More than sixty years after the death of Steve Bloomer in 1938, the anthem of Derby County Football Club is Steve Bloomer's Watching. His memory is still honoured by both his club and by his birthplace of Cradley, where he was born in 1874.
Cradley Links is proud to pay homage to one of Cradley's most famous sons, the legendary footballer Steve Bloomer.
Cradley historian Peter Barnsley has very generously granted Cradley Links permission to reproduce three of his essays on Steve Bloomer, all of which which first appeared in the The Blackcountryman.
To accompany Peter's essays, Cradley Links has independently compiled a brief family tree for Steve Bloomer, for which Peter Barnsley is of course in no way responsible.
A variety of sources were used to assemble the tree, foremost of which were the 1851 and 1861 census returns, the Cradley parish registers, and the book "Steve Bloomer, The Story of Football's First Superstar" by Peter Seddon, 1999.
(The chart to the right shows only Steve Bloomer's direct Harper and Bloomer lineage. )
While much of this information is readily available, we recommend anyone wishing to use it to verify the details for themselves before placing reliance on it. Cradley Links has more information on what we believe to be the ancestry of Steve Bloomer but extra research is needed before we would publish it. Please contact us if you are interested in pursuing this.
There are scores of web sites with material about Steve Bloomer the footballer. They include numerous Derby County club sites, both official and unofficial, a large number of "football statistics" sites, and several reviews of the Peter Seddon book.
Cradley Links wishes to express our grateful thanks to Mark "The Tank" Tewson1, author of Steve Bloomer's Watching, who has kindly permitted us to reproduce the rousing anthem which he wrote for Derby FC.
Here are the lyrics of the chorus:
Steve Bloomer's watching,
Helping them fight,
Guiding our heroes,
In the black and the white.
For all teams who come here,
There's nowhere to hide,
Everyone is frightened,
Of that Derby pride.
From The Blackcountryman, Summer 1989, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 25-
One of the incidental pleasures of the days when I used to go to football matches at Villa Park or The Hawthorns, was listening to the conversations of older supporters as they reminisced about the players they had seen in their younger days. In railway carriage and public bar, on coach and terrace, players like Frank Barson and 'Pongo' Waring, W. G. Richardson and 'Sandy' McNab were so vividly discussed that it was almost possible to believe that they were still playing, and that their absence from that day's team was caused by illness or injury, and not the passage of time. Supporters in those days were properly appreciative of the game's historical figures.
I cannot remember ever hearing the name of Steve Bloomer mentioned. Perhaps he was a generation too far back. But he was still talked of by older people in his Black Country birthplace, even though he had left there before they were born.
Steve Bloomer was born in Bridge Street, Cradley (not Cradley Heath as many books state) on the 20th of January, 1874. His father, Caleb, was a puddler. His mother, Merab (whose maiden name was Dunn), registered the birth at Stourbridge Registry Office on the 10 February.
It was about five years later that Caleb and Merab Bloomer took the decision that must subsequently have caused Black Country football supporters of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras to raise their eyes heavenwards in exasperation: they decided to leave Cradley for Derby. Whether they thereby improved the family's prospects, I do not know -
Steve Bloomer had left St. James's School, and was working in a Derby iron foundry when his latent football talent began to emerge with Derby Swifts, for whom he once scored fourteen goals in one match in the Derbyshire Minor League. His goal-
Bloomer made his first-
Within three years of his first appearance for Derby, Bloomer made his first appearance for England, scoring two goals in a 9 -
International matches were much less frequent then than now, and the opposition was invariably provided by one of the home countries -
Except for four years with Middlesborough between 1906 and 1910, Bloomer spent his playing career with Derby County, for whom he scored 291 goals. In all, he scored 352 goals in 598 league games (which included 125 games for Middlesborough). He returned to Derby (who were by now in the Second Division) for the 1910-
Bloomer was by now thirty-
Statistics tell only part of the story. What were the skills that distinguished Bloomer among his contemporaries? What were his outstanding characteristics as a player?
Sir Frederick Wall, a former Secretary of tile Football Association, had no doubt about the main reason for Bloomer's success: "Constant shooting. He tried to take every chance, every half-
Confirmation of Bloomer's shooting ability is supplied by journalist H. D. Davies ("Bloomer's golden rule when shooting ... never let the ball rise above knee high") and by the former West Bromwich Albion and England left back, Jesse Pennington. The latter's career overlapped with Bloomer's -
"Bloomer took a pass from Colin Veitch, and shot left-
Pennington, both astonished and elated by the goal, asked Bloomer what possessed him to try a shot from that distance. "Well, you know my lad," replied Bloomer, "you have a go".
When one bears in mind the heavy leather footballs of that time, such a goal seems unlikely without some mistake on the goalkeeper's part. But McBride himself would admit to none. Fourteen years later, when Pennington found himself playing against McBride in a league game, he asked him what was the best goal scored against him. "Without hesitation, he said it was Bloomer's goal in that 1907 International."
According to Pennington, Bloomer could shoot equally well with either foot, but "he never had a swing at the ball -
Sir Frederick Wall wrote that Bloomer had what is known as 'big-
There is probably truth in both comments. Bloomer had a long and arduous career. The potential danger of his shooting meant that he was closely -
Bloomer could apparently be critical of team mates whose performance did not come up to his expectations. In the words of Ivan Sharpe, a Derby County colleague who became a well-
Bloomer may be forgiven these histrionics. Genius must occasionally be allowed to show its disappointment with the failings of mere mortals.
Bloomer was of medium height, slim but well-
Steve Bloomer returnsAfter the end of the 1913-
By the time of his wife's death in 1934, Bloomer's own health had begun to deteriorate. His ill-
At some time after his wife died, Bloomer went to live with one of his daughters and her husband -
Happy though he may have been at the Junction, Bloomer's condition did not improve. The proceeds of a Testimonial Fund were used to send him on a cruise to Australia and New Zealand but this failed to reverse the decline in his health. Steve Bloomer died on the 16 April 1938. He was buried in the family grave in Nottingham Road cemetery.
There must still be some men living who, as schoolboys, saw Steve Bloomer play football. Their memories perhaps retain some fleeting, fading images. Bloomer's skills are not available on film or tape for modern fans to see, but in Derby his career is still frequently discussed by those who never saw him play. They have heard about him from an older generation, or they have read some of the thousands of words that have been written about a career that was remarkable for its length, its achievements and its displays of outstanding skill.
I have quoted extensively from 'Fifty Years of Football' by Sir Frederick Wall (Cassell: 1935) and briefly front 'Judgement and the Art of Goalkeeping' by H. D. Davies (a 'Manchester Guardian' article reprinted in 'The Bedside Guardian -
Jesse Pennington's reminiscences are taken from the record of a conversation I had with him towards the end of his life.
I must also thank Roger Collinge, Head of Geography at Halesowen College, and compiler of 'Today' newspaper's weekly sports crossword for checking the statistics of Bloomer's career, and Mike Carpenter for the loan of photographs.
Finally, I should like to thank everyone who has written to me about Steve Bloomer -
From The Blackcountryman, Spring, 1997, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 29-
The Steve Bloomer Memorial
On Monday, 28th October last year, five footballers from a more recent (but still bygone) era -
Steve Bloomer's grandson, Steve Richards was the co-
A fuller account of Steve Bloomer's career can be found in the Summer 1989 edition of 'The Blackcountryman'. Since that article appeared, it has been confirmed that the Bloomer family had moved from Cradley to Derby by the time that Steve Bloomer was seven years and three months old.
The census of April 1881 shows that the Bloomers were then living in Yates Street, Litchurch, Derby. This should end the persistent myth that before Steve Bloomer moved to Derbv, he played for Cradley St. Peter's and/or Cradley Heath St. Luke's.
The census also records that Steve's two-
From The Blackcountryman, Summer, 1997, Vol. 30, No. 3, p.22
STEVE BLOOMER'S CLAIM TO FAME
In my article about the Cradley-
I have discounted such players as George Hilsdon (West Ham and Chelsea) who scored 14 goals in 8 games (including 4 in a 7-
Vivian 'Jack' Woodward (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) played at centre-
It should also be pointed out that Woodward scored 6 of his goals during one game against Hungary in Budapest and two games against Austria in Vienna -
In any case, Bloomer has what some may consider an even greater claim to fame; he is, beyond doubt, the only Cradley-
There is, I think, cause for satisfaction in the fact that the name of Bloomer familiar in Cradley for generations should appear in a story by the man who is probably the most widely-
Additional notes by Cradley Links
In ancient times, all iron was wrought iron, produced by heating iron ore in a furnace, so that the oxygen and various impurities were forced out of the raw iron.
By and large the history of iron making is the history of 'slagging', that is, the removal of the impurities in the ore. A high enough temperature has to be reached in the furnace to liquify and then remove as much of the slag as possible.
The resulting 'iron sponge' or 'bloom' was then worked by heating in a forge and hammered and folded to force out the remaining slag and shape the (more or less) pure iron, e.g. by chain making.
So, a bloomer was an iron maker. Dud Dudley's experiments at Pensnett and Cradley Forge with forging iron by burning coal rather charcoal were important not only because the wood (and hence charcoal) was running out but also because of the much higher temperatures achieved, making better quality iron more cheapily and more easily.
More modern iron making was about not only removing impurities but increasing the carbon content, whereby the iron becomes stronger and harder (but more brittle, otherwise the qualities of steel). It was commensurately less able to be wrought (bent and shaped), in a traditional furnace at least. At some point along the continuum it is known as cast iron or 'pig-
1 A string of coincidences led Cradley Links to Mark "The Tank" Tewson, which are surely worth recording.
The first draft of this page was written by Nigel Brown in Wolverhampton, who sent it via email to Mike Hamilton in Melbourne, Australia for editing and assembly into HTML format for this web site.
Nigel's original text gave a link to audio of Steve Bloomer's Watching at Jeff Willits' site, Derby County FC -
While preparing Nigel's article, Mike (who knows little about English football) visited that site in the hope of obtaining permission to use a few seconds of audio on this web site.
Listening to the audio, Mike was startled to hear what he had hitherto known as an Australian football song, “Up There Cazaly” with different words and -
Now, Nigel couldn't have known of the Australian connection; you had to be not only Down Under but also in one of the states which follow Australian Rules Football for that particular penny to drop.
Anyway, Mike sent his request to Jeff Willits, never guessing that Jeff would happen to be a friend of Mark Tewson and would forward the request to the Man Himself.
“... lived in Australia for 4-
And to cap it off, Mark's email arrived in Melbourne on the biggest day in the 2001 calendar of the Australian Football League; Saturday, 29 September, at half time in the Grand Final between the Brisbane Lions and Essendon.
Perhaps Steve Bloomer was, indeed, watching !