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18 March 2024

Alf Underwood

Stoke FC

2 appearances, 0 goals

P 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 F 8: A 1
100% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


  Alfred Underwood
Birth Wednesday, 14 April 1869 at Boundary Street in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
  registered in Newcastle-under-Lyme April-June 1869

According to the 1871 census, one year old Alfred is the youngest of six children to William and Louisa (née Fowler). They live at 21 John Street in Hanley.


According to the 1881 census, Alfred, a potter's flowerer, is the youngest of four children, a list that does not include Leonard, they live at 23 Duke Street in the Fenton area of Stoke. His father is a potter's presser.


(His mother died in 1889)
According to the 1891 census, Alfred, still a potter's flowerer is living with his widowed father, who is still a potter's presser. They both live with Adelaide, Alfred's older sister, who is now married to Thomas Copeland, and have three sons. They all live at 67 Well Street in Hanley.
(His father died shortly after the census was taken)


According to the 1901 census, Alfred is a boarder at the home of widower, Sarah Hill and her son. Cyrus. He remains a potter's presser and lives at 3 Lonsdale Road in Stoke.

"Alfred Underwood, the one time famous Stoke back, and one of the best known and most highly respected players who has ever donned the Stoke colours, is unfortunately stricken down with a very serious illness. Underwood's disposition is of such a serious nature as to utterly incapacitate him from earning his own livelihood. The circumstance is doubly unfortunate since we hear that the poor sufferer is practically destitute. It is with much pleasure, therefore, we learn that a strong movement is being set on foot to raise a substantial sum in the interests of Underwood, and by means of which he shall be relieved of his present anxiety regarding the future. Very readily we fall in with a strong desire that our columns should be thrown open to receive subscriptions which may be sent in on his behalf. We understand that the parent Association and the Football League are taking the matter up in the interest of an old player who in his day was persona grata with the officials of those bodies because of his straightforward play and entire absence of bad temper in the open. It is almost certain, too, that the Stoke Football Club, notwithstanding its own difficulties, will see its way to make a generous subscription to the fund. Alf. Underwood is a native of the district. With such a worthy object, it is sincerely to be hoped that the football-loving public of North Staffordshire will make a notable response to the appeal which is being formulated. There are surely thousands who knew and appreciated Underwood's play who will gladly subscribe a shilling or more to such an entirely deserving object. On Friday, June 26th, I was informed that the circumstances of Underwood's case had become much worse, and that he was in a state of absolute destitution." - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Monday, 6 July 1908.
"Writing of Doig, Watson, and M'Combie, I am reminded of another famous set of defenders, namely William Rowley, Tom Clare, and Alfred Underwood. They too have been scattered. Rowley emigrated to America, and it is said that fortune has been kind to him in the new world. Both the backs have fallen on evil times, and I much regret to hear that Underwood is not only in needy circumstances but now in hospital with an injured knee, which it will be very difficult to restore to soundness. This is very unwelcome news. Some of his best friends are subscribing, and they hope to obtain such a sum as will afford a measure of comfort to one of the best full-backs the old Stoke club ever had." - The Athletic News, Monday, 13 July 1908.
"It was reported that the Players' Union had now a membership of about 1,000, embracing 60 clubs, and another 500 are expected to join within the next two months. It was decided to hang portions of the rules of the Union in club dressing-rooms, and to send to each member a linen badge, to be worn on the shirt during matches. A grant of two guineas was send to the fund for the benefit of Alfred Underwood, the old Stoke player." -
Lancashire Evening Post, Friday, 28 August 1908.
"The Benevolent fund in connection with the Association Players' Union was only started at the close of last season, but already its usefulness had been demonstrated with...a contribution of £2 2s. to the fund promoted for the benefit of Alfred Underwood, the old Stoke player." -
The Staffordshire Sentinel, Monday, 21 September 1908.
"ALF UNDERWOOD'S BENEFIT―Next Thursday's Attraction at Stoke.
"It is a long time since the public of the Potteries have been provided with such a splendid opportunity of witnessing something unusually attractive in the way of football, as will be the case on Thursday next, when a very interesting event is going to take place on the Victoria Grounds, at Stoke. Therefore, when it was announced that Karno's famous football party were coming to the Hanley Grand Theatre of Varieties, Mr. Wheldon was approached on the subject of a match being arranged with his troupe for this laudable object. Through the kindness of the Staffordshire Football Association Council the necessary preliminary matters were soon settled, and the Stoke Football Club very generously promised the free use of their ground and accessories needful for the playing of the match. The Mayor of Hanley (Councillor G. F. Adcock) and the Mayor of Stoke (Councillor W. B. Hackney) have consented to kick-off for the first half and second half respectively, and the teams will be as follows:
"Stoke Veterans.―F. Sheldon, goal; T. Clare (capt.) and A. Rowley. backs; D. Christie, G. Shutt, and D. Brodie. half-backs; F. Johnson, W. A. Dickson or J. Farrell, Adrian Capes, A. Edge, and J. Schofield, forwards. Reserves: J. Turner, W. Heames, Arthur Capes, L. Balham, J. Broadhurst, J. Owen, H. R. Brown, and A. Parsons.
"Karno's XI.―Kifford (late of West Bromwich Albion), goal; Poluski and J. Fitchett (late of Bolton Wanderers), backs; McOustra (late of Manchester City), W. Wragg (late of Notts Forest), and T. Buxton, half-backs; Wheldon (capt.), Roberts, Winpenny (Dulwich Hamlet), R. Sharp (Bristol City) and Turner.
"The kick-off will be at 2.45, and the charges of admission will be :―Ground, 4d.; Lutler-street stand, 6d.; paddock and reserved stand, 1s.
- The Staffordshire Sentinel, Saturday, 28 November 1908.
"ALF UNDERWOOD'S BENEFIT MATCH.―Stoke Veterans 1 Karno's Eleven 0.
"There was a very good crowd present when the teams turned out. The tossing for choice of ends was an interesting proceeding. Tom Clare and 'Stiffy,' the respective captains, shook hands in the middle, and the coin was tossed, but 'Stiffy,' opening out the top of his pants, caught the halfpenny, and it had to be tossed again. Immediately from the commencement Croxton banged the ball into the net and the Veterans were one up. There were about 3,000 people present at the match." - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Thursday, 3 December 1908.
"It has been decided to close the public fund which was opened by the proprietors of the 'Sentinel' for the benefit of Alfred Underwood, the old Stoke and International footballer. Additional subscriptions which have been received have brought the total amount to £100 5s. 7d., and so no expenses have been charged. the gross sum becomes available for distribution. The committee appointed to deal with the fund met at the 'Sentinel' office this morning, and approved of certain payments which have already been made to Underwood. They further decided upon the payment of a fixed weekly sum to the beneficiaries, and appointed Dr. A. Rowley Moody and Mr. W. A. Cowlishaw as a sub-committee, with Mr. George Walker (manger of the 'Sentinel'), as administrator of the fund, to carry their wishes into effect." - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Wednesday, 2 December 1908.
"This sum will be augmented by the proceeds of a match at the Victoria Ground, Stoke, to-day, between famous veterans of the Stoke club and a team raised from Karno's company, who are appearing at a Hanley music hall this week." -
The Yorkshire Post, Thursday, 3 December 1908.  [2019 equivalent: £12,120]

According to the 1911 census, Alfred, now a commission agent in the pottery trade is living with his brother, Leonard and his large family, at 99 Ashford Street in Hanley.


According to the 1921 census, Alfred, still a commission agent, as an inmate at the Guardian's Institution at 19 London Road in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Regarding an inspection of the Stoke Guardians' Institution. "The nucleus of the present very extensive groups of buildings was the comparatively small structure, almost in the centre of the site, now used as male infirm wards, bearing the inscription, 'Stoke Parish Hospital. A.D. 1842.' Here, by the way, on Thursday, the visitors encountered, in an invalid chair, Alfred Underwood, at one time back in the Stoke football team, and a member of the famous defence, Rowley, Clare and Underwood." - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Friday, 28 October 1921.
Death Monday 3.55am, 8 October 1928 at the Stoke-on-Trent Poor Law Institution, on London Road in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.
aged 59 years 177 days registered in Stoke-upon-Trent October-December 1928


"DEATH OF FAMOUS FOOTBALLER―Alf. Underwood, of Stoke and England.―One of Great Defensive Trio.
"The death occurred at the London-road Institution, Stoke, this morning, at the age of 61, of Alf Underwood, the former English International and Stoke football player. Underwood was a left-back, along with Rowley (goal) and Clare (right-back) formed one of the finest defences any club has ever possessed. The three played together for England against Ireland in the season 1891-92. A native of Hanley, Underwood played as a boy for Hanley Tabernacle and later for Etruria F.C. He then joined the Stoke reserve team, later gaining his place in the first eleven. He was a potter by trade, and was a member of the club in its early days, when professionals received a very low rate of pay. Both he and Clare had renumeration at a rate as low as 2s.6d. per match. He was a member of the Stoke side when the cub first took part in the Football League and he was a regular player in the team when the late Mr. Harry Lockett, who was the first Secretary of the League, was also Secretary of the Stoke club. When Underwood's football days came to an end, Jack Eccles succeeded him as the Club's left-back, and partnered Clare."
- The Staffordshire Sentinel, Monday, 8 October 1928.
"INQUEST ON OLD STOKE FOOTBALLER―City Coroner's Tribute to Alfred Underwood
"The death of the old Stoke footballer, Alfred Underwood, which occurred at the London-road Institution on Monday morning, at the age of 59, was the subject of an inquest conducted by the City Coroner (Mr W. M. Huntbach) at the Institution this (Wednesday) morning. Evidence was given by a nephew, William Leonard Underwood, of 99, Ashford-street, Shelton, to the effect that deceased had followed no regular occupation for the past 25 years, and had been an inmate of the infirm ward of the Institution for the past 14 years. Dr, Anderson said that for some time past Underwood had been very feeble and had a wheeled chair, which he propelled himself, to enable him to get about. About 5 45 a.m. on September 29th he was found by his attendant, Edward Haydon, lying at the bottom of some stone steps leading to the basement of the male infirm ward, with his chair smashed to pieces. He received a severe cut on the scalp and was removed to the hospital. Death took place on Monday at 3 55a.m. His health had broken down, undoubtedly due to the shock of the fall, which was the cause of death. In returning a verdict of 'Accidental Death,' the Coroner said there was an element of sadness in this case. 'Here was a man,' he said, 'who a quarter of a century ago was one of the best known men in the district, a distinguished football player who had represented his country in international matches. He was a member of one of the finest defences that football has ever known. As a player he was an honourable straight fellow. I have seen him play many a time, and although he played a whole-hearted game, I never saw him do a dirty trick. He was one of those men whose efforts had ministered to the enjoyment and happiness of thousands of people on many occasions, and those efforts had been conducted in such a way as to make everybody who knew him respect him and feel kindly towards him.'" - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Wednesday, 10 October 1928.
"The relatives of the late Alfred Underwood desire to thank all friends for their expressions of sympathy and floral tributes in their in their recent sad bereavement.―Ashford-street, Shelton." - The Staffordshire Sentinel, Friday, 12 October 1928.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] &

Playing Career

Began his junior career with Hanley Tabernacle FC before joining Etruria FC. Joined Stoke FC. 'He first came to notoriety in the season of 1887-8. Already William Rowley and Tom Clare had made a name for themselves, and when Underwood joined them he completed a defence which has never been surpassed by any combination of any club in the kingdom. Underwood played brilliantly in first-class football for a period; and no member of any club has done more to popularise the game, to develop it from its scientific side, or to set a higher example of what a player should be.' Underwood retired because of a knee injury sustained after a league match against Nottingham Forest FC on 11 September 1893, but played once more in February 1895.
League History
94 appearances
Stoke FC 1888-95 94 appearances.
debut: 8 September 1888 Stoke FC 0 West Bromwich Albion FC 2.
last: 4 February 1895 Stoke FC 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 0.
Club honours Football Alliance winners 1890-91;
Football League Division One seventh place 1892-93 (26ᵃ);
Individual honours None
Height/Weight 6' 0", 13st. 0lbs [1890's].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990].

England Career

Player number One of five who became the 174th players (175) to appear for England.
Position(s) Left-back
First match No. 41, 7 March 1891, England 6 Ireland 1, a British Championship match at Molineux Ground, Waterloo Road North, St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, aged 21 years 327 days.
Last match No. 44, 5 March 1892, Ireland 0 England 2, a British Championship match at Cliftonville Gardens, Cliftonville, Belfast, aged 22 years 326 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1890-91, 1891-92;
Team honours British Championship winners 1890-91;
Individual honours The North (one appearance, January 1891)
The Stripes (two appearances, March 1891-February 1892)
Distinctions None

Beyond England

A potter by trade, he was apparently an invalid from the 1900's. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.252.

The Numbers
parties Appearances comp. apps minutes captain
3 2 2 180 0 none
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 0 1 4 1 100 +2
Both of his matches were played in the British Championship competition

Venue Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 1 1 0 0 6 1 +5 0 0 6.00 1.00 100.0 +1
Away 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 0 1 2.00 0.00 100.0 +1

Tournament Record

British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1890-91 1 1 0 0 6 1 +5 0 0 6.00 1.00 100.0 +1
BC 1891-92 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 0 1 2.00 0.00 100.0 +1
BC All 2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 0 1 4.00 1.00 100.0 +2

All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 0 1 4.00 1.00 100.0 +2
2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 0 1 4 1 100 +2

Match History

 Club: Stoke F.C. -  two full appearances (180 min) F.A. International Select Committee - two full appearances (180 min)x

Age 21 trial  
one appearance - The North vs. The South, 12 January 1891;

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

1 41 7 March 1891 - England 6 Ireland 1
Molineux Ground, Wolverhampton
BC HW   lb

one of five who became the 174th player (175) to appear for England
the sixth player from Stoke FC to represent England

one appearance - The Whites vs. The Stripes, 24 March 1891;

43 4 April 1891 - England 2 Scotland 1, Ewood Park, Blackburn BC HW reserve

Age 22 trial  
one appearance - The Whites vs. The Stripes, 29 February 1892;

2 44 5 March 1892 - Ireland 0 England 2
Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast
BC AW fouled Torrans for penalty against lb