Victorian Football

dog 1888"An unpleasant incident occurred" during a match between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, according to this newspaper report from 1888. "A tiny white terrier suddenly appeared on the field, and joined in the chase for the ball. He was evidently an enthusiastic devotee of the game. He was very keen on the ball, and had a fine turn of speed on the heavy ground."

"Wherever the ball went the little terrier followed helter skelter, following every pass, and rushing between the legs of the players to roll over the ball, eagerly biting its smooth sides, while the thousands of spectators roared with merriment and delight."

Various attempts were made to remove it from the field. "[Villa's Tommy] Green captured the dog, and threw it gently on to the heads of the spectators... [but] it was not to be deprived of its sport that way, for it was soon on the field again."

Another player, John Burton of Villa, caught the dog, and ran with it towards the dressing room, only to be confronted by an opponent with the ball at his feet. "Burton bravely tried to tackle the Albion player with the dog still in his arms, but was at last obliged to drop [it]."

But soon the dog's football career was over. "One of the Albion backs, meeting it on the way to the ball, gave it a brutal kick, and the poor little doggie turned up its legs and lay stiff and still on the damp turf."

"Everybody thought it was killed, and the roars of laughter with which the antics of the little fellow had been watched changed to something like a groan of horror, and then into a storm of hisses. Two men ran into the field and carried the dog off, and laid him outside of play."

But there seems to have been a happy ending, with the dog making a recovery: "There was a cheer all round the ground when at last he wagged his tail."

Find more tales from Victorian football in The Victorian Football Miscellany.

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