It was a Victorian football sensation. Five British players – four from Manchester City plus a former teammate now at Sheffield United – were missing, presumed poached by a mysterious foreign agent. “A sudden disappearance!” exclaimed one newspaper. “A Sheffielder taken!” was the headline in another.
This 1894 mystery was solved after the players were spotted boarding the White Star steam liner Teutonic, bound from Liverpool to New York. They had walked out on their English clubs to join the brand new American League of Professional Football (ALPF) – the first professional football league outside of Britain.
The players were promised riches and fame in a venture that, a hundred years before USA ‘94 and Major League Soccer, was set to popularise football in America. It ended up being, in the straightforward assessment of one of the players involved, “a huge mistake, a fiasco, and a total failure”.
Read the true story of the British footballers in the ALPF in issue 22 of The Blizzard football quarterly.