Full information can be found in Malcolm Bailey’s book,
From Cloisters to Cup Finals, a history of Charterhouse football,
which is available from the School Shop or visit
Malcolm Bailey's website, Carthusian Football.
The game of football played at the Old Charterhouse was a typical "mob" game involving as many players as were available. This was the outdoor game known as runabout where dribbling the ball was very much the thing to do. The indoor game was played in Cloisters shown on the right of this drawing where the two teams of boys, in a mass scrum, pushed the ball towards doors at either end of a long stone floored and walled corridor. This was a precarious affair which would cause much damage to the participants. When the school moved to Godalming the Cloister game gradually died out and runabout thrived on the flat open grassy spaces of the new Charterhouse. Charterhouse football is regarded as a major influence in the development of the global game. Indeed Charles Wreford Brown an OC, Oxford Blue and international player is reputed to have used the word "soccer" first.
The first records of 1st XI football at Charterhouse date back to 1862 and the team pictured here was one that would have played both Cloister football and a form of eleven-a-side outdoor football. Many matches were internal; the Choir v The 22 and their first "foreign" opponents were local teams for example from St Bartholomew’s Hospital neighbouring the old school in Charterhouse Square. The captain, BF Hartshorne, holding the ball, attended the original meeting of the Football Association in 1863 when it was decided by a group of interested teams to limit handling and hacking and to develop the art of football. Those who did not like the idea refused to join up and eventually codified rugby. By the time the school moved to Godalming in 1872 football was flourishing and opponents were delighted to visit the school where the art of dribbling on the fast sandy pitches was perfected.
The Old Carthusian Football team won the English FA Challenge Cup in 1881 beating the Old Etonians 3-0 at the Kennington Oval. This was the last time two amateur teams contested the final. In the OC team was James Prinsep who played for England once and was the youngest player to play in the FA Cup Final until Millwall's Curtis Weston at 17 years 119 days took his record in 2004. Prinsep was also the youngest international footballer to play for England until Wayne Rooney's debut in 2003. The OCFC has the distinction of winning both the FA Cup and the FA Amateur Cup a record held only by Wimbledon FC.
During the 1880s and 90s as professional football grew, particularly in the north of England, the amateur teams gradually were left behind. The Old Carthusians continued to compete very successfully in cup ties for a decade playing teams such as Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur in various matches through the decade. Eventually the amateurs could no longer fairly match the quality of these football league clubs in the FA Cup and so the FA Amateur Cup was founded in 1893. The OCs won this national trophy in its first year of competition, they were runners up in 1895 and won it again in 1897. The team pictured below was preparing to play Preston NE in the FA Cup in 1895. There were four England internationals in this team, GO Smith, the Walters brothers, AM and PM and C Wreford Brown.
Towards the end of the 19th century the Old Carthusian influence on national cups waned as the amateur clubs, which were "open", began to dominate the FA Amateur Cup. Arthur Dunn, an Old Etonian, founded with help from many old boy clubs the Arthur Dunn Cup. The OCFC were in the first final played at the old Crystal Palace ground in 1903 and they shared the trophy after a replay with the Old Salopians (Shrewsbury School). Only ten minutes of extra time was allowed in the first game because both teams were due at the Cafe Royal for a celebration dinner that evening and like all good gentlemen they were determined not to be late for the appointment. Since then the OCs have won the trophy 21 times.
During the 1st World War nearly a thousand Carthusians lost their lives. Some OCs were members of the Corinthian FC travelling to South America for a tour in 1914 when they heard of the outbreak of war. On arrival at Pernambuco, North eastern Brazil, they jumped on the first boat back to Europe and enlisted to fight. They perished in the trenches often with records of immense bravery. Thomas S Rowlandson, born in Darlington in 1880, played in goal for the school’s 1st XI, Cambridge University, Sunderland FC and the England amateur XI . He died on the Somme in October 1916. "He died where of all places he would have chosen to be, on the parapet of a German trench ahead of his men."
Pictured below are three OCs, Alfred G Bower (far left), Basil CA Patchitt, on the far right and John SF Morrison, with big V on his sweater, played with distinction for the Corinthian FC and England during the 1920s.
Bower (international 1924-7) and Patchitt (1923) both captained the full England XI as amateurs and Morrison played one match for the amateur side in 1920.
Following the second World War, the professionals had a firm grip on the national game but the amateurs still were able to capture people’s imagination and John Tanner (pictured below) played for Huddersfield Town and Pegasus FC, the legendary Oxbridge team that took the Amateur Cup by storm in the early 1950s. He is our last international cap and he went on to be a prominent member of the FA Council. David Miller, the famous sports journalist, just missed the cut for the 1956 British Olympic team having been a light blue and member of Pegasus also in the mid 1950s.
Further information can be found in Malcolm Bailey’s book, From Cloisters to Cup Finals, a history of Charterhouse football (publ. JGJ Publishing 2009), which is available from the School Shop.