Put your cap on the table

Southampton 1910Around 20 years ago, I won a cap for England. I bought an England amateur international cap in an auction. Nobby Stiles, who knew a thing or two about England caps, having won a few himself, handed me the prize after leading the bidding. I paid £ 100 for the faded pink velvet cap and doubtless, it is worth more today.

But I won’t sell the cap as it is a slice of football history. It was awarded to Frank Vivian Monk, a centre half who was playing for Southampton at the time.

Monk won six international caps, but this particular cap was for a game in the Netherlands on April 17, 1911. England beat the home side 1-0 in Amsterdam’s Het Houten Stadion. This ground, incidentally, was the home of Ajax between 1907 and 1934.

Monk lined up with a couple of England amateur luminaries – Vivien Woodward and Ronald Brebner. His record in an England shirt was impressive – he never finished on the losing side. His debut was on February 18, 1911 in Wales, where England won 5-1. He then played against Belgium (W4-0), Germany (in Berlin 2-2), Denmark (in 1911-12 3-0) and Ireland (1911-12 2-0).

photo (300x225)Away from international football, Monk started his career with his home town club, Salisbury before joining Southern League Southampton in 1910. As a teacher, he wasn’t always available, so he played just 19 games in 1910-11 season. But he impressed somebody because he won a trial with England amateurs.

He later played for Glossop and had two spells with Fulham before rejoining the Saints. But his career was soon over, with his teaching commitments getting in the way.

If you’ve ever read anything about the old amateurs of the past, a la C.B. Fry and some of his contemporaries, you will be aware that these chaps were often good all-rounders. Mr Monk was no exception, excelling at swimming, cricket and athletics. He won the Salisbury Marathon in 1909.

In his own way, then, Frank Monk was a remarkable sportsman. How could I ever let the cap go?

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