A rare 100-year-old cap, awarded to a Northampton Town star who made history by becoming the shortest player ever to play for England, sold for £650 at an auction, roughly double the amount it was expected to fetch.
The 1913-1914 purple and white quartered Football Association international trial cap was awarded to Frederick “Fanny” Walden, who, after leaving the Cobblers, went on to become England’s smallest football star.
For in his football socks, he was only five feet two-and-a-half inches tall.
In the early 1900s some potential England players were required to take part in trial matches to decide whether they were good enough to play in internationals. Outside right Walden impressed sufficiently in his trial to play for England in 1914 and again in 1922.
In his book, An English Football Internationalists’ Who’s Who, Douglas Lamming said: “This most diminutive of footballers enjoyed a popularity in inverse proportion to his size.
“Crowds revelled in his capacity to wriggle past bigger opponents outwitted by uncanny control and left floundering by smart acceleration.”
Frederick Ingram Walden was born at Wellingborough on March 1, 1888, and after playing for Wellingborough junior clubs, White Cross, All Saints and Redwell – he joined Northampton Town in 1909.
Four years later, in April 1913, the Cobblers sold him to Tottenham Hotspur for £1,750. That might not sound a lot of money now, but 100 years ago that sum would have been enough to buy at least three decent houses in Northampton, Walden, nicknamed Fanny because of his size (it was slang at the time for someone of short stature), also played county cricket for Northamptonshire between 1910 and 1929. He later became a first class umpire and stood in several test matches.
Before the sale, at Graham Budd Auctions in London on Thursday May 22, Fanny Walden’s trial cap had been expected to fetch between £250 and £350. But,in the end, it went for £650. Its sale coincides with the 65th anniversary this month of his death, in Northampton at the age of 61, on May 3, 1949.