A rare one hundred year old cap, awarded to a Wellingborough-born Northampton Town star who made history by becoming the shortest player ever to play for England, is set to fetch around £300 at an auction.
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 says: “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,A ll 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 one hundred 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.
The imminent sale of his FA trial cap, at Graham Budd Auctions in London on Thursday May 22, coincides with the sixty fifth anniversary this month of his death, in Northampton at the age of sixty one, on May 3, 1949.