Steve Bloomer

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Steve Bloomer
Steve Bloomer 1892.jpg
Personal information
Full name Stephen Bloomer
Date of birth (1874-01-20)20 January 1874
Place of birth Cradley, Worcestershire, England
Date of death 16 April 1938(1938-04-16) (aged 64)
Place of death Derby, England
Playing position Forward
Youth career
188x–1888 St. James' School
1888–1891 Derby Swifts
1892 Tutbury Hawthorn
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1892–1906 Derby County 375 (238)
1906–1910 Middlesbrough 125 (61)
1910–1914 Derby County 98 (53)
Total 598 (352)
National team
1895–1907 England 23 (28)
Teams managed
1914 Britannia Berlin 92
1923–1925 Real Unión
1925–xx Derby Reserves
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Steve Bloomer (20 January 1874, Cradley, Worcestershire – 16 April 1938, Derby) was an English footballer and manager who played for Derby County, Middlesbrough and England during the 1890s and 1900s. Bloomer remains a legend at Derby County and the club anthem, Steve Bloomer's Watchin', is played before every home game. On 17 January 2009 a bust of Bloomer was unveiled next to the home dugout at Pride Park Stadium.[1]

During his career Bloomer was a prolific goalscorer for both club and country. Although possessing only a slight frame, he was a menace to defenders due to his quick thinking. He was also able to shoot powerfully and accurately with either foot and his speciality was the daisy cutter – a low shot, hit with great power, speed and accuracy. In 536 English First Division games he scored 317 goals and, after Jimmy Greaves, he is the second highest all-time goalscorer in the first division. He also scored 28 goals in 23 appearances for England. In his last international against Scotland in 1907 he scored a stunning goal.

Bloomer also played baseball for Derby County Baseball Club and helped them become British champions three times in the 1890s.[2] He also played cricket at an amateur level. After retiring as a footballer he became a coach and worked with clubs in Germany, The Netherlands and Spain. During the First World War he was interned at Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp. The highlight of his coaching career came in 1924 when he guided Real Unión to victory in the Copa del Rey. After returning to England he served as player-coach with Derby Reserves, worked as a newspaper columnist and as a grounds man at the Baseball Ground. In late 1937, while severely ill, Derby County paid for him to go on a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. He died three weeks after returning home in April 1938. His funeral took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 20 April 1938 at Derby Cathedral.[3] His grave can been seen in Nottingham Road Cemetery, Derby.

Family life[edit]

Although Bloomer was born in Worcestershire his parents, Caleb Bloomer and Merab Dunn, moved to Normanton, Derbyshire and then Pear Tree. Bloomer's brother, Philip also briefly played for Derby County. However he only played one first team game and died of peritonitis in May 1896. The same year saw Steve Bloomer marry Sarah Walker. They subsequently had 4 daughters; two of whom died before they reached the age of 18; one died in 1917 while he was still in Ruhleben. Another, Hetty, married Alf Quantrill,[4] who played for Derby County and England as an outside-left. Bloomer lived with another of his daughters, Doris Richards, toward the end of his life, after the death of his wife in 1936. Mrs Richards' son, Steve Richards, is a journalist. Bloomer's nephew, Ted Measures, signed for Arsenal F.C. in 1932.

Playing career[edit]

Derby County[edit]

Bloomer spent the majority of his playing career at Derby County, where together with John Goodall and Archie Goodall, he formed the backbone of a County side that regularly challenged for top honours during the 1890s and early 1900s. Bloomer scored four times on his County debut, against Darley Dale. He made his English First Division debut on 3 September 1892 in a 3–1 away win against Stoke City and scored his first league goal for County on 24 September 1892 in a home game against West Bromwich Albion.

While at Derby he was top scorer in the First Division on five occasions in 1896, 1897, 1899, 1901 and 1904. In 1896, together with John Campbell of Aston Villa, he was also the top goalscorer in any European league. He was also the leading Rams scorer for 14 consecutive seasons and scored 17 hat-tricks in the league. One of his best seasons came in 1896–97 when he scored 31 goals, including five hat-tricks, in 33 League and FA Cup games. Between 14 November 1896 and 5 April 1897 he scored 21 goals in 20 games. He also scored six goals for the club in a game against Sheffield Wednesday in January 1899.

Bloomer’s goals helped Derby finish runners-up in the First Division in 1896 and helped them reach three FA Cup finals in 1898, 1899 and 1903. He scored in the 1898 final, a 3–1 defeat to Nottingham Forest. On 3 September 1900 Bloomer scored the first-ever goal at The Hawthorns, the 1–1 draw against West Bromwich Albion being the first match played at the ground.[5]


In March 1906 Bloomer joined Middlesbrough for a fee of £750. Among team mates at his new club were Alf Common, the first £1,000 footballer, and Fred Pentland. He was topscorer at Middlesbrough in both the 1906–07 and 1907–08 seasons. He also scored four goals in a game against Woolwich Arsenal on 5 January 1907.

Return to Derby County[edit]

After four years at Middlesbrough he returned to the Rams in 1910 and helped them win the Second Division title in 1912. He scored his last league goal for Derby against Sheffield United on 6 September 1913 and his last match was against Burnley on 31 January 1914 when he was 40 years and 11 days.

England international[edit]

Between 1895 and 1907, Bloomer also made 23 England appearances, which was a record at the time. He made his debut in 3 March 1895, scoring twice in a 9–0 win against Ireland. He scored in all his first 10 international appearances, which remains a record for number of consecutive scoring appearances. He netted 19 times during these games. On 16 March 1896 Bloomer scored 5 goals for England against Wales and on 18 March 1901 he scored four goals against the same opposition. Bloomer thus became the first player to score two hat-tricks for England and was also the first to score four goals for England twice. He eventually finished his international career with 28 goals. During his international career Bloomer’s team mates included his County team mate John Goodall as well as Frank Becton, Jack Reynolds, Ernest Needham, Fred Spiksley, Samuel Wolstenholme and Vivian Woodward. Bloomer helped England win the British Home Championship eight times.[6][7][8] He held the overall England scoring record from April 1898 when he surpassed Tinsley Lindley's total of 14 with two goals against Scotland, until his final tally of 28 was overhauled by Vivian Woodward in 1911.

Prisoner in Germany[edit]

After retiring as a player Bloomer went to Germany in July 1914 to coach Britannia Berlin 92. However within three weeks of arriving the First World War broke out and he found himself interned at Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp in the Spandau district of Berlin. Bloomer was one of several former professional footballers among the detainees. Others included his former England colleagues Fred Spiksley and Samuel Wolstenholme, his former Middlesbrough team mate Fred Pentland, a Scotland international, John Cameron, John Brearley, once of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur and a German international Edwin Dutton who had previously played for Britannia Berlin 92.

The camp contained between 4,000 and 5,500 prisoners. Gradually a mini-society evolved and football became a popular activity. The Ruhleben Football Association was formed and cup and league competitions were organised with as many as 1,000 attending the bigger games. The teams adopted the names of established teams and in November 1914, Bloomer captained a Tottenham Hotspur XI, that also included Dutton, to victory in a cup final against an Oldham Athletic XI. Spiksley also played in the game, refereed by Wolstenholme, although it is uncertain which team he played for. On 2 May 1915 an England XI featuring Pentland, Wolstenholme, Brearley and Bloomer played a World XI captained by Cameron. Bloomer also played cricket at the camp and in May 1915 a Rubleben XI, featuring Bloomer and Brearley, played a Varsities XI in the Rubleban Cricket League. In July 1916 a Lancashire XI, featuring Bloomer, beat a Yorkshire XI that included Wolstenholme.[9][10]

In summer the prisoners turned to cricket on ‘The Oval’, played to packed houses. Bloomer established the camp batting record with an innings 204 and recorded bowling figures of 6 for 15. There was athletics too. Bloomer won the ‘Old Age Handicap’ at the Ruhleben Olympics, sprinting the 75 yards in 9.6 seconds. Everybody in camp knew ‘Steve’. When he finally left Ruhleben in March 1918, a farewell football match was staged in his honour.[11]

Coaching career[edit]

Immediately after the First World War Bloomer briefly coached Blauw-Wit Amsterdam in The Netherlands.[12][13] In 1923 he became coach of Real Unión in Spain and subsequently guided them to victory in the 1924 Copa del Rey. During the 1920s the Copa was effectively a play-off to decide the Spanish champions. Teams qualified by winning their regional titles and Real Unión represented Guipuzcoa. Nine other regional champions also qualified and in the first round of the competition Real beat Sevilla FC, the champions of Andalusia, 3–1 on aggregate. In the semi-final they faced the Catalan champions, FC Barcelona, coached by another Englishman, Jack Greenwell. Greenwall’s squad included the likes of Paulino Alcántara, Sagibarba and Josep Samitier. Despite this Real beat FC Barcelona 5–1 after a replay and went on to beat Real Madrid, the champions of central Spain, 1–0 in the final.[14]

Career statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup Total
1892–93 Derby County First Division 28 11 28 11
1893–94 25 18 2 0 27 18
1894–95 29 9 1 0 30 9
1895–96 25 22 5 5 30 27
1896–97 29 24 4 7 33 31
1897–98 23 15 3 5 26 20
1898–99 28 24 5 6 33 30
1899–1900 28 23 2 0 30 23
1900–01 36 23 5 2 41 25
1901–02 28 15 7 3 35 18
1902–03 24 12 2 1 26 13
1903–04 ** 20 * * ** **
1904–05 29 13 1 0 30 13
1905–06 23 12 3 0 26 12
Career total *** *** ** ** *** ***
1905–06 Middlesbrough First Division 9 6 9 6
1906–07 34 17 2 0 36 17
1907–08 34 14 1 0 35 14
1908–09 28 16 28 16
1909–10 20 8 2 1 22 9
Career total 125 61 5 1 130 62
1910–11 Derby County Second Division 28 20 4 4 32 24
1911–12 36 18 2 1 38 19
1912–13 First Division 29 13 1 1 30 14
1913–14 5 2 1 0 6 2
Career total 98 53 8 6 106 59


The bust of Bloomer at Pride Park



England Derby County


Real Unión

  • Campeonato de Guipuzcoa: 1
    • 1923–24

Baseball Player[edit]

Derby County Baseball Club


On 17 January 2009 after a long and sustained period of campaigning a bust of Bloomer was finally unveiled inside Pride Park, Derby. Bloomer's two grandsons, Steve Richards and Alan Quantrill (Modest but proud grandson of Rams legend Steve is mourned) unveiled the bust in the presence of Bloomer's family and relations, the sculptor Andrew Edwards and thousands of Derby County fans. (Steve Bloomer: Watching at last)


External links[edit]