William Foulke (footballer)

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Not to be confused with Bill Foulkes, the former Manchester United footballer.
William Foulke
Foulke-sufc.jpg
William "Fatty" Foulke, seen here in Sheffield United colours
Personal information
Full name William Henry Foulke
Date of birth (1874-04-12)12 April 1874
Place of birth Dawley, Shropshire, United Kingdom
Date of death 1 May 1916(1916-05-01) (aged 42)
Place of death Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Blackwell Colliery
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1894–1905 Sheffield United 299 (0)
1905–1906 Chelsea 34 (0)
1906–1907 Bradford City 22 (0)
National team
1897 England 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

William Henry "Fatty" Foulke (12 April 1874 – 1 May 1916; sometimes spelled Foulk, Foulkes) was a professional cricketer and football player in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Foulke was renowned for his great size (6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[1] by some estimates) and weight, reaching perhaps 24 stone (152 kg; 336 lb) at the end of his career, although reports on his weight vary.

Playing career[edit]

He played four first-class matches for Derbyshire County Cricket Club in the 1900 season, but is remembered primarily as a goalkeeper for Sheffield United although he later played for Chelsea and Bradford City.

After being discovered playing for village side Blackwell in a Derbyshire Cup tie at Ilkeston Town, Foulke made his debut for Sheffield United against West Bromwich Albion on 1 September 1894 and led the team to three FA Cup finals (winning two) and a League Championship.

According to The Cat's Pyjamas: The Penguin Book of Cliches (ISBN 9780141025162), the "Who ate all the pies?" chant was first sung in 1894 by Sheffield United supporters, and directed at Foulke 300 lb (140 kg).[2]

He also won a single international cap for England in 1897 against Wales.

At the end of the first match in the 1902 Cup Final Foulke protested to the officials that Southampton's equalising goal should not have been allowed. Foulke left his dressing room unclothed and pursued the referee, Tom Kirkham, who took refuge in a broom cupboard. Foulke had to be stopped by a group of F.A. officials from wrenching the cupboard door from its hinges to reach the hapless referee.[3][4] In the replay, Sheffield United won 2–1, with Foulke being required to make several saves to keep United in the match. He was also in goal for United when they suffered an FA Cup exit to Second Division Burslem Port Vale in 1898.

Bradford City A.F.C. in the 1906-07 season - Foulkes centre of the back row

He then moved to Chelsea for a fee of £50 and was made club captain. Foulke by now was remarkably temperamental. If he thought his defenders were not trying hard enough, he would walk off the field. Opposing forwards who incurred his displeasure would be picked up and thrown bodily into his goal. He was, however, a great crowd puller, and Chelsea decided to exploit this. To draw even more attention to his size, they placed two small boys behind his goal in an effort to distract the opposition even more. The boys would sometimes run and return the ball when it went out of play, and quite by accident, ball boys came into being.[5] Foulke stayed for just one season before moving to his final club, Bradford City.

Foulke died in 1916 and was buried in Burngreave cemetery, Sheffield. His death certificate gives "cirrhosis" as the major cause of death.[6] Some modern sources contend that, beset by poverty, he was reduced to earning a pittance in a "beat the goalie" sideshow attraction in Blackpool where he caught pneumonia, from which he died. These stories are not supported by contemporary accounts and seem to be apocryphal.

Foulke appears in the Mitchell and Kenyon films, playing in a match on 6 September 1902.

Career stats[edit]

Club Season Division League Apps FA Cup Apps Other Apps Total Apps
Sheffield United 1894–95 Division 1 29 3 5 37
1895–96 Division 1 28 2 4 34
1896–97 Division 1 30 1 0 31
1897–98 Division 1 29 2 0 31
1898–99 Division 1 32 9 1 42
1899–1900 Division 1 33 5 2 40
1900–01 Division 1 29 7 0 36
1901–02 Division 1 26 9 0 35
1902–03 Division 1 25 0 0 25
1903–04 Division 1 28 3 0 31
1904–05 Division 1 10 0 0 10
Chelsea 1905–06 Division 2 34 1 0 35
Bradford City 1905–06 Division 2 1 0 0 1
1906–07 Division 2 21 2 0 23
Total 355 44 12 411

Honours[edit]

Sheffield United

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Can footballers large it?". BBC News. 7 August 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2008. 
  2. ^ Evans, Rebecca (2007-09-11). "Football legend inspired pie chant". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  3. ^ Bull, David; Brunskell, Bob (2000). Match of the Millennium. Hagiology. pp. 30–33. ISBN 0-9534474-1-3. 
  4. ^ An account of the incident by the match linesman J. T. Howcroft suggests this version may be an embellishment of the facts. See "Colossus", p. 79.
  5. ^ The Sunday Times Illustrated History of Football. Reed International Books Limited. 1996. p16 ISBN 1-85613-341-9
  6. ^ Phythian, Graham (2005). Colossus, The True Story of William Foulke. Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-3274-5. 


See also[edit]

External links[edit]