Poly History – Arthur Kinnaird

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Quintin Hogg : Arthur Kinnaird

Arthur Kinnaird attended Eton with the Polytechnic’s founder Quintin Hogg and later helped his friend start the Ragged School for Boys in their rented quarters at York Place, at which they sought to teach the street urchins that populated parts of London.
Kinnaird, described in Mike Collett’s Complete Record of the FA Cup as he “of the long red beard and white trousers”, was the most famous gentleman footballer of his day. To give an indication of the sport as it was played then, Kinnaird was said to be a proponent of ‘hacking’ – a tradition certain members of the Poly continue to this day.
A man who played in every position, Kinnaird appeared in nine of the first 11 FA Cup finals between 1873 and 1883, the most of any player in the history of the competition. He won five of them.
Three of those were with the famous public school old boys team Wanderers, while the other two were with Old Etonians – he moved between the clubs a couple of times. He was the victorious captain on a pair of occasions with each.
Kinnaird is written into English football folklore for two acts: in the 1877 Cup final, when playing in goal for Wanderers, he carried the ball over the line accidentally – providing the first own-goal to be conceded in an important match.
This was only clarified recently as match reporting at the time was somewhat confusing, with the score changed to 2-1 in favour of Kinnaird’s side from 2-0: the goal put them one down, but they came back to defeat Oxford University and lift the trophy.
The other was following his fifth triumph when, paying little heed to etiquette, he celebrated by standing on his head in front of the Kennington Oval grandstand where the dignitaries were seated.
Throughout his illustrious career, however, Kinnaird continued to feature for Hanover United, the former name of the Polytechnic. As JAH Cotton, editor of 19th century magazine ‘Athletic News’, observed: “He was as much at home with the boys of the Polytechnic, London, as he was with the Old Etonians.”
There is mention of Kinnaird in the magazine that chronicled the fortunes of the Polytechnic organisation – both its sporting and other activities – which was known as Home Tidings then later the Polytechnic Magazine.
In Home Tidings Vol II, for example, he is mentioned in a match on Clapham Common that apparently degenerated into a series of outlandish fouls (particularly on the part of the opposition, of course, according to the author). Kinnaird was labelled as “prominent” in the match, despite losing it – and this in a year, 1881, that he went on to be defeated in a Cup final with Old Etonians.
Kinnaird also left a legacy to the administration of English football, serving as president of the Football Association for 33 years from 1884. He joined the initial committee after the formation of common rules in 1863 – then just 22 years of age – then became treasurer in 1871 before eventually replacing Major Francis Marindin in the top job.
He was a major influence in the organisation of the first international matches, held between England and Scotland in the early 1870s, and appeared for the Scots at Kennington Oval.
To mark his 21st year as head of the FA Kinnaird was presented with the original FA Cup following Newcastle’s victory over Barnsley in 1910. Eighteen inches tall and made of silver – it was in fact the second trophy after the first was stolen from a shop in the West Midlands and melted down – it was from that moment on replaced by a new design, that which we know today.
Kinnaird – who also served as president of the YMCA in England, was a director of Barclays Bank and held a high position in the Church of Scotland – died in 1923, just a few months before the opening of the Empire Stadium at Wembley and the famous white horse final.