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William Nevill Cobbold

WILLIAM NEVILL COBBOLD (1863 – 1922)

England will play their 1,000th international match when they host Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday. 

To mark the occasion we are celebrating the life of William Nevill Cobbold, the only player in the club’s 150+ year history to play for England. 

Born in Long Melford in 1863, William (perhaps better known as “Nuts” Cobbold) played in most of the club’s earliest matches as centre-forward. 

The nickname “Nuts” is said to originate from William’s school days because he was “extremely hard to crack”. 

As well as playing for his village team, William represented Cambridge University and also played for Corinthians. 

 William was capped nine times for his country between 1883 and 1887, scoring six goals. He made his debut in a 7-0 win against Ireland in February 1883, scoring twice in three minutes. 

Widely regarded as one of the best footballers of the Victorian era, William was described in his Times obituary as “the most individually brilliant dribbler, the player who could most often put in those thrusts that no skill could parry". 

As well as being a gifted footballer, William represented Cambridge University at tennis and was a handy cricketer, making one appearance for Kent. 

In later life William was a successful tutor, working as a “crammer” who prepared boys for entry into the British Army. 

England’s players will wear legacy numbers against Montenegro on Thursday. 

The number system starts with Robert Baker, the goalkeeper in England’s first ever international, right up to the most recently capped player Tyrone Mings (1,244). William’s legacy number is 108. 

Long Melford’s home match against FC Clacton on Wednesday (7.45pm kick off) will be held in memory of William. 

It’s a source of great pride to everyone at the club that one of our former players represented England. 

Nearly 100 years after his death in 1922, William’s memory lives on.

Photo appears with thanks to The Cobbold Family History Trust.

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