“He did more to popularise soccer than any man who ever lived”*
Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird (1847-1923) was a key figure in the development of association football.A star footballer in his youth, he played in football’s first representative match (London v Sheffield in 1866), the first international (England v Scotland, 1870), and in nine of the first twelve FA Cup Finals (1872-1883) – a record to this day. He was a figure of such renown that he was elected president of the Football Association, and was presented with the FA Cup itself.
First lord of footbool – the life and time of Arthur
In his time and under his leadership, football rose from obscurity, played on muddy parks in front of a handful of spectators, to become Britain’s national sport, with crowds of up to 100,000 spectators. AF Kinnaird played an integral role as football swept the country like wildfire, thanks to the creation of easily-understood rules and crowd-pulling competitions.
Yet he was no mere footballer made good: a consummate philanthropist, he spent his youthful nights helping destitute orphans to read and write, devoted every waking hour to good causes, and earned a fortune in his career as a banker only to give much of it away. As Lord Kinnaird, an ancient title he inherited in 1887, he led national bodies such as the YWCA and the YMCA, was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and fostered the spread of evangelical religion.
Even his sporting accomplishments were widespread, including a Cambridge University tennis blue, university swimming champion and first place in an international canoe race.
This was, however, no life of unburdened triumph: he lost two sons, killed in the First World War, tragedies which eventually led to the demise of the Kinnaird title before the 20th century was out.
This website is a tribute to Arthur Kinnaird, created by the sports historian Andy Mitchell. Watch here for details of his biography, to be published soon.