I’ve just been groping through piles of statistics and have come across a thoroughly melancholy fact, namely that there are no survivors of England’s pre-War internationals.
The earliest international match for which we have a living English representative is Northern Ireland v England on 28th September 1946: Sir Tom Finney (b. 5th April 1922) scored on his war-delayed debut.
But there’s relief in that Sir Tom isn’t actually the oldest surviving international: that honour belongs to Phil Taylor of Liverpool, born on 18th September 1917. Taylor actually made his league debut on 28th March 1936, so we are still in the company of pre-War footballers, if only just.
Bert Williams, goalkeeper against the USA in 1950, is also still in the land of the living. “The Cat” may be the oldest surviving player with a nickname: he was born on 31st January 1920.
All this means that there are at least three former league players who predate the grouping of the railways.
Here’s Sir Tom Finney, combining with Sir Stanley Matthews to score against Uruguay in the 1954 World Cup: