Friday, 28 September 2012

Sepia Saturday 145: Who was Percy Bird?

Sepia Saturday 145
Another spell working in Guadalcanal has sadly kept me from contributing regularly to Sepia Saturday. I'll just make this one because I have an image that I "prepared earlier" but, for some forgotten reason, failed to post at the time.

Image collection of Brett Payne
My offering to you this week is a large format print, mounted on card measuring roughly 6" x 4" (107 x 150mm), although the original size might have been slightly larger since it has been, as Spike Milligan might have put it, "ruefully" trimmed. The informal group portrait depicts a football team (albeit one player is missing), complete with referee, coach and a couple of hangers on in overcoats, who obviously have more managerial or proprietary roles. They are arranged against what appears to be the wooden back wall of a shed with a corrugated iron roof, of rather rough construction.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The referee at far right has a whistle in his right hand, and his left hand is placed in his hip pocket, pulling aside his jacket to reveal fob chains, no doubt holding the all important time piece.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The main in light coloured shirt who I assume is the coach appears to have a piece of paper in his right hand, and something else in his left, although I cannot make out the latter (my wife suggests it may be a cigarette). He's the only one of the fourteen who appears even remotely pleased with the team's performance ...

Image collection of Brett Payne
... so perhaps the diminutive size of the silver cup balanced on top of the football is an indication that they came second.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The back of the card mount is inscribed in pencil:
Percy Bird
but I fancy this is not in a hand contemporary with the photograph, which I estimate - from the style of clothing - to have been taken shortly before the Great War, say around 1905-1915.

Image collection of Brett Payne
Percy Bird seems to have had a little more style than the other members of his team, with a fancy spotted tie, but otherwise does not seem particularly remarkable. I've been spectacularly unsuccessful in unearthing anything about a Durham football player named Percy Bird, so perhaps his appearances were limited to the amateur field.

Image collection of Brett Payne
Purchased on eBay at roughly the same time, and possibly - although not necessarily - from the same original collection, was another card-mounted print (95 x 140mm on 113 x 152mm) of a football player. His striped shirt very closely matches that of the team pictured above, but it may well have been a common design. He is standing against a brick-and-stone wall, but there are no clues as to who he might have been or where he was from. I can't match his face to any of the players in the group photograph.

Perhaps some kind reader who is a soccer fan will be able to deduce more in due course, but for the moment I'm going to call it a day and suggest that, for further sporting antics and guaranteed entertainment, you head over to Sepia Saturday.
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