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A.F. Kinnaird

A.F. Kinnaird, later Lord Kinnaird, was one of the most brilliant of the first generation of public-school footballers.   Playing in long white trousers and quartered cap and sporting a superb flowing red beard, he was a great crowd pleaser: at the 1882 cup final he stood on his head in front of the stands.  

Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird was born in London on 16 February 1847, the only son of the tenth Lord Kinnaird of Inchture and second Baron Kinnaird of Rossie. After preparatory school at Cheam, Kinnaird went to Eton College in October 1861, precisely when football was first being developed as an organized sport in the leading schools.

On going down from Cambridge in 1869, Kinnaird began his banking career, becoming a partner in the West End firm Ransom, Bouverie & Co., in which the Kinnaird family had been involved since the eighteenth century. When further amalgamations led to the establishment of Barclays Bank Ltd in 1896, Kinnaird became a director, as well as principal director of the local head office in Pall Mall, which was later named in his honour. He retained these banking appointments until his death.

While in London Kinnaird began his work for voluntary associations, inspired by the example of his parents and of his father's friend Lord Shaftesbury.  He was a founder of the Boys' Brigade in 1870 and in the same year, with his Etonian friend Quintin Hogg, he established Homes for Working Boys. It was estimated that in total he held some twenty presidencies of voluntary organizations and over forty vice-presidencies and thirty treasurerships.

Kinnaird is best remembered, however, for his key role in the development of association football. As one of the most brilliant of the first generation of public-school footballers, he made his début for Scotland in 1873 and captained Wanderers to victory over Oxford University in the second FA cup final, scoring ‘a very well-obtained goal’ after ‘a splendid run, outpacing the opposite backs’. His record of FA cup final appearances will probably never be equalled: he played in a total of eleven finals (if two replayed matches are included) and captained the Old Etonians five times and the Wanderers twice.

Kinnaird was a notable exponent of ‘hacking’ – the deliberate kicking of an opponent’s shins – which he, and many early amateur players, considered crucial to the ‘manly’ character of football.    His mother once told the FA secretary C W Alcock, of her fear that Arthur would one day return with a broken leg.  ‘If he does, it won’t be his own’, Alcock replied. 

In February 1882 he backed a tough resolution against professionalism. The following month he captained the Old Etonians to FA cup victory over a quasi-professional, northern working-class team, Blackburn Rovers.  But in 1883 another Blackburn team finally overcame the Old Etonians, despite another valiant performance by Kinnaird. The age of the public-school team in first-class football was over.

In 1890 Kinnaird became president of the FA, in succession to Sir Francis Marindin.   For Kinnaird, apart from being sheer fun, football had great moral and physical benefits: ‘I believe that all right-minded people have good reason to thank God for the great progress of this popular national game’, he said late in life. He died at their London home, 10 St James's Square, on 30 January 1923.