Robert Topham

The Oswestry Town campaign, supported by the Advertizer has been taking fans on a walk down memory lane in recent weeks with feature stories and photographs from key moments in its history.

Robert Topham was born in Ellesmere in 1867 and was educated at Oswestry School from 1878 to 1886. During his time at school he excelled at sport, captaining the school teams at football and cricket.

Playing at Outside Right, Topham was said to be a speedy football player and difficult to contain. Whilst at school, he played for Oswestry FC, Runners Up in the Welsh Cup replay v Druids in 1884- 1885 after Topham had scored in the first match at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham.

In the same year, Topham was selected by the Welsh FA to play for Wales v Scotland but declined the opportunity to appear in his first international whilst still a schoolboy.

Topham went up to Keble College, Oxford in 1886 where he was a member of the Keble Football XI from 1886-1889, captaining the team in the last year.

Despite representing the university in several first-class matches, Topham did not gain his ‘blue’, and from 1891-1896, although he remained an amateur throughout his playing career, Topham was registered to play with the professional side Wolverhampton Wanderers, scoring 19 goals in 32 appearances.

The highlight of Topham’s Wolves career was the 1892-1893 season when Wolves met Everton in the FA Cup final, winning 1-0 in difficult conditions as the spectators crowded to the very edges of the pitch and impeded the players.

Topham could have been said to have been a gentleman player who dabbled briefly in the world of the working class professional. In the early 1890s, he also played for the London FA teams London Casuals and Chiswick Park, winning an FA Amateur Cup Runners Up medal with Casuals in 1894.

From 1894 to 1898, he was also a member of Corinthians, a club dedicated to the amateur spirit, reputed to be a team of gentlemen. Composed mainly of ex-public school amateurs, they refused to enter cup competitions believing that fair play was the most important part of football. Perhaps their most important role was as ambassadors for English football, touring widely around Europe and the world. Topham played his part, captaining their first ever foreign tour to South Africa in 1897.

Topham played for England twice; in 1892 as a Wolves player and later in 1894. Topham’s brother Arthur was also a footballer and played for England twice although he never dallied with the professional game.

Robert Topham retired to be a school master after football and died in Kent in 1931.

Any ex-players or staff from Oswestry Town can get in touch with the club by emailing charlotte@bhinspire.com to reserve their place.