Fred Pentland

Fred Pentland

Pentland in 1909
Personal information
Full name Frederick Beaconsfield Pentland
Date of birth (1883-07-29)29 July 1883
Place of birth Wolverhampton, England
Date of death 16 March 1962(1962-03-16) (aged 78)
Place of death Lytchett Matravers, England
Playing position Outside right
Youth career
Avondale Juniors
Willenhall Swifts
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1900–1903 Small Heath 0 (0)
1903 Blackpool 8 (5)
1903–1906 Blackburn Rovers 51 (9)
1906–1907 Brentford 36 (12)
1907–1908 Queens Park Rangers 37 (14)
1908–1912 Middlesbrough 92 (11)
1912–1913 Halifax Town
1913 Stoke 12 (6)
1913–1914 Halifax Town
Total 200 (45)
National team
1909 England 5 (0)
Teams managed
1914 Germany (Olympic team)
1920 France
1920–1921 Racing de Santander
1922–1925 Athletic Bilbao
1925–1926 Atlético Madrid
1926–1927 Real Oviedo
1927–1929 Atlético Madrid
1929–1933 Athletic Bilbao
1934–1935 Atlético Madrid
1938–1940 Barrow

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Frederick Beaconsfield "Fred" Pentland (29 July 1883 – 16 March 1962) was an English football player and coach.

Pentland played club football in the Football League for Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough, in the Southern Football League for Brentford, Queens Park Rangers and Stoke, and in the Midland League for Halifax Town. He was capped five times for England in 1909. He played as a forward, mainly at outside right.

As a manager, he took charge of the Germany Olympic team, the French national team, and Spanish club sides Racing de Santander, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Madrid and Real Oviedo, before returning to England where he briefly managed Barrow.

Playing career

Pentland began his football career with Avondale Juniors and Willenhall Swifts before joining Football League Second Division club Small Heath in August 1900 at the age of 17.[1] He played for Small Heath's reserves in the Birmingham & District League,[2] but made no senior league appearances, and after the club's promotion to the First Division at the end of the 1900–01 season, it became more difficult to break through.[3][4] His only senior appearance was in a 2–1 defeat at Portsmouth in the 1901–02 FA Cup, playing at inside forward in a team weakened by injuries,[3][5] and in 1903 he signed for Blackpool.[4]

Blackpool used him at centre forward: he scored his first senior goal on 26 September, at home to Stockport County,[6] completed a run of five goals in four matches with a double in a 4–1 win away to Burnley on 17 October,[7] and eleven days later, signed for First Division Blackburn Rovers in a deal reported as "a good bargain" for Blackpool.[8] Over the next two-and-a-half seasons, Pentland contributed 9 goals from 51 League appearances[9] as Blackburn twice finished near the foot of the division and once climbed to mid-table.[10] In 1906, the club listed him for transfer at a fee of £250. There were no takers from the Football League, so he moved into the Southern League, initially with Brentford.[11] He had been so popular at Blackburn that a "crowd of players and friends", accompanied by the Palace Theatre band, saw him off at the station with renditions of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" and "Auld Lang Syne".[12]

He missed only two league matches and contributed twelve goals as Brentford finished in mid-table, but was not retained. He remained in west London with another Southern League club, Queens Park Rangers, who had ended the previous season eight places below Brentford. Under the management of James Cowan,[13] QPR won the 1907–08 title. Playing at outside right, Pentland scored 14 goals from 37 Southern League matches,[14] and was selected for The South to face The North in an international trial.[15] Although his performance in the trial did not earn him selection for his country, he was first reserve at outside right for that season's internationals.[16] As Southern League winners, Queens Park Rangers faced the Football League champions, in this case Manchester United, in a match for the new Football Association Charity Shield. Pentland played, and the match was drawn.[17] It was replayed in August, by which time Pentland had left QPR; although he was reportedly keen to play, and the Football Association granted special dispensation for his inclusion, QPR's directors did not select him.[18]

In June 1908, Pentland returned to the First Division with Middlesbrough,[16] who had to pay fees to both clubs with an interest in the player: £350 to Queens Park Rangers and £150 to Blackburn Rovers.[11] Playing with such teammates as Alf Common and Steve Bloomer,[19] he helped Middlesbrough finish ninth in his first season,[20] and in 1909, was rewarded with his first cap for England. He played at outside right, alongside captain Vivian Woodward, as England beat Wales and Scotland to complete victory in the 1908–09 British Home Championship.[1] He won three more caps, on a tour of central Europe that same year.[1] In the next two seasons, Pentland continued to play regularly, although Middlesbrough were less successful,[20][21] and in 1911 he spent some time suspended by the club for "neglecting his training".[22] He made only one first-team appearance in 1911–12, to take his totals to 11 goals from 96 appearances in all senior competition.[21]

In August 1912 he joined Halifax Town, newly admitted to the Midland League.[23] He scored freely, finishing the season as the club's top scorer,[24] as well as acting as player-manager,[25] and helped Halifax reach the first round proper of the 1912–13 FA Cup.[26] With the club in straitened financial circumstances, he was sold to Southern League Stoke in February for a substantial fee.[25] He remained with Stoke until December of that year, contributing six league goals in twelve appearances, before returning to Halifax[24] where his career ended a few moths later through injury.

Prisoner in Germany

After retiring as a player, Pentland went to Berlin in 1914 to take charge of the German Olympic football team.[1] However within a few months, the First World War broke out and he was subsequently interned at Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp in the Spandau district of Berlin. The camp contained between 4,000 and 5,500 prisoners. Gradually a mini-society evolved and football became a popular activity. Cup and league competitions were organised and as many as 1,000 attended the bigger games. Pentland was prominent in organising and playing football within the camp. He was chairman of the Ruhleben Football Association and regularly contributed to football articles in the camp magazine.[27][28][29]

Pentland was one of several former professional footballers at Ruhleben. Others included former club team mates and fellow England internationals, Samuel Wolstenholme and Steve Bloomer, veteran England international Fred Spiksley, a Scotland international, John Cameron, a German international Edwin Dutton, and John Brearley, once of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. On 2 May 1915 an England XI featuring Pentland, Wolstenholme, Brearley and Bloomer played a World XI captained by Cameron. Towards the end of the war an international triangular tournament called the Coupe de Allies, featuring a British XI, a French XI and a Belgium XI, was organised.[28][29] Pentland remained in the camp until the end of the war and then returned to England. During his recuperation, he met Nahneen Hayes, a war widow working as a nurse with a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD); the couple married in 1923.[1][30]

Olympic Games with France

In 1920 Pentland coached France at the Olympic Games. France received a bye to the quarter-final stages where they beat Italy 3–1. However, in the semi-finals they lost 4–1 to Czechoslovakia. The final stages of the tournament descended into farce and France missed out on the opportunity to win the silver medal. The host nation, Belgium won the gold medal by default after Czechoslovakia walked off in protest during the final, unhappy with the performance of the referee and the conditions surrounding the match. As a result, they were disqualified and a second consolation tournament was organised to decide the silver and bronze medallists. However France and Pentland, presuming the competition was over, had already returned home and Spain eventually won the silver medal.[30][31]

Manager in Spain

In 1920 Pentland joined Racing de Santander but after one season he was poached by Athletic Bilbao.[32] He revolutionised the way Athletic played, favouring the short-passing game, and in 1923 he led the club to victory in the Copa del Rey. However, in 1925 he left Athletic and went on to coach Atlético Madrid, leading them to the Copa final in 1926. He then left the Madrid club for one season and coached Real Oviedo. In 1927 he returned to Atlético Madrid and guided them to victory in the Campeonato del Centro. He was also manager at the Madrid side during the inaugural La Liga season.[32][33] In May 1929 he helped coach the Spanish national team, under manager José María Mateos, when they beat England 4–3 at Athletic Madrid's Metropolitano Stadium. As a result, Spain became the first non-British team to beat England.[30][34]

In 1929 Pentland rejoined Athletic Bilbao. He subsequently led them to La Liga–Copa del Rey "doubles" in 1930 and 1931. He also guided the club as they won the Copa del Rey four times in a row between 1930 and 1933 and finished as La Liga runners-up in 1932 and 1933.[33][35] In 1931 he also masterminded Athletic's 12–1 victory over Barcelona, the latter's worst ever defeat.[32] In 1933 he joined Atlético Madrid for a third time but returned to England at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.[1]

Coaching career

Pentland managed the Germany Olympic team, the French national team, and then club sides across Spain and England, namely Racing de Santander, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Madrid, Real Oviedo and Barrow.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Fred Pentland". England Football Online. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  2. "Birmingham and District League. Druids v. Small Heath Reserves". Wrexham Advertiser. 29 September 1900. p. 3 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  3. 1 2 Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9.
  4. 1 2 "Sporting Notes". Nottingham Evening Post. 6 June 1903. p. 6 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). Pentland is a forward and half-back of some promise, but he never had much chance with Small Heath, it being thought that the club were possessed of more experienced men.
  5. "The English Cup fight. Great match at Fratton Park. Heathens beaten". Evening News. Portsmouth. 16 December 1901. p. 6 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  6. "Blackpool v. Stockport". Lancashire Daily Post. 26 September 1903. p. 4 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  7. "Burnley v. Blackpool". Derby Daily Telegraph. 19 October 1903. p. 3 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  8. "Untitled". Lancashire Daily Post. 29 October 1903. p. 5 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  9. Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-899468-67-6.
  10. "Blackburn Rovers". Football Club History Database. Richard Rundle. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  11. 1 2 "Football. The result of the Kingaby case. Still a bad system". Daily News. London. 28 March 1912. p. 8 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  12. "Send-off for an ex-Rover". Lancashire Daily Post. 7 May 1906. p. 5 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  13. "Southern League. This year's Park Rangers". Daily Express. London. 3 September 1907. p. 6.
  14. Westerberg, Kenneth. "1907/08" (XLS). Ron Norris. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  15. "North v. South. Great game at Ardwick. Splendid Southern side". Manchester Courier. 28 January 1908. p. 9 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  16. 1 2 "Sporting paragraphs". Nottingham Evening Post. 18 June 1908. p. 8 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  17. "F.A. Charity Shield. Champions at Chelsea". Manchester Courier. 28 April 1908. p. 9 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  18. "The Charity Shield. United v. Queen's Park Rangers". Manchester Courier. 28 January 1908. p. 9 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
    Metcalf, Mark (2014). Manchester United 1907–1911. Stroud: Amberley. ISBN 978-1445622613.
  19. Maddison, Lee (3 August 2014). "A History of Boro in 50 Objects: Fred Pentland's international cap (1909)". The Gazette. Middlesbrough. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  20. 1 2 "Middlesbrough". Football Club History Database. Richard Rundle. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  21. 1 2 "Frederick Beaconsfield Pentland: Club stats". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  22. "No result at Middlesbrough". Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 6 February 1911. p. 3 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  23. "Preparing for football. Halifax Town greatly strengthened". Yorkshire Evening Post. 24 August 1912. p. 6 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  24. 1 2 "Sporting Paragraphs". Nottingham Evening Post. 19 December 1913. p. 10 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  25. 1 2 "Football". Evening News. Portsmouth. 7 February 1913. p. 5 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  26. 'Redbreast' (21 December 1912). "English Cup. Final qualifying round. Au revoir! Walsall beaten at Halifax". Walsall Advertiser. p. 8 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  27. "Prisoners O–P". The Ruhleben Story. Chris Paton. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  28. 1 2 Wilson, Jonathan (2013). Inverting the Pyramid: the History of Soccer Tactics. New York: Nation Books. ISBN 978-1-56858-963-3.
  29. 1 2 Ronay, Barney (December 2011). "The Bomb and the Bowler Hat". The Blizzard. No. 3. Sunderland: A19 Media. pp. 102–109.
  30. 1 2 3 Wilson, Jonathan (2010). The Anatomy of England: a History in Ten Matches. London: Orion Books. ISBN 978-1-4091-1364-5.
  31. Stokkermans, Karel (5 November 2015). "VII. Olympiad Antwerp 1920 Football Tournament". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  32. 1 2 3 Ball, Phil (March 2001). "Passing through: In an edited extract from his new book, Morbo, Phil Ball explains how Spain owes its patient style of football to an Englishman, Fred Pentland". When Saturday Comes. No. 169. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  33. 1 2 "Entrenadores: Frederick Pentland" [Coaches] (in Spanish). Athletic Club. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  34. Wilson, Jonathan (14 May 2009). "The Forgotten Story of ... Spain 4–3 England". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  35. "History: 1928–1937". Athletic Club. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
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