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Full Name: John William Sutcliffe (also known as John Willie)
Born: 14 April 1868
Came from: Manchester United Went to: Southend United
First game: 18 March 1905 Last game: 08 April 1912
Appearances: 218 (218/0) Goals: 0
Sutcliffe was born in Shibden, near Halifax, in 1868. His sporting career began in Rugby Union with Bradford before he joined Heckmondwike, where he was capped by England against the New Zealand Natives in 1899. When Heckmondwike were suspended by the RFU for alleged professionalism he switched codes and joined Bolton Wanderers, initially as a centre-forward but soon converting to goalkeeper.
In almost thirteen years with the Wanderers he played more than 330 games and won four England caps, becoming the last man to represent England at both Rugby and Association Football. He was also selected five times for the Football League representative side. During his time at the club he helped Bolton reach the FA Cup Final in 1894 and win promotion to the First Division in 1899-1900.
In 1902 Sutcliffe joined Millwall Athletic for a single season, where he won his fifth and final England cap, before spending 18 months with Manchester United, playing 28 times for the club. He moved to Home Park in January 1905 and by the end of the season had taken over from 'Tich' Horne as first-choice 'keeper, a position he retained for most of the next six years.
The Argyle handbook of 1905-06 describes him as "a marvel for his years" as he joined the club at the age of 36. He made his 218th and final Argyle appearance just days short of his 44th birthday. The 1911-12 handbook adds "England never had nor ever will have a better representative in goal".
In 1912 he joined Southend United as coach and played occasionally for the first team. During the First World War he served as manager of Dutch side Arnhem and after hostilities ceased coached Bradford City.
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By Brian Knight* in Cheltenham on 19/05/2014 ...
It is hardly likely that there will ever again be a player like John Willie Sutcliffe who, at the end of the 19th century, had the distinction of playing for England at both soccer and Rugby Union.
He was born in Shibden, near Halifax, in April 1868 and rugby was his first choice. From 1886 to 1887 he played as a full-back or centre three-quarter for his native Bradford. In 1888 he moved to another Yorkshire club, Heckmondwike, and while with that organisation he played for Yorkshire, the North of England and, finally, England, winning his cap against the Maoris in 1889.
Shortly afterwards, Sutcliffe’s rugby career was cut short when the Heckmondwike club was suspended for alleged professionalism. He decided to switch codes and in September 1889 signed for Bolton Wanderers as a centre-forward. Bolton converted him to a goalkeeper and he soon won a regular first-team place.
In 1894, Sutcliffe played for Wanderers in the FA Cup Final. By an odd coincidence Dai Davies, the next ... More
APPEARANCE DETAILS [reselect competitions]
The details below reflect appearances in all first-team competitions.
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