Full back Bob Crompton is one of the classic footballers of the pre WW1 era. He was a true one club stalwart who signed professional in September 1896 and played for Blackburn Rovers between 1897 (he made his debut at Stoke City in April 1897) and his retirement in May 1920, playing two league games aged 40 in 1919-20. Despite the interruption of WW1 by which time he was already nearly 35 he went on to play 530 league games for Rovers alone, 577 in total, scoring 14 goals. Almost always sporting an impeccable moustache, he was captain of the Rovers teams that won the League Championships of both 1912 and 1914. He also won an incredible 41 caps for England between March 1902 when he was awarded his first cap against Wales and April 1914 when he played against Scotland in an era when there were relatively very few internationals and no substitutes, his record number of caps was only overhauled by Billy Wright in the 1952. He had surpassed the previous record when he won his 24th cap. Over 12 seasons he only failed to play for England in 1904-05. He was captain of England on 22 occasions, and also represented The Football League on 17 occasions. As one commentator has pointed out: “Bearing in mind there were only three regular international matches each year, then the odd tour in the summer, in modern terms this would have equated to something in the region of 120 caps. No wonder that in his time he was considered the greatest player in the world.” In 1926 he became manager of Blackburn Rovers staying for 5 years and also had a 2 year spell as manager of Bournemouth in 1935 and 1936, before returning to Blackburn once again as manager in 1938, a position of which he was still incumbent when suffering a fatal heart attack during a game against Burnley in 1941. Charlie Buchan said of him “Crompton was undoubtedly the outstanding full-back of his time. A commanding personality, he was the best kicker of a ball I ever ran across.”

Bob Crompton in 1910

Bob Crompton in 1910.