Bookman Louis Image 2 Luton Town 1922

Bookman Louis Image 2 Luton Town 1922


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Outside left Louis Bookman (born with the surname Buchalter in Zagaren, now in Lithuania, then still part of Russia) was a multi-talented sportsman, and won representative honours at both football and cricket. The son of a Rabbi, his family immigrated to Ireland in 1895 to escape the persecution of the Jews in their native land, changing their name to Bookman by deed-poll in an effort to fit in with their new surroundings.

In 1911, when Bookman gained an Irish Amateur cap against England, he became the first recorded Jew to earn international footballing honours. At the time he was playing for Belfast Celtic, who were just beginning to challenge for honours on a regular basis. Bookman’s Orthodox parents were reportedly unhappy with how he chose to spend his Saturdays, the traditional Jewish Sabbath.Transferred to First Division club Bradford City in February 1912, making his debut the same month in an FA Cup tie against Chelsea, he added another first as the English top flight’s first Jewish player. Bookman was slow to settle, appearing 34 times in three seasons and scoring twice. During his time in Yorkshire he did was selected for the full Ireland international team for the first time, appearing in a 2-1 win over Wales at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in January 1914 during the 1914 Home Nations Championship – it was a victory that set Ireland on track for their first ever Championship success.

The following season Bookman was transferred to West Bromwich Albion, making 16 appearances and scoring once before football was suspended in May 1915 due to the onset of the First World War. During the War he returned to Ireland and played for Glentoran and Shelbourne.

When Bookman resumed his international career after the War he signed for Luton Town in May 1919, where despite passing thirty, he enjoyed the most sustained first-team football of his Football League career, scoring 5 goals in 77 games over his two seasons there. He added a further three international caps to his total during 1921, including in an impressive 1-1 draw with England. After a brief spell of 11 games with Port Vale in 1923-24, Bookman returned to Ireland, signing for Shelbourne for a final season before retiring in 1925.

“A brave and determined outside left who performed well at full back in later years”, Bookman also began to excel at cricket in the 1920’s, having signed up with Dublin based Railway Union Cricket Club for their inaugural season in 1919, and later joining the Leinster CC. A left handed batsman and slow left arm bowler, he played at minor counties level for Bedfordshire and represented the Gentlemen of Ireland against the Gentlemen of Scotland.

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