Robert Cunliffe Gosling, born in Farnham, Essex on 15th June 1868, was educated Eton, where he like his five younger brothers excelled at football and cricket. Gosling progressed to Cambridge University, where he went to Trinity College and gained his Blue at football in the Varsity match of 1890 and also won a Blue at cricket.
Gosling also appeared for Old Etonians and The Corinthians at football. For The Corinthians he scored 14 goals in 49 appearances between 1889 and 1899. He won his first England cap against Wales at Wrexham in a 2-0 victory in March 1892, scoring his first goal against Scotland on his next cap in April 1893. He won a total of 5 caps for England through to April 1895 and scored two goals, and showed himself – according to his contemporary G.O. Smith – one of the outstanding international forwards of the day: a shade less talented than Steve Bloomer, perhaps, but far less inclined to keep the ball, and so easier to play with.
Described by Sir Frederick Wall, the long-serving Secretary of the Football Association, as “the richest man who ever played football for England”, Gosling was the scion of a wealthy Essex family and the oldest of seven brothers (and one of 14 children), four of whom played cricket for Eton against Harrow. He was, recalled the early sportwriter JAH Catton (“Tityrus”), “the most aristocratic-looking man I ever saw”, a view concurred in by his England international colleague C.B. Fry, who described him as “the best-looking man of my acquaintance” and one of the players whose presence in the Corinthians’ side contributed to “their reputation up North as a team of toffs”.
Gosling’s bearing lent him an imposing presence on the football field. He looked, Wall recalled, “every inch the high-born…
NB the photograph was taken before England’s match with Scotland at The Athletic Ground, Richmond on 1st April 1893. Gosling scored England’s opening goal in a 5-1 victory.