Camberwell, London born inside right Edgar Kail signed for London based amateur club Dulwich Hamlet from schools football in 1915 aged 15 years old. Kail was a committed amateur at Dulwich Hamlet, turning down moves to professional clubs to stay at the club. In 1919-20 Dulwich won its first Isthmian League title, winning the league on a better goal average than Nunhead. Kail also played as they won the FA Amateur Cup, beating Tufnell Park 1-0 in the Final at The Den, Millwall. He won the FA Amateur Cup again with Dulwich in 1932 when they beat Marine 7-1 at Upton Park, and The London Senior Cup in 1925 as Dulwich beat Clapton 2-0 in the Final.
He first played for The Amateurs against The Professionals in the 1924 FA Charity Shield, when they were beaten 3-1 at Highbury, Kail scoring their goal. In October 1925 he played in The Amateurs’ sensational 6-1 thrashing of The Professionals in the Charity Shield at White Hart Lane, and in October 1926 he scored as The Amateurs again scored a major victory, beating The Professionals 6-3 at Maine Road, Manchester. He also played in the final Professionals v Amateurs Charity Shield, won 3-0 by The Professionals at The Den in October 1929.
By now he was a seasoned England amateur international, being first selected for England Amateurs in a 4-0 win over Ireland at Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast in November 1920. In addition to two England Schoolboy appearances in 1915, he made 21 appearances for England Amateurs, scoring 9 goals, winning his final cap in a 1-0 victory against Scotland at Dulwich in March 1933.
But the most notable feature of his career was his appearances for England, when he became the last non-league player to play for the full England team. Having been selected but withdrawn from an England squad to play France in 1925, he was again selected in the squad to play Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1929, but he was a non playing reserve. He then went on England’s summer tour the following month, making his international debut in a 4-1 win against France in Paris, scoring two of England’s goals. He played two days later in a 5-1 win over Belgium in Brussels, and finally four days after that in a 4-3 defeat to Spain in Madrid. He was also a non playing reserve for two Home Championship matches against Ireland and Wales towards the year end.
He signed amateur forms for Chelsea in March 1930 but did not make any League appearances. He also played a charity match for Queen’s Park against Rangers in May 1932. He retired in 1933. He was the last non-league player to play for the full England team, although not the last amateur – Bernard Joy of The Casuals and Arsenal played for England in 1936.
Edgar Kail holds the record for the most goals scored for Dulwich Hamlet, 427 between 1919 and 1933, and also the most goals scored in a season, 53 in 1925-26 when Dulwich also won The Isthmian League. He isn’t the only Dulwich Hamlet player to play for England, goalkeeper Bert Coleman was capped against Wales in March 1921 In the 1990’s the approach to Dulwich’s ground, Champion Hill, was renamed Edgar Kail Way in his honour. In 2003, a blue plaque dedicated to Kail was unveiled by Southwark Council at the site of Champion Hill. Edgar Kail remains a cult figure amongst Dulwich Hamlet fans, with his name still sung at games each week.
NB in the photograph Kail stands with Dulwich Hamlet teammate and England international goalkeeper Bert Coleman.