THE oldest piece of football footage has been released - and it features Blackburn Rovers beating West Brom 4-1 in September 1898.

It's not crystal clear and you can't hear Gary Neville's punditry over the top but you can definitely make out the 12,000-strong Lancashire crowd - even if you don't recognise Ewood Park.

Rovers can be seen playing in pale blue and white halves - similar to the kit worn today by the likes of Jordan Rhodes and Tom Cairney.

Goals from Daniel Hurst, John Moreland and two from Thomas Jackson ensured a home victory for a side which included Rovers legend Bob Crompton.


He would later be dubbed ‘the greatest Rover of them all’ and even managed the side between 1926 and 1930, leading them to the FA Cup victory over Huddersfield Town in 1928.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Bob Crompton (left) calling the toss in 1910.

This film was made two days after his 19th birthday, and he went on to have a remarkably illustrious career, making 529 league appearances at full back.

He is one of the most capped players in all of Blackburn’s history and he led the club to league championships both in 1912 and 1914.

Crompton made his debut for England against Wales in 1902 and played more games in total for his country (41) than any player previously. He held this record until 1952, when it was surpassed by Billy Wright.

On the 16th of March 1941, Bob Crompton was watching his side play against Burnley. As the final whistle was blown, signalling a triumphant 3-2 win for Blackburn, Crompton suffered a heart attack and collapsed.

He was rushed to hospital straight away but tragically died later that evening.

The film itself was recorded by Arthur Cheetham, a Welsh-based filmmaker and one of the pioneers of film in its early forms.

The video was unearthed by Swedish app developers and creators of the free-to-use football apps Forza Football and Forza 90 - Football Addicts.


[Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion. Autumn 1898] from NWfilmarchive on Vimeo.