Two Billy Mugfords

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Two Billy Mugfords!

By Morgan Phillips

Friday February 17, 2012

If you've seen my blog dated November 14, 2011 retelling Fulham's 1891 triumph in the West London Observer Cup, you will have noticed the name of Mugford in the victorious team.

Henry Shrimpton in his Foundation History of the club tells us more:
'The author still has a vivid memory of him as outside right and how he would tuck his shoulders and flash down the field just like a greyhound slipping the leash. When he did this there was surely trouble for the opponents.'

William Hugh Mugford was born in Kentismeare Devon around 1872. His father, a dairyman, was one of the thousands of tradesmen who converged on the capital, hoping for better fortune. In 1891 the family were living in Fulham and William, a solicitor's clerk, was playing regularly for his local club. His elder brother John Joseph also helped out on occasion. William married Frances Roberts in 1895 and in 1908 when Fulham were playing their first season in the Football League the family's address was 73 Cloncurry Street, a short stroll from Craven Cottage. We can guess that Billy still supported the club.

Four decades later, having moved to Wimbledon, he provided information for Henry Shrimpton's Foundation History of Fulham FC (which you can now read on the Friends of Fulham website - opens new window).

There was actually another Billy Mugford of a similar age. William George Mugford was born in Pimlico in 1867. His father, a housepainter, had also moved from Devon, but unfortunately died in London in 1881 leaving his wife and children unable to support themselves. With reluctance Mrs Mugford applied to the Chelsea Workhouse where Billy and his brother had to live separated from their mother and sisters.

Life must have been harsh but at least the family avoided starvation, and Billy may have learned a trade for he became a coachman to a rich family. In 1893 he married Clara Woods and they brought up three children in Tynemouth Street, Fulham. He died in 1930, three decades before his namesake.

There is no doubt that Billy, the free-scoring forward, was William Hugh. It would in any case have been easier for him as a solicitor's clerk to keep his Saturday afternoons free than for William George, the family coachman.

But the workhouse boy who helped Fulham to cup victory would have made a much more dramatic story...

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

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