First England captain honoured with memorial stone at his Willesden grave

PUBLISHED: 13:08 19 August 2013 | UPDATED: 13:08 19 August 2013

A new memorial has been unveiled to Cuthbert Ottaway at Paddington Old Cemetery (pic credit: John Armstead)

A new memorial has been unveiled to Cuthbert Ottaway at Paddington Old Cemetery (pic credit: John Armstead)


The first ever England football team captain has been honoured with the unveiling of a memorial stone at his forgotten grave in Willesden.

Paul McKay with author Mick Southwick (pic credit: John Armstead)Paul McKay with author Mick Southwick (pic credit: John Armstead)

Cuthbert Ottaway (July 19, 1850 – April, 2 1878) was the first back in 1872 at the world’s first international football match, England v Scotland.

Following his death at the age of just 27 he was buried in Paddington Old Cemetery off Willesden Lane, in a plot with ‘a granite ledger [stone slab] on marble plinths with iron standards and railings’ and inscription.

However after more than 100 years, the memorial was judged to have become unsafe and in the 1970s, it was removed (before Brent Council took the cemetery over).

The plot has been returned back to its former glory after fan Paul McKay, a member of England Fans, led a funding raising drive, receiving support from number of people and organisations including the FA and the Professional Footballers Association.

Altogether The Cuthbert Ottaway Memorial Fund raised £2,550 to pay for a fitting memorial. Mr McKay said: “I was horrified when I first learned of the state of Cuthbert Ottaway’s neglected grave.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to unveil a fitting memorial for England’s first football captain.

“Through the support of Cuthbert’s immediate descendants, who live in Canada, and the kind generosity of many individuals and organisations, Cuthbert now has a memorial suitable for a national hero.

“I would like to pay particular thanks to Brooke Hunter and Patricia Reid who are immediate descendants of Cuthbert who have given me their permission and support to erect a memorial. I can not put into words my appreciation for their kindness.”

Liverpool player and England captain Steven Gerrard said: “I never knew Cuthbert Ottaway’s story before. He had the honour of being the first England captain and it is great that what he achieved is being recognised in this way.”

Brent Council helped in arranging the transfer of the memorial and burial rights and with arrangements of the service.

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