James Howcroft

James Howcroft was Redcar and Coatham's goalkeeper

James Howcroft was Redcar and Coatham’s goalkeeper in the first days of football in the area. Described as “the Prince of Northern Goalkeepers,” Howcroft was well respected for his fearless command of goal. A regular in Cleveland’s representative side, he was also a backup for the revered Sheffield Association team. He also played for Redcar Crusaders in the days when a merger between the town’s two main teams seemed likely. Although his abilities saw him reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup and earn a call up to the Cleveland Association squad, his achievements went far beyond the football pitch.

He soon gained a reputation as one of the finest referees in the region. Despite being told he had “only an application to make” in order to become a Football League referee, he believed the post should be given on merit and not through paperwork. Although his skills were never seen in the League, he often took charge of FA Cup matches. He had the honour of running the line at three consecutive FA Cup finals.

James Howcroft was vice president of the Football Association

A tireless worker, Howcroft juggled his football involvements alongside a career with Redcar Council. He fought to promote the game in the region, earning him the honour of becoming president of the Cleveland FA. He held this post for decades, notably being presented with a long service award by Lord Kinnaird, chairman of the FA.

Howcroft would later join Lord Kinnaird at the FA. First as a vice president and later as chairman of the FA Amateur Cup Committee and a member of the FA Benevolent Fund. He held these posts until his death at the age of 72 in 1925.

James Howcroft was a linesman at three consecutive FA Cup finals
Howcroft (back to camera) in his role as linesman in the 1896 FA Cup final at Crystal Palace

See also

Redcar and Coatham

Redcar Crusaders