Ernie Payne never played a Football League game for us. Yet he was the catalyst that saw us turn professional in 1895.
Born in Fulham in 1876, he was playing for his local club – but was never a regular choice. Indeed, during season 1892-93 he was only twice selected for the Fulham first team.
His talent on the wing certainly deserved more so we invited him to play for us in a London Senior Cup game against Old St. Marks in October, 1893, which he was happy to accept. But when he returned to Fulham’s old Eel Brook Common ground to collect his kit, it had all gone.
So the teenager arrived at our former Northumberland Park base without his boots. A suitable size could not be found in our equipment store leaving Ernie in shirt, shorts, shin pads and socks – but still wearing the shoes he had turned up in.
The coach lent him 10 shillings (50p) to buy a pair and, after a visit to a local sports shop, Payne played. However nobody could foresee the furore that was about to break!
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