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World Football Transfer Records No.2 – Alf Common

Ever since the introduction of professionalism in football by the English FA in 1885, there have been 43 world transfer records. Over the next few months, Karl Graham will be bringing us up to date with the history behind every single record.This week we look at No. 2, involving a certain Englishman by the name of Alf Common.

No. 2 Alf Common

It took eight years for Willie Groves’ transfer record to be surpassed. It involved the transfer of Englishman Alf Common, who broke the record twice within a year by moving back and forth between Sunderland and Sheffield United. The first fee involved was the £325 paid to Sunderland by Sheffield United in 1901. Common only stayed for a year however, after Sunderland agreed to pay £520 to buy him back. This fee translates to approximately £56,000 of today’s money.

Alfred Common was born on the 25th of May 1880 in Millfield, Sunderland. He was a centre forward who caused a bit of controversy during his playing career. He joined Sunderland in 1900 and helped them to second place in Division One. He then made the move to Sheffield United and went on to score for them in their 1902 FA Cup final defeat of Southampton.

He became a mainstay of the Blades’ team until he refused to re-sign for them in favour of moving back to Sunderland for ‘business interests’ (this was during the days of maximum wage) in 1904. Sheffield United’s reserve goalkeeper also made the move to Sunderland as part of the deal, which has posed questions over the exact fee Common moved for.

Once again, he didn’t stick around long at Sunderland and re-broke the transfer record, after Andy McCombie’s move in 1904, when he moved 35 kilometres up the road to Middlesbrough for a then astounding fee of £1000. The transfer was such a shock it led to investigations by the FA. This move proved to be his most prolific, scoring 65 goals in 178 appearances and helping Boro to avoid relegation in his first season there.

He later went on to have a largely successful spell at Arsenal before he was sold to Preston North End. Despite his talent he only ever made three appearances for England before retiring in 1914, when he became a pub landlord before dying in 1946 aged 65.

Karl Graham, Pundit Arena


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.