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.
A new one shall be revealed on the site every week, from the very first one in 1893 to the most recent in 2013, and who knows there may even be a new record set before we reach the end.
This week it’s transfer record number 9 and the move of Warney Cresswell to Sunderland.
No. 9 Warney Cresswell to Sunderland
Syd Puddefoot’s record had only been set a few months, when Sunderland acquired Warney Cresswell from South Shields for £5,500, approximately £235,000 of today’s money.
Warneford “Warney” Cresswell was born on the 5th of November 1897 in South Shields, England. He was a right-back whose class on the pitch led to him becoming known as “The Prince of Full Backs.” He was popular with the fans of all teams and was regarded as a gentleman, on and off the pitch.
Due to the suspension of football in England following the outbreak of World War 1, Cresswell was forced to start his career in Scotland. He represented Morton, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian during his time in Scotland, before enlisting in the army. His time in the army led to him being captured and held in a prisoner-of-war camp until the war had ended.
Upon his return to England, Cresswell signed for his hometown club. He played for South Shields during the 1919-20 season, their first in the Football League. A ninth place finish was a good start and they gradually improved over the next two seasons, with eight and sixth place finishes respectively.
He made his England debut in a match against Wales in 1921, which made him South Shields’ only England international. He would make the last of his seven appearances against Ireland in 1929.
It was 1922 when Sunderland broke the transfer record to add Cresswell to their ranks. Initially, Burnley had made an offer of £6,000, which caused disagreements at the club. Cresswell was suspended by his employers but Sunderland soon came in to resolve the issue.
Due to most big fees at the time being laid out for forwards, it was a testament to his ability that Sunderland parted with such a fee for a defender. His first two seasons with the “Black Cats” saw them battle for the title but fall short on both occasions, finishing second and third. Further finishes of seventh, third and third again saw to it that Cresswell would leave Roker Park trophyless.
In 1927 Everton made him the second player to twice break the world transfer record, after Alf Common. A fee of £7,000 was an extraordinary sum for a player who was now 30 years of age. His first season with the “Toffees” saw them finish top of the league, but a finish of 18th the following season was a hint of things to come.
Relegation followed in 1930 after Everton finished bottom of the league, however they easily claimed the Second Division title to make an instant return to England’s top tier. In a remarkable turn of fortunes, Everton went on to win the title in their first season back.
Cresswell won the F.A. Cup with Everton in 1933 after defeating Manchester City 3-0 in front of a Wembley crowd of 93,000. He stayed with the Merseyside club for the next three seasons but they led to an average end to his career.
The end of his playing career saw him instantly enter management. He took over the reins of Third Division North side, Port Vale but after an up-and-down first season he left the club following an 11th place finish. He went on to manage Northampton Town and Dartford before retiring to run a pub.
Warneford Cresswell died back in his hometown of South Shields in October 1973, aged 75.
Karl Graham, Pundit Arena.