Book launched about first Romany to play for England

Rabbi Howell's Sheffield Utd team.
Photo - Sheffield Libraries

Rabbi Howell's Sheffield Utd team. Photo - Sheffield Libraries

North End Player Rabbi Howell was the first Romany to play for England - more than 100 years ago.

The great grandfather of Preston’s deputy mayor, Rabbi was a coal miner in Sheffield before his call up, and later moved to Preston amid a scandal of adultery.

Now a novel, based on his remarkable life, is due to be launched near the stadium where he first played.

“You couldn’t really make it up”, said Rabbi’s great grandson, Coun Nicholas Pomfret.

He was approached by author Steven Kay about four years ago, who was researching the footballer’s life after reading about him in the Lancashire Evening Post.

He said: “It’s an amazing story - the more you look into it the more you uncover.”

The Evergreen in Red and White is due to be launched tomorrow, at a bar on Brammall Lane where Rabbi played for Sheffield United, before he moved to Liverpool FC and later Preston North End from the end of the 1900-01 season.

Rabbi raised a family in Paradise Street, where he lived in Preston, and ran a greengrocers.

Coun Pomfret, who is due to become mayor later this year, said he discovered his great grandfather’s unmarked grave last year.

He said: “Several generations of the family have been and gone without us really knowing where he was buried, other than in the Old Cemetery.”

Steven Kay now hopes to encourage his former clubs to contribute towards a headstone.

He said he began his research his story after hearing about a footballer who lived in a caravan.

He said: “He was quite a remarkable person, and a bit of a rebel as well.”

For all the latest news you can also follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page or subscribe to the newspaper or Tablet apps here.




Back to the top of the page