The School’s First England International

b o corbett 1

Captain Bertie Oswald Corbett, (Royal Artillery, taken some time during the Great War.)

Bertie Corbett attended the School during the late 1880s, leaving in 1894 when the infamous Plummer was still headmaster. Bertie went on to become one of the era’s leading amateur footballers – and an international player to boot.

Bertie Oswald Corbett was born in Thame on 15 May 1875, son of the Vicar of Thame, Elijah Baggott Corbett (1837-1893) and his wife Mary Anne nee Davies. (He was one of 8 children.) He was educated at the School before attending Oriel College, Oxford. Subsequently, he became a teacher: was a schoolmaster at Brighton College before being appointed headmaster of a school in Dorset and then moving to Derby. The 1911 Census shows him running – along with two sisters – a private prep school in Derby. During the Great Wall, he was a Captain in the Royal Artillery but currently nothing is known of his war record. After the War, B.O. Corbett and his brother C. John Corbett both ran schools in Derbyshire: Bertie had a school at Shardlow Hall, while younger brother John (1883-1944) was headmaster of Rycote on the Kedlestone Road, Derby, and later The Ashe at Etwall.

Bertie Corbett married Ella Stagg in Essex in 1912. He died at Waddon Manor, Portesham, Dorset on 30 November 1967 and was buried in Waddon Church on 4th December.  (We know from The Tamensian that he’d moved to Dorset by 1939.)

In 1897, he won a Blue for football at Oxford when they beat Cambridge 1-0. Corbett’s play was described as being ‘very good.’  He then played for the Corinthians Football Club (London) until 1906, where he was known as an ‘extremely fast dribbler … on the outside left.’ It is also thought he played for Reading and Slough, as well as in several North vs. South games where he always acquitted himself well.

In the December 1900 edition of The Tamensians we read: ‘B.O. Corbett played a fine game for the Corinthians on November 17th, in their match with Southampton. The professionals were defeated three goals to one.’

His skills reached international standard. On March 18, 1901, he played a full ‘A’ international, England vs. Wales which England won 6-0 due to four goals from the famous Steve Bloomer. In the Guardian match report, Corbett was said to ‘be most conspicuous.’ He contributed towards the first goal: ‘the first score came after thirty-eight minutes; Corbett raced up the wing, and centred finely to Bloomer who snapped the ball past Roose just under the crossbar.’ Bloomers sixth and final goal also came from a pass from Corbett.

When he played for the Corinthians these were the days when the famous amateur side could beat professional teams. In 1899 he played against Aston Villa in the Sheriff of London Charity Shield, and the Corinthians’ won 2-1. In the Guardian’s match report, it notes: ‘G O Smith raced from midfield and when tackled passed to Corbett on the outside right who, after a smart run, sent the ball right across to Foster who beat George with a very swift shot.’

Corbett played in the game against Bury which the Corinthians won to take the Sheriff of London Charity Shield. The team which Bury put into the field that day contained nine of the eleven players which had beaten DerbyCounty in the 1903 FA Cup final by 6-0, but Bury lost to the Corinthians 10-3.

By 1906, Corbett was being described as a ‘veteran.’ Two of his final games were against Tottenham Hotspur: the Corinthians won the first 6-1 but lost the second, 5-0. Also in 1906, he edited ‘The Annals of the Corinthian Football Club’ published by Longmans, Green & Co.


From WikipediaCorinthians Football Club was a football team based in London playing at various venues including Crystal Palace and Queen’s Club. They were founded in 1882 by N. Lane Jackson, assistant secretary of the Football Association, with the intention of developing a squad capable of challenging the supremacy of the Scotland football team and Queen’s Park.

The team originally determined to play only friendly matches and often played other amateur clubs, especially teams in the London area. They also supplied large numbers of players to the England football team. During the 1880s, the majority of England caps against Scotland were awarded to Corinthians, and for two England matches against Wales in 1894 and 1895, the entire team was from the club. However, these records are not recognised by the FA, who point out that most Corinthians players had another primary club affiliation – in many cases one of the university sides.

Corinthians refused to join The Football League or to compete in the FA Cup due to one of their original rules forbidding the club to “compete for any challenge cup or prizes of any description.” but finally competed in a competition in 1900 when they beat Aston Villa, then League champions, in the Sheriff of London Shield. They might have won the FA Cup many times if they had competed – for instance, shortly after Blackburn Rovers beat QueensPark in the 1884 final, Corinthians beat Blackburn 8-1. Similarly, Corinthians had a 10-3 win over ten of the Bury side that beat DerbyCounty 6-0 in the 1903 final.

After joining the Amateur Football Association and being banned from playing the top home opposition, all of whom were members of The Football Association, the team increased its touring of the world, popularising football. Real Madrid adopted Corinthians’ white shirts and Sport Club Corinthians Paulista in Brazil adopted their name. After a visit to Sweden in 1904, a Swedish tournament called the Corinthian Bowl was set up to commemorate them.

In 1904, Corinthians beat Manchester United 11-3, which remains United’s biggest defeat. After World War I, the team began to compete in the FA Cup, but with limited success. They also played the 1927 Charity Shield, losing to CardiffCity 2-1.

In 1939, Corinthians amalgamated with the Casuals to form Corinthian-Casuals Football Club.



Bertie was also a right-handed batting cricketer, making a single appearance for the Derbyshire county side against Kent in 1910. He only scored one run during the match, being stumped for a duck in the second innings.

His older brother Leonard Baggott Corbett had attended the School and then Malvern College and All Souls, Oxford and became a cleric, while his younger brother Cornelius John Corbett (1883-1944) was an even more accomplished cricketer, batting and fielding for Derbyshire on 27 occasions between 1911 and 1924. In a 1900 Tamensian Magazine it is noted  ‘All Thame football enthusiasts will sincerely sympathise with A L Corbett in his accident of November 17th. He was playing for St Edmund’s Hall against St Catherine’s, and in some way he was damaged in a scrimmage. Upon the game being stopped it was ascertained that his collar-bone was broken.’ We also learn from The Tamensian: ‘Congratulations to A L Corbett on his Association Blue and his play for Oxford in the Varsity game at Queen’s Club on 3rd of March.’

An obituary appeared in a local Derby paper when Bertie died.


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