It was an incident involving Sam Chedgzoy on 12 April 1924 which led to a quite remarkable and almost immediate change in the laws of football. Chedgzoy had been asked by Ernest ‘Bee’ Edwards, a local sports reporter, to carry out an experiment during an away game against Tottenham Hotspur. When Everton were awarded a first-half corner Chedgzoy placed the ball by the corner flag and waited for the attacking players to line up in anticipation for his cross.
The cross never came as Chedgzoy, to the amazement of his fellow players and fans, proceeded to dribble the ball inside before shooting into the net.
The referee’s first inclination was to penalise Chedgzoy’s audacity, but at half-time he was persuaded to consult his rule book which showed that he had been incorrect to disallow the goal: it was legal to score from a corner with no mention being made of the taker being restricted to one touch of the ball. The referee’s error led to the rule being swiftly amended by the Football Association.
That one incident by no means defined Chedgzoy’s name. He was an Everton player for some 15 years and won a League Championship medal in 1915. Although his career was restricted by the war Chedgzoy continued with some brilliance after most of the Championship side had either left or retired.
Born in Ellesmere Port in 1889, for a time he played as an amateur alongside Joe Mercer’s father for Burnell Ironworks, where he was spotted by Fred Geary, now working on the Goodison ground staff. He made his Everton debut in the 1910/11 season, although it took this quick, industrious outside right until the latter stages of the 1913/14 season to hold down a regular first-team place.
Many of Everton’s 1914/15 Championship winning side faded after the war, but Chedgzoy only seemed to improve with age. During the famous rule-changing encounter with Spurs, his friend ‘Bee’ reported: ‘Chedgzoy has never played better than on this occasion ... [scoring] a delightful oblique shot which struck the underside of the cross-bar and into the net ... He was here, there and everywhere, showing a command of the ball and accuracy of touch which was at times amazing.’
IN HIS later years at Goodison, Chedgzoy, now aged in his mid-thirties, nurtured a young Dixie Dean – the striker described his fellow Wirraler as ‘a great old china’ – also supplying many of the crosses for his early Everton goals.
FINALLY, in 1926, Chedgzoy left Everton, immigrating to North America, where he had spent the summer of 1924 coaching the Grenadier Guards team. He joined the New Bedford Whalers of the American Soccer League, making 164 appearances over four seasons. Chedgzoy then returned to Canada, where he had previously coached, joining Montreal Carsteel as player- coach. Here, he became something of a Canadian sports hero: Carsteel were one of the country’s best teams, and Chedgzoy continued playing for them well into his forties. Aged 50 he appeared in the 1939 National Soccer League Final, which Carsteel lost to Toronto British
Consuls, and the Canadian National Challenge Cup, in which Carsteel were defeated by the Vancouver Radials. Chedgzoy made eight appearances for England between 1920 and 1924, his last cap against Northern Ireland fittingly won at Goodison Park. His son Sid also joined Everton but never made the first team. Although Chedgzoy visited England regularly in his retirement, Canada became his adopted home and he remained there until his death in 1967.
In 1999 Chedgzoy was named one of Everton’s ‘Millennium Giants’ and more recently has been inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.