First American Football 
to be played in Great Britain


Written by Harold (Diz) Kronenberg

It is interesting to note that the first American football to be played in the United States, at soccer rules, was played at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Only the soccer rules were known at that time.

According to Menke in The Encyclopedia of Sports, American football exists today because McGill University of Montreal, Canada agreed to play Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1875. Since McGill played their version of football with the rugby rules and Harvard used the soccer rules (where kicking and nothing else was allowed), the two teams graciously agreed to play half of the game with the rugby rules and the other half with the soccer rules. The Americans liked the rugby version so much that they abandoned some of the soccer rules and adopted many of the rugby rules for their own use.

One year later, in 1876, Yale met Harvard and many of the rugby rules were imposed, and thus, American football was born. Harvard defeated Yale in that first game 4 to 0 but the scoring was different at that time. After that first game, Yale and Harvard became missionaries for standardizing of the rules for the ever-increasing popular game of football.

As we move fast forward to November 14, 1942 we find that today's version of American football was introduced to the British when American GI's stationed in England played the first American football game at Ravenhill in the town of Belfast, Ireland. The written program included a detailed explanation of the American rules. An estimated 10,000 Britishers saw the game, in which three men from Eau Claire participated. The game was advertised as the Hales vs. the Yarvards. All three men, Arnie Carpenter, a fullback; Homer Cooke, a center; and Robert (Bob) Pritchard, a substitute played for the Hales team. The Yarvard team won the game 9 to 7 with Carpenter scoring the touchdown for the Hales.

Cooke and Carpenter played football at the local college before enlisting in the Army. After the war, in 1946, Carpenter played briefly for the Wisconsin Badgers.

The following program tells the rest of the story.


The program for the first American football game played in Great Britain





American Football to Benefit British Red Cross & St. John's Fund in Cardiff



American Football to Benefit British Red Cross & St. John's Fund in Bristol