ALAN MULLERY, the Spurs footballing legend, is the answer to a great pub quiz question about who was the first England player to be sent off in a full international – he committed a foul against Yugoslavia in 1968 and received his marching orders.

But one of the many questions answered in the current local history exhibition in Darlington library is who was the first Darlington FC player to be dismissed.

The Northern Echo: Alan Mullery.England 1970.Alan Mullery: the first England player to be sent off

The first laws of football drawn up in 1863 expected the captains of the teams to enforce good play; then in 1874 an umpire was introduced. In 1881, the Football Association created the position of referee to arbitrate on disputes between umpires, and he was given the powers to caution a player for ungentlemanly conduct or send him off for violent conduct.

The exhibition tells us that the first Quaker to receive this dreadful sanction was H Matthews in the first round of the Cleveland Professional Cup played on January 9, 1892. That Saturday was incredibly cold – the other match played that day was between Middlesbrough Ironopolis and Darlington St Augustine’s at the Saints Chestnut Grove ground on Valley Street where the Echo said there was “fully 10 inches of snow” on the pitch.

The Quakers played South Bank on their Normanby Road Ground where there was only “several inches of snow” covering the pitch, enough to cause both teams to appeal to the referee to call the match off.

He played on, and with the game nearing its conclusion, the Bankers were 4-2 ahead, and Matthews was obviously getting riled as the referee had spoken to him on three occasions about his conduct.

The Echo match report says: “About five minutes before the call of time, Matthews, the visitors’ inside right, who had been several times guilty of foul play, was ordered off the field by the referee.”

Matthews was suspended for a week.

We believe this was actually Henry Moram Matthew, known as Harry, who was born in Dundee in 1870. Darlington was his first professional side, and he moved later in 1892 to Bolton Wanderers who played in the English Football League. He spent the bulk of his career with Millwall Athletic, who might have appreciated his boisterous play more than the genteel Quakers, although he also played for Preston North End and Watford before he retired back to Scotland in 1903.

Of course, neither Harry Matthew nor Alan Mullery were shown either a yellow or red card – the traffic light system was not introduced until the 1970 World Cup in Mexico to keep the crowd informed. Would VAR have vindicated Harry?

The exhibition, Kick Off, Darlington FC 1883-1893, runs until February 2.