THERE'S Bloomer, "the prodigious Bloomer...always most pertinacious in his efforts", "sailing away for a certain score".

But the referee whistles. He's brought the game to a halt. Steve Bloomer, the most prolific striker of his generation playing what may turn out to be the last international of his career here in the North-East where he plies his trade, stops in his tracks. Offside.

How can that be? Bloomer cannot believe it. He silently points out "the geographical position of the men in front of him", but receives only a stern lecture from the arbiter.

Bloomer - or "Paleface" as he is known to his Middlesbrough team-mates due to his unhealthy pallor - takes the ticking-off well. Nary a hint of dissent on his face, but on the inside at least one reporter knows what he's thinking.

Because the score is 1-1. It is the second-half of the 1907 Home International at St James' Park in Newcastle. England playing Scotland.

Scotland have taken a second minute lead when the English captain, Robert Crompton, slices the ball into his own net "to his mortification".

Just before half-time, Bloomer equalises. "The great Stephen met the ball and swung it into the net with a fine, agile movement," reported The Northern Echo.

Now, deep into the second-half, Bloomer breaks once more and seems certain to score against the Scottish team only for the referee to controversially stop the move. The referee, Tom Robertson, is Scottish.

"I have no doubt it caused Bloomer to think things," wrote The Northern Echo's reporter. "In fact I know it did."

What things Bloomer was caused to think have been lost down the passage of time. We can but guess, especially as Bloomer didn't get another chance. The game ended 1-1.

"This was Bloomer's 23rd international match and it was distinguished by his 28th goal," said the Echo. "What a record! Mr Clegg, after the dinner, paid a fitting tribute to the 'evergreen' in assuring him he had never scored a finer goal for England than he had done that day."

It proved to be his last goal, for, aged 32, he never played for England again. So the dodgy Scottish ref left him on 28 goals. He is currently the eighth highest scorer for England - although on Wednesday night, Michael Owen pulled alongside him with his goal against Azerbaijan. It has taken Owen 65 matches to do what Bloomer did in just 23.

When his international career ended, Bloomer was playing for Boro for whom he had signed in 1906 for £750 from Derby. He played alongside Alf Common, whom Boro had made the first £1,000 player when signing him from Sunderland a year earlier.

Common's signing had excited questions in the House of Commons as Boro were accused of unsportingly buying their way out of relegation. Bloomer's signing urged the Football Association to investigate Boro's books as it was alleged they were colluding with other clubs to have Bury relegated.

Club chairman Lieutenant-Colonel T Gibson-Poole was fined £50 for keeping the books so badly, and Bloomer himself was banned for two games for accepting an illegal £10 signing-on fee.

Bloomer left Middlesbrough in 1910 having scored 62 goals in 130 games and returned to his native Derby, where he finished his career with a record of 332 goals in 525 games.

He retired in 1914 and got a job coaching in Berlin - not a wise career move as when war broke out he was imprisoned for four years.

He died in 1938 and is regarded as football's first true superstar.