Fred Pentland

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Fred Pentland
Personal information
Full name Frederick Beaconsfield Pentland
Date of birth (1883-07-29)29 July 1883
Place of birth Wolverhampton, England
Date of death 16 March 1962(1962-03-16) (aged 78)
Place of death Poole, England
Playing position Forward
Youth career
189x Avondale Juniors
189x–1900 Willenhall Swifts
1900–1903 Small Heath
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1903 Blackpool 8 (5)
1903–1906 Blackburn Rovers 51 (9)
1906–1907 Brentford 36 (12)
1907–1908 Queens Park Rangers 37 (14)
1908–1912 Middlesbrough 92 (11)
1912 Halifax Town
1913 Stoke 12 (6)
Total 200+ (45+)
National team
1909 England 5 (0)
Teams managed
1914 Germany (Olympic team)
1920 France
1920–1921 Racing de Santander
1922–1925 Athletic Bilbao
1925–1926 Atlético Madrid
1926–1927 Real Oviedo
1927–1929 Atlético Madrid
1929–1933 Athletic Bilbao
1934–1935 Atlético Madrid
1938–1940 Barrow

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Frederick Beaconsfield "Fred" Pentland (29 July 1883 – 16 March 1962) was an English footballer and manager. He played as a forward for, among others, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Middlesbrough and England. However he is best remembered for his career as a manager in Spain where he coached several clubs including Athletic Bilbao and Athletic Madrid. He also had brief spells as coach of Germany, France and Spain. During the First World War he was interned at Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp on the outskirts of Berlin in Germany.

Pentland earned the nickname El Bombín, due to his bowler hat, while at Athletic Bilbao. He is still the club's most successful manager to date, winning two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey on five occasions. He returned to England before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and briefly worked as an assistant manager at Brentford and then as manager of Barrow A.F.C.. In 1959 Athletic invited Pentland back to Spain for a testimonial game against Chelsea and awarded him a Distinguished Members medal. When he died in 1962, Athletic held a memorial service in his honour at San Mamés. He was buried at St Mary's Church Lytchett Matravers in Dorset.

Playing career

Before joining Blackpool in 1903, Pentland worked as a gun makers assistant and played for several junior clubs in the Birmingham area. After a brief spell with Blackpool he quickly transferred to Blackburn Rovers where he played until 1906. Among his fellow players at Blackburn was Samuel Wolstenholme. After a season at Brentford he joined Queens Park Rangers and helped them win the 1907-08 Southern Football League title. He subsequently played in the 1908 FA Charity Shield game against English League champions Manchester United. In 1908 he joined Middlesbrough where his team mates included Alf Common and Steve Bloomer. While at Middlesbrough, he also won five caps for England. Playing alongside Vivian Woodward, he helped England win the 1908-09 British Home Championship. In August 1912 he joined Midland League side Halifax Town but moved to Stoke City the following February. However, Pentland returned to Halifax in December 1913, a knee injury in a game at Heckmondwike in April 1914 bringing an end to his playing career.

Prisoner in Germany

After retiring as a player, Pentland went to Berlin in 1914 to take charge of the German Olympic football team. However within a few months, the First World War broke out and he was subsequently interned at Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp in the Spandau district of Berlin. The camp contained between 4,000 and 5,500 prisoners. Gradually a mini-society evolved and football became a popular activity. Cup and league competitions were organised and as many as 1,000 attended the bigger games. Pentland was prominent in organising and playing football within the camp. He was chairman of the Ruhleben Football Association and regularly contributed to football articles in the camp magazine.

Pentland was one of several former professional footballers at Ruhleben. Others included former club team mates and fellow England internationals, Samuel Wolstenholme and Steve Bloomer, veteran England international Fred Spiksley, a Scotland international, John Cameron, a German international Edwin Dutton, and John Brearley, once of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. On 2 May 1915 an England XI featuring Pentland, Wolstenholme, Brearley and Bloomer played a World XI captained by Cameron. Towards the end of the war an international triangular tournament called the Coupe de Allies, featuring a British XI, a French XI and a Belgium XI, was organised. Pentland remained in the camp until the end of the war and then returned to England. While recuperating in the West Country he met and later married his nurse, a war widow working as a VAD.

Olympic Games with France

In 1920 Pentland coached France at the Olympic Games. France received a bye to the quarter-final stages where they beat Italy 3–1. However, in the semi-finals they lost 4–1 to Czechoslovakia. The final stages of the tournament descended into farce and France missed out on the opportunity to win the silver medal. The host nation, Belgium won the gold medal by default after Czechoslovakia walked off in protest during the final, unhappy with the performance of the referee. As a result, they were disqualified and a second consolation tournament was organised to decide the silver and bronze medallists. However France and Pentland, presuming the competition was over, had already returned home and Spain eventually won the silver medal.

Manager in Spain

In 1920 Pentland joined Racing de Santander but after one season he was poached by Athletic Bilbao. He revolutionised the way Athletic played, favouring the short-passing game and in 1923 he led the club to victory in the Copa del Rey. However, in 1925 he left Athletic and went onto coach Athletic Madrid, leading them to the Copa final in 1926. He then left the Madrid club for one season and coached Real Oviedo. In 1927 he returned to Athletic Madrid and guided them to victory in the Campeonato del Centro. He was also manager at the Madrid side during the inaugural La Liga season. In May 1929 he helped coach Spain (under manager José María Mateos) when they beat England 4–3 at Athletic Madrid's Metropolitano Stadium.[1] As a result, Spain became the first non-British team to beat England.

In 1929 Pentland rejoined Athletic Bilbao. He subsequently led them to La Liga/Copa del Rey doubles in 1930 and 1931. He also guided the club as they won the Copa del Rey four times in a row between 1930 and 1933 and finished as La Liga runners-up in 1932 and 1933. Pentland's Athletic were notable for their prolific goalscorers including Bata and Guillermo Gorostiza. In 1931 he also masterminded Athletic's 12–1 victory over FC Barcelona, the latter's worst ever defeat. In 1933 he joined Athletic Madrid for a third time but returned to England at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.



Athletic Bilbao

  • La Liga: 2
    • 1929–30, 1930–31
  • Copa del Rey: 5
  • Campeonato de Vizcaya: 5
    • 1923–24, 1924–25, 1930–31, 1931–32, 1932–33

Atlético Madrid


Queens Park Rangers



  1. "Spain 4 England 3 (match summary)". 15 May 1929. Retrieved 24 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (2003), Phil Ball.

External links