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 First episode taken from The Wizard issue 1292 November 18th 1950.

Jeepers! A footballer with his own dressing-room, creases in his shorts, a valet to attend him!

Ah, but this is no ordinary footballer, boys! This is Gorgeous Gus.


Sam Hopkins, the manager of Redburn Rovers sat in his office and chewed at the end of his pencil. He was a very worried man, for the Rovers had started off the season badly. This was Wednesday, and Sam was racking his brains for a means of strengthening the team for the home match on the coming Saturday.

He looked up irritably when a polite tap sounded on his door. “Come in,” he snapped. The moment the door opened, Sam Hopkins jerked himself upright and stared with bulging eyes. The man who entered the office walked with studied dignity. He was clad in a black, frock-tailed coat, and dark, striped trousers. Before him he held a silver salver and on this reposed a solitary visiting card. Sam Hopkins was reminded of the many butlers he had seen upon the screen. “Mr Hopkins I presume,” the visitor stated, making a stiff little bow. “My card.” Still looking dazed, the football manager picked up the visiting card and saw it was inscribed ‘D. Jenkins.’ That was all. Mr Hopkins shook his head then. “I’m sorry, Mr Jenkins,” he snapped, but I’m not interested in charities or anything like that. I’m a very busy man, and—” The visitor bowed again. “I fear you must let your business wait for a moment,” he said. “I am here by my Master’s orders.” Mr Hopkins was big and burly, and he was notorious for his quick temper. His face began to grow red, but before he could get out a word, the visitor was speaking again. “My Master was present at the Rovers’ last match,” he said. “I have to report he was greatly displeased with what he saw. In fact he was so displeased that he has decided that changes must immediately be made in the team.” That was too much for Sam Hopkins. “I don’t know your Master,” he said, his fists clenched in anger, “and I never want to know him. Tell him from me he can mind his own business! I’m the man who decides what changes are to be made!” Again the visitor interrupted him. “You are under a slight misapprehension,” he said. “Perhaps you’ll understand better if I explain that my Master has purchased the controlling interest in this club.” Sam Hopkins’ mouth dropped open in astonishment. “Tell me more,” he gulped. The other bowed again. “My Master has sent me here to explain,” he said in the same quiet, unruffled voice. “To start with, my Master considered that the Rovers were very weak in goal. He has therefore arranged for the transfer to the Rovers of Joe Prout.” Sam Hopkins placed his elbows upon his desk and leaned forward. “You wouldn’t be talking of Joe Prout of Weston North End?” he demanded with heavy sarcasm. “The same man,” was the reply. “He’s now a member of this team.” Sam Hopkins’ eyes grew wider still. “But—but the North End wouldn’t have transferred Joe Prout for a penny under twenty thousand pounds,” he said. The visitor shrugged. “The transfer has been made,” he said. “In addition to the goalkeeper, my Master also took exception to the play of both backs. He has decided that both last Saturday’s players will drop out, and their places will be taken by Sandy Duncan and Bill Power.” Sam Hopkins seemed to be fighting for breath. “Break it to me gently,” he said. “Are you talking about Sandy Duncan of the Rangers, and Bill Power of the Ironsides? Why, they’d cost even more than Joe Prout.” “Their transfers have been completed,” the visitor said, and his voice was still quiet and completely unemotional. “My Master further decided that the centre-half was weak, and that his place must be taken by Leslie Crump, of Woolford Athletic.” Sam Hopkins gulped. “I—I take it that this Master of yours was satisfied with the forward line,” he gasped. “Far from it,” was the reply. “The forwards displeased my Master more than any other section of the team. He has therefore completed the following transfers. Dai Morgan, of Abercorn City, will play on the right wing, and Stanley Martinson, of Redpool United, will play inside to him. In addition, the inside-left position will be taken by Tom Fingley, of Westport Wanderers.” Sam Hopkins gaped, and he went on gaping. “That – that leaves Martin, Dodds, Brown, and Webb of the old team,” he said at last. “According to you, the Rovers now have an all-star eleven.” With a quick gesture he snatched up a sheet of paper and went to work on it with his pencil. “Wait a minute,” he said. He began to jot down, and then added up, a long list of figures. “I’ve just worked it out,” he said at the end. “According to my calculations, this Master of yours must have spent over two hundred thousand pounds in transfer fees.” Sam Hopkins laughed then, and a very ugly laugh it was. Slowly and deliberately he came to his feet. “I pride myself on a sense of humour,” he said furiously, “but I don’t like being made to seem a fool! I’ve heard of your kind before. I reckon you’ve got a bee in your bonnet, and all this talk of transfers is just so much nonsense.” In his haste to get to grips with Mr Jenkins he vaulted over his desk. “I’m a busy man,” he shouted. “I’m going to teach you not to come here and waste my time!” Sam Hopkins considered he had an easy task on his hands in bouncing his strange visitor out of the room. He made a grab at him, but Mr Jenkins moved slightly, and, to his own utter amazement, the angry manager went staggering across the room. His visitor still stood unperturbed, and again he spoke in the same quiet and unemotional tone. “I see that it is ten o’clock,” he said, “the hour when the players should be arriving for their morning’s training. I suggest, Mr Hopkins, that, before you lose your temper again, you take a look out of the window.” Sam Hopkins looked at him, hesitated and then reluctantly he went to the window. Three young men were crossing the playing pitch and all of them carried suitcases. Sam Hopkins had spent a lifetime in football and there was scarcely a professional footballer he did not know by sight. “It’s Joe Prout, Stanley Martinson and Tom Fingley!” Sam Hopkins gasped. “I see that others are also arriving,” the visitor said. Another four young men came through the players’ gate and they too were carrying suitcases. Mr Hopkins looked at them and this time he rubbed his eyes. “It’s Leslie Crump,” he gasped. “Dai Morgan, Bill Power, and Sandy Duncan, too.” Wonderingly, he turned to gaze at the visitor. “Then – then it is true,” he bleated. “All these players have been signed on for the Rovers!” “It’s only a beginning,” the visitor said, and he picked up his silver slaver from the desk. “I’ve one further item of news for you. My Master has decided that a slight addition must be made to the grandstand, and workmen will commence work upon it this morning. That is all, Mr Hopkins. Good Morning.” With the silver salver under his arm, Sam Hopkins’ strange visitor walked out of the office with dignity. “The Master!” Sam Hopkins gasped to himself. “Who on earth is the Master?” He kept asking himself the same question over and over again.


The news broke in Redburn that afternoon, and the evening papers were full of it. All other news was swept off the front pages. Everywhere great head-lines spoke of “Sensational Transfers.” Interest in the local team had been waning, but now everybody became excited about the Rovers.

But there was one item of news the newspapers could not furnish, and goodness knows, they tried hard enough. Nobody knew the name of the unknown man who had spent so much money on the team. Sam Hopkins still thought he was living a dream when he turned up at the ground on the Thursday morning. An annexe was being built on to the stand, and already it was beginning to take shape. This was due to the fact that the workmen had worked all through the night by the glare of floodlights. That morning the new players were again present for their training, but they had no information to offer. The transfers had been made without their coming into contact with the new owner of the Rovers. Sam Hopkins positively jumped when a respectful tap sounded upon his office door. When the figure of Jenkins, complete with silver salver, appeared, Sam rose to his feet and eyed his visitor. In his usual, dignified way, Jenkins approached the desk and again he bowed stiffly. “Good morning, Mr Hopkins,” he said. With another bow, the visitor proffered the silver salver, and Sam saw that a neatly-typed sheet of paper was lying upon it. “The compliments of my Master,” the visitor said. “I have been instructed to bring you the names of those men selected to play against Wolverton on Saturday.” Sam Hopkins picked up the list and saw at once that there was one omission. All the new players were, of course, down to play, but there was a blank where the name of the centre-forward should have appeared. “Isn’t the – the Master playing Brown at centre-forward?” Sam wanted to know. The other shook his head. “Brown does not come up to the standard required by my Master,” he said. “The name of the centre-forward will be added to the list later.” Giving another stiff bow, he tucked the salver under his arm, and with dignified tread he went away. When the list was posted, everybody crowded round it. And everybody came to the same conclusion as the manager. The name of the centre-forward, they thought, had been left blank because another sensational transfer was expected. By the Friday the whole town was seething with excitement. So much so that by noon a dozen or more enthusiasts had started to queue outside the main gates. They intended to camp there all night for the game next day. By nightfall the queue stretched halfway round the ground. On the Saturday morning the gates were opened two hours before the usual time, and at two o’clock—with still an hour to go before kick-off—they were closed because the ground was completely filled. And still the streets were black with men and boys hurrying towards the ground. These unfortunates massed themselves in the great square outside the main gates. There was no uproar among them, however, for a voice made itself heard over a series of loud-speakers that had been erected during that night. “Don’t go away,” it said. “We regret that so many spectators must be locked out. However, a running commentary will be made so that you can follow every move of the game.” Never before had there been scenes like this at the Rovers’ ground. And inside the ground the fortunate spectators were staring at the addition to the stand. It had been painted white and gold, and in the centre of it was a door facing the touchline. All kinds of guesses were made as to why the addition should have been built. And still the spectators wondered who the Rovers’ centre-forward was going to be. They were not the only ones who wondered. Sam Hopkins was wondering, and so were the rest of the players. For the Master’s butler had not appeared again, and no announcement of a new transfer had been made. With only a few minutes to go before it was time for the Rovers to take the field, Sam Hopkins looked at Brown, the former centre-forward. “You’d better get changed, Brown,” he ordered. “It’s obvious that this latest transfer hasn’t come through.” That was the moment when the Master’s butler appeared. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but there’s no need for Brown to change. The centre-forward position will be filled.” Everybody stared at him. “Who’s the new player?” Sam Hopkins demanded. “Why isn’t he here?” “All in good time,” said the butler. “I’m ordered to assure you that the Rovers will field a full team. You’ll therefore take the field at the stated time.” Sam Hopkins dropped down on a bench. “It beats me!” he gasped. “The whole set-up beats me. I wonder why this Master of his is keeping the centre-forward’s name such a secret?” The players could only shake their heads. With a few minutes to go, the referee stuck his head into the dressing-room. “Time you were on the field,” he said. Sam Hopkins shrugged helplessly. “This is the first time that ten men have left this dressing-room for the start of a match,” he said. There was a tremendous roar from outside, signifying that Wolverton had already appeared. When the Rovers ran out of the alleyway underneath the stand the applause was terrific. And then somebody spotted that the Rovers had only ten men. “They still haven’t got a centre-forward!” somebody shouted. The referee began to look anxiously at his watch. And then from the other side of the ground came a mighty shout. “Look! Somebody’s coming out of the Royal Pavilion.” The white and gold annexe had already been named the “Royal Pavilion.” The door of the annexe had indeed opened, and it was Jenkins, the butler, who appeared. Once again he was carrying a silver salver. On it was standing a small bottle and a syringe. In his slow, dignified manner, he paced to the touchline, and here he half-turned. There was a hush over the packed ground that could now be felt. As though by instinct all attention had switched from the butler to the open door of the annexe. And then another figure appeared in the opening. It was a tall figure, clad in a very long and very gorgeous-looking dressing-gown. And this figure moved with even greater dignity than the butler. Every eye was focused upon him. He was tall, and his face was strikingly handsome. Moreover, his hair was so blond that it seemed to glow under the rays of the winter sun. The hush still held as the robed figure reached the waiting butler. Jenkins stepped in front of him, and as he did so, the Master opened his mouth wide. Jenkins used the syringe then in order to spray the Master’s mouth and throat. With dignity, the Master divested himself of his dressing-gown, and taking it from him, Jenkins folded it carefully over his arm. And now the hush was shattered by a tremendous gasp. For the Master stood clad in a football shirt of the Rovers’ colours, and shorts. Those of the crowd who were near enough declared that both shirt and shorts were made of heavy silk. Very carefully the butler arranged the hang of the shirt over the shoulders, and he ran his fingers along the well-marked crease in the shorts. That was the moment when two boys, carrying large notice boards, started to circle the ground. The spectators looked at the words written on the boards, and they could only gasp. This is what they read—

‘The Rovers’ centre-forward position will be taken to-day by the Earl of Boote, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C.



Standing in the alleyway, Sam Hopkins swallowed hard. “The – the Master himself!” he gasped. “He – he’s the new centre-forward!”

The referee and players were staring just as much as the spectators. In fact, the referee had completely forgotten the passage of time. He stood staring as if thunderstruck as the tall, stately figure came slowly across the field to him. “Good afternoon, my man,” the Master greeted him. “I understand that before a football game can be commenced, a coin must be spun. I have here my lucky five guinea gold piece. With your permission, my man?” The referee gulped. “Of – of course,” he said. It was indeed a heavy gold coin that the official took from the Master and spun in the air. The Master called correctly. “We’ll play against the wind for the first half,” he said. The teams lined up, and Wolverton kicked off. Instantly the Rovers jumped into action, with the solitary exception of the Master. He just stood where he was! Wolverton made a quick raid, but it came to nothing against the great play of Bill Power and Sandy Duncan. Sandy cleared the ball to Leslie Crump at centre-half, and Leslie sent the ball a little ahead of his centre-forward. It was a wonderful chance for the Master. The Wolverton defence had followed up its forwards too closely, so that the Master had a clear field ahead of him. The crowd expected him to chase after the ball, snap it up, and go dribbling forward. “Now’s your chance, Gorgeous Gus!” somebody yelled. The Master did not run. He walked after the ball in dignified fashion. An opposing back beat him to it by yards, and once again Wolverton were attacking. And then the crowd began to yell. “Get off the field!” “This is a football match, not a picnic!” “Put a jerk into it, Gorgeous Gus.” But the Master had not turned a hair. Having lost the ball, he strolled upfield to the Wolverton goal area. Again a Wolverton attack was broken up, and Dai Morgan, on the right wing, put in one of his flashing runs. Over came a perfect cross, and again the Master had a chance. Had he been running, he might easily have swept the ball into the net. Instead, he simply strolled towards it, with the result that the Wolverton left-back cleared with ease. Not only did the crowd inside the gates hoot, but the crowd outside the gates also hooted for the commentator had described what had happened in exact detail. “Get rid of him!” was the wail. “Take him off.” That was the moment when the Master walked up to the referee. A moment before the ball had been kicked into touch. “Pardon me, my man,” the Master said. “But I believe I have to ask permission to leave the field. Instantly there was a great burst of ironical cheering. “He’s going off! He’s had enough!” The moment the Master turned towards the touchline the door of the Royal Pavilion opened, and a small procession started out. First of all came Jenkins the butler. He was followed by a servant pushing a wheeled cabinet. This servant was followed in turn by a man carrying a huge fan, and after him came a man carrying a chair upholstered in purple. Straightaway the spectators forgot all about the game as they stared at this amazing scene. The chair was put down just outside the touchline, and slowly the Master lowered himself into it. Instantly Jenkins draped the dressing-gown over his shoulders, and the man with the fan began to sweep it backwards and forwards before the Master’s face. Opening the cabinet then, Jenkins took out a jug of water and a tumbler. Filling the tumbler with water he placed it upon the salver and offered it to the Master. The latter held it up to the sun, and then slowly he drank it. The man who had carried the chair now went down on his knees and began to massage the Master’s legs. “What’s that for?” was the yell. “He hasn’t moved yet.” Suddenly attention was switched to the field of play. Wolverton were attacking. They forced two corners in quick succession, and then their centre-forward drove in a shot that gave Joe Prout no chance. It seemed that the Rovers, despite their star-studded team, were in danger of defeat. For ten minutes the Master continued to recline at his ease. “I am rested now,” he said, and he stood with the dressing-gown draped over his shoulders. Patiently he waited until the ball again went into touch and then he motioned for the dressing-gown to be taken away. Jenkins took it from his shoulders, folded it carefully over his arm, and to hoots of derision, the Master walked back on to the field. “I crave permission to return,” he said to the referee. The Master walked to the centre of the field and the play continued. A quarter of an hour went by, and he scarcely moved a yard, except to keep himself onside. The play rushed by him, and many times the ball came within easy reach. Never once did he make any attempt to go after it. Only once did he quicken his stately footsteps a little, and that was when a harassed Wolverton back brought down Martinson with a foul tackle. It was a tackle that the referee had failed to see. But the Master had seen it, and he walked up to the offending player. “My man,” he said, “fair play is a jewel.” The player in question was notorious for his surly manners, but it seemed there was something extraordinary about the Master, for the full-back coloured to the roots of his hair. “I—I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “Granted,” said the Master. In the next Rovers’ attack the ball passed from man to man and if an ordinary, mediocre centre-forward had been playing, a goal would have been a certainty. As it was, Fingley tried a shot and the goalkeeper tipped the ball over the crossbar. Dai Morgan took the corner kick and he sent in a perfect one. It dropped right in front of the goal and rolled to the Master’s feet. The Master took two steps forward and his boot swung. Woosh! The sound of the boot meeting ball was heard outside the ground. The ball travelled so fast that thousands of spectators declared afterwards that they never even saw it in flight. Straight to the goalkeeper it went and he crouched to take the impact. “Ah-h-h-h-h-h-h!” There was another thud as the speeding ball made contact with the goalkeeper and then the goalkeeper was off his feet and travelling with the ball. Slap into the centre of the back of the net he was carried and then there was the sound of rending cord. The amazed spectators gazed in stupefaction at the gaping hole in the back of the net, and at the goalkeeper lying on his back three yards beyond it.


There was still a hushed silence as the two teams lined up for the restart. The ball was kicked off and dribbled a few yards and then the whistle shrilled for half-time. Immediately the door of the Royal Pavilion opened and Jenkins, the butler, appeared.

This time Jenkins broke into a run, and the strange thing was that he still managed to maintain his dignity. He was carrying the Master’s dressing-gown. Reaching him, he draped the dressing-gown over the Master’s shoulders, and so clad, the Master began to walk from the field. And still no sound came from the massed spectators. In silence they watched the dignified, blond figure pass through the door of the Royal pavilion. But the moment it closed behind the Master and his butler, everybody on the ground seemed to give tongue at one and the same time. And everybody spoke about the same thing – that terrific shot which had put the ball and goalkeeper right through the back of the net. Surely such a kick had never been seen upon a football field before. A horde of photographers were all taking snaps of the broken net before the ground staff started to patch it up. After the half-time interval the players came back to the field, but nobody took much notice of them. All eyes were focussed upon the door of the Royal Pavilion. It swung open, and Jenkins appeared, carrying his silver salver as always. The dressing-gowned figure of the Master followed behind him, and on the touchline the Master’s throat was syringed. Carefully Jenkins adjusted the hang of his shirt and shorts, and then sedately the Master walked forward to take up his position and kick-off. And then the crowd yelled. “Good old Gorgeous Gus! Let’s see you score another goal.” The Master kicked off in the orthodox way, and the Rovers’ forward line got moving. Then one of the backs intercepted a pass, and Wolverton took up the attack. For a full twenty minutes they kept the Rovers penned in their half, but try as they would, they could not score. At the end of twenty minutes Wolverton had shot their bolt, and the Rovers started to take command. Down the field swept the forward line, and the ball came to Stanley Martinson. He just trickled the ball forward so that it rolled along about a yard in front of the Rovers’ centre-forward. All in a flash the ground was silent. The Master took a casual step forward and his boot swung. Woosh! Once again the sound of boot meeting ball was heard outside the ground. Straight for the goalkeeper the ball flashed, but this time the goalkeeper did not wait. As far as he was concerned, once was more than enough. With a scared yelp, he dived forward right underneath the ball, and it sped right through the patched part of the net to clear the heads of the crowd and drop far beyond the ground. The Master had scored his second goal. That was when the spectators went wild. They shouted and stamped, and they cheered Gorgeous Gus to the echo. But the Master had turned to the referee. “Once again I crave your permission to retire,” he said in a sedate way. “I feel that my presence is now no longer necessary upon the field.” The referee could only gulp, and the Master took that for assent. When he reached the touchline, Jenkins was waiting there with his dressing-gown. The Master passed into the Royal Pavilion and he was seen no more that afternoon. The game continued, and the Rovers, hanging on to their lead, were the winners by two goals to one. As the excited crowd slowly filed out of the ground, one name was on every lip—the name of Gorgeous Gus, otherwise the Earl of Boote, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C.


GORGEOUS GUS – 10 Episodes The Wizard issues 1292 November 18th 1950 – 1301 January 20th 1951.

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2006