Caretaker Thomas Appleby was in charge of Friars Green, part of Newcastle’s old Blackfriars Monastery, and as such he was entitled to stop football being played on the green.

But in soccer mad Newcastle interfering with football games was a tricky business. And shortly before midnight on FEBRUARY 8th, 1930, Appleby was involved in a row with Rose Ellwood, 50, and her son John, 20, who was a keen footballer. A crowd gathered, and in the melee which followed Appleby was stabbed to death.

The prosecution at Newcastle Assizes claimed that John Ellwood had rushed up to Appleby, saying, “I’ll give you something for hitting my mother.” Blows were exchanged, and John Ellwood was seen to strike Appleby on the chest. It was alleged that Mrs. Ellwood also attacked Appleby, who collapsed after a time.

Giving evidence, Appleby’s widow agreed that her husband had been rather unpopular with certain people, adding, “it was all through the football which he stopped on the green.” The jury found Mrs. Ellwood not guilty, and John Ellwood guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to five years.