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Novel tells full story of forgotten Sheffield Blades legend

Sheffield United team picture, featuring Rabbi Howell - courtesy Sheffield Libraries.

Sheffield United team picture, featuring Rabbi Howell - courtesy Sheffield Libraries.

A campaign to rescue a forgotten Sheffield United hero from obscurity is to be launched on Saturday with the publication of a new novel based on his life story.

Rabbi Howell was a key player in the Blades’ championship winning side of 1897/8 – and was also the first Romany to play for England.

But two weeks before the end of the season he was mysteriously sacked, effectively ending his career at the age of 30.

Rabbi was eventually buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Preston – and author Steven Kay hopes his book will lead to a headstone being erected in his memory.

Steven’s book The Evergreen in Red and White will be launched in Annie’s Bar at the Copthorne Sheffield hotel on Bramall Lane.

Guest of honour will be Rab’s great grandson Nicholas Pomfret, who is deputy mayor of Preston.

Steven said Blades’ folklore hinted that Rabbi had been fired for match fixing, but that made no sense.

“Why would such a loyal servant do that, just as he was about to achieve glory?

“My research has led to this book on Rab’s last turbulent year in Sheffield.”

The book tells how Rabbi, who also played for Liverpool and Preston North End, abandoned his family including a newborn baby after an affair with another woman – a great scandal in Victorian society.

Steven added: “This is the story of a man torn between two women and the decisions he had to make which changed everyone’s lives around him forever.”

 

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