Nottingham heroes? Most of us think Robin Hood, Torvill and Dean, Paul Smith, Jake Bugg…even the inimitable Su Pollard may well appear on the list! But Herbert Kilpin?! Even the most knowledgeable Nottingham locals might not have heard of this ninth child of a butcher, born on Mansfield Road in 1870. Ask the local people of Milan, however, and it’s a whole different story.
Herbert Kilpin is widely regarded as the ‘father of Italian football’. Growing up in Nottingham at the end of the 19th Century, Herbert had a passion for football and he played for several Nottingham teams at the Forest Recreation Ground. When his work in the lace mills took him to Northern Italy, and later to Milan, it was here that he founded Milan Football Club, later to become the world-famous AC Milan.
On Saturday 22nd October, on the centenary of his death, Nottingham City Transport launched its official ‘Herbert Kilpin bus’ outside his childhood home, 191 Mansfield Road. This Yellow line number 68/69 bus was unveiled by the Sheriff of Nottingham and local football historian Andy Black at a special ceremony attended by other local dignitaries and Herbert’s great grandniece, Helen Stirland.
“Herbert Kilpin was a Nottingham man who made an exciting and valuable contribution to the world of football and he fully deserves to be recognised as one of the city’s heroes,” says NCT Marketing Manager, Anthony Carver-Smith. “We hope that our Herbert Kilpin bus will help bring just a little more recognition and fame to his distinctive name, intriguing our customers and passers-by to find out more about the important role he played in the history of football.”
Author Robert Nieri, who’s written a book about Herbert Kilpin, ‘The Lord of Milan’ adds, “Kilpin has been honoured in Milan in the city’s Hall of Fame where his name is on a big marble plaque. He deserves more recognition in Nottingham but things are picking up; we now have the Herbert Kilpin pub, and we’ve also now had the Herbert Kilpin Cup played by children from Nottinghamshire schools on the Forest Rec. Nottingham City Transport’s bus will add momentum to our campaign to highlight Herbert’s impressive achievements and we’d like to thank them for their support.”
The launch of the Italian version of ‘The Lord of Milan’ took place on Thursday at the AC Milan headquarters in front of the Italian press, and the English version will be launched at the Nottingham Conference Centre in the Kilpin Room next Wednesday 26th October.
Herbert Kilpin is the 21st Nottingham City Transport bus to be named and comes at the end of the week when Rio 2016 Gold medalists Helen Richardson-Walsh and Richard Whitehead had their buses unveiled. A dedicated NCT webpage – www.nctx.co.uk/busnames – gives more detail about all of the local heroes who are honoured by Nottingham City Transport.