Wallace, one of the 1905/6 stars, speaking at the team's 50th Jubilee in 1955, gave his version of how the name originated:
"Now I'm just going to mention how we got the name of All Blacks'. These coves don't know, I was on the Committee and I know all about it. We played Hartlepool and we beat them 63-0, and the 'Daily Mail; an English paper, wrote up 'New Zealand team all backs' you see. So we were, all our forwards could pass as good as any back, and it was headed up 'New Zealand All Backs'. And the next match we went on, I think it was Somerset. This All Black' was a printer's error and we went on to Somerset and all around the town it said 'Come and see the All Blacks play; the printer had made a mistake and instead of All Back' he had got the 'l' in somehow and made it All Black.
And that's how the name of All Blacks' originated and it's stuck ever since.
The 'Daily Mail' took it up and we went to Ireland and we were on our way to have a bit of a practice and they announced the route in the papers and everybody was at the gate to see the All Blacks' go past and they all thought we were a lot of, you know, blacks and when they saw us go past 'Bejasus, they are as white as ourselves, as white as ourselves'.
Just the name, when they changed to All Blacks' they did think we were dinkum, you know, darkies."
In "HAKA! THE ALL BLACKS STORY" Winston presented a different view. He wrote 'The 1905 team was the first to be dubbed All Blacks' There are two versions of how the name originated.
The first is that after one of the team's big victories a certain newspaper had intended to have as its headline ALL BACKS; intimating that the forwards were playing like backs; but a typographical error actually gave the headline as ALL BLACKS'.
The other, and the one to which I incline, is that the name originated with the London 'Daily Mail' Rugby writer, J A Buttery, who in a paper-back issued after the tour, 'Why the All Blacks Triumphed ; said that he began referring to the team as All Blacks because of the colour of their uniform. The only colour not black was the Silver Fern on the left breast and the white of their boot laces."
Note: McCarthy refers to "a certain newspaper' intending to run the "ALL BACKS" headline, then mentions the "Daily Mail" in the next paragraph. Did McCarthy know of a newspaper other than the "Daily Mail" being involved?
The Dictionary contains a long entry about "all black" including the comment "The theory that all blacks was derived from a printer's error for an orig. all backs used by Buttery In his account of the Hartlepool match is not supported by evidence.' The Dictionary explains that unsupported "all backs" theory thus: "After the match against Hartlepool Clubs on 11 October 1905... Buttery reported that the whole team, backs and forwards alike, had played with speed and precision as if they were 'all backs'. It then goes on to say "But when the New Zealand team arrived at Taunton to play Somerset County (21 October), they found the whole town placarded with posters welcoming the All Blacks'. Buttery inquired into the matter and reported to the team's management committee that the printer had inserted an 'l' in 'Backs'. The name appealed and henceforth the players were known as All Blacks" The above references to poster: are consistent with the comments Wallace made at the 1955 reunion. The Dictionary also refers to Buttery's reports of the Hartlepool and other games using "All Blacks".
One of the two tour books "WHY THE ALL BLACKS TRIUMPHED" does contain a report of the Hartlepool match, written by Buttery. In this he twice refers to "the All Blacks" but does not say anything about the team playing as if they were "all backs". He continued to call the team "All Blacks" in later match reports in the same book, and states in his introduction the reason for the nickname "The visit of the All Blacks'so dubbed because of their sombre football garb". Billy Wallace's tour scrapbook contains a newspaper clipping about the Hartlepool match. The newspaper is not identified but because of the close similarity with Buttery's report in "WHY THE ALL BLACKS TRIUMPHED" it has to be from the "Daily Mail". "All Black(s)" is used three times but again there is no reference to the team playing as if "all backs". Nor does the text, whilst lavish in its praise of the New Zealand performance, suggest the headline would have been about "playing as if all backs".
Note: The two column Wallace scrapbook clipping fits the scrapbook page exactly. There is no way of telling if a headline, perhaps with a reference to "all backs" has been trimmed off to make the cutting fit the page.
The other tour book "THE TRIUMPHANT TOUR OF THE NEW ZEALAND FOOTBALLERS" was written by team manager George H Dixon and published in 1906. He got vice-captain Billy Stead to provide a short review of the tour, in which Billy states "One prominent football critic struck the right key when he changed the name "All Blacks" to "All Backs". But note that Stead is going the other way, implying that "All Blacks" (seemingly a name already in use) was changed to "All Backs". So we have a situation where Stead, within a few months of the tour's end, and Wallace, 50 years on, both remembered a newspaper report about "all backs" but the only reports available from J A Buttery (the "Daily Mail" reporter) do not contain any such reference.
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