Second only to the judicious selection and thorough training of a football team is the acquisition of a capable captain, for no matter how well the eleven may be qualified for its work, individually and as a team, its efforts will be barren of success unless the men are ably led on the field.
No matter how well disciplined and equipped for battle an army may be, if its general is cowardly or lacking in foresight and strategy, its efforts will yield only defeat. The same is true of a football team and its campaign, for the captain is the commander of the eleven and on his ability and on the influence of his personality depends largely whether his team is to emerge from its game in glorious victory or in disappointing defeat.
No player should be selected to act as captain who is not a leader in every sense of the word. He should be a player of the very highest individual ability in the first place, for, if he lacks ability to perform his own part in the play, scant will be the confidence which his men will place in him and his commands. He should be able at all times to set an example which his comrades must exert themselves to the utmost to follow. His spirit and enthusiasm must be contagious, for the team will play in exactly the fashion in which it is led, and carelessness or indifference in a leader will be mirrored in every movement of his team. The captain must be a perfect judge of human nature and must be able to meet each crisis as it comes with a fearlessness and aggressiveness which will communicate themselves to every member of his team.
If possible, the captain should by all means be the quarter back of the team, for it is from this position that the duties of field leader can best be performed.
The football captain should be a man who has the ability and disposition to make a close study of his own men as well as of his opponents. He should enter each game prepared in advance in the minutest detail possible and equipped with a knowledge immediately available when called for. His team has been prepared to the best of the ability of its instructors, and when it takes the field to do battle, when the time for action arrives, the captain must realize that the situation now rests with him. He it is who must execute the plan of play that has been arranged. Is his own team strong in one particular, he must be prompt and ready to make use of that strength in the way that will prove most effective. Is there a weakness in the opposing eleven, he must be quick to discover it and must emphasize it by so directing his play that the strength of his own team and the weakness of the opponents are combined to bring victory to the eleven which he is leading.
Summed up, the football captain must be a good general. In adversity he must be prepared to encourage his men to still further efforts, while rapidly evolving a plan which will meet conditions that may not have been foreseen. Even the elements, wind, sun and weather, must be brought into an alliance with his efforts. He must be an adept in field tactics. He must justify his selection as field leader by always doing the right thing in the right place. He owes it to his men, and they, in turn, owe him an obedience which, when given, needs only the addition of general knowledge and ability to make victory over any team of equal and even superior prowess, but less skillfully led, an absolute certainty.