The Story of Bradford Boys by John Bulled 1994
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CHAPTER ONE: THE DARK AGES 1891 - 1901A WORD OF VERY NECESSARY EXPLANATION
CHAPTER ONE: THE DARK AGES 1891 - 1901
INTERLUDE ONE: THE BAINES FOOTBALL CARDS
The beginnings of the story of 'Bradford Boys' are shrouded in mystery. So much so that I have hesitated to date the Centenary history 1991 at all, however the present officials of the Association have indicated that they wish the traditional date of its foundation to be adhered to. There is an accepted version of the early days of the Association, which has appeared, with some variation, in three places.
The essential facts contained in these accounts are:
a) that the Bradford Schools Football Association was formed in 1891, according to the account in the BSSA Handbook, or that alternatively, according to George Tavender's account, "... in 1892 an enthusiastic bunch of teachers formed what was then known as the 'Bradford Schools' Football Section'...."
b) that this Association (or Section) lived a somewhat hand to mouth existence, with inadequate financial resources until 1898;
c) that the Children's Sports at Park Avenue were initiated in 1898 and BSSA was formed to run them; the profits from these Sports were devoted primarily to the support of the Football section.
In fact, I have found no evidence of schools' football, rugby or soccer, having been played in1891, nor have I found any evidence of the important meeting, which according to tradition, was held at the Coffee Tavern at St George's Hall sometime in 1892, at which the Association (or Section) was formed. On the other hand a brochure published by the Bradford Observer in 1949 refers to "Association Football in schools in 1892".
Unfortunately we have no Minutes of the meetings of the Football Association or Section before 1901 and the newspapers of the period showed very little interest in schools' football of any sort, and even less in schools' soccer!
We must remember that, in the early 1890's Rugby was the
predominant game in the area and the grounds which we
associate with soccer: Park Avenue and Valley Parade in
Bradford, and Elland Road in Leeds, were Rugby grounds. The
football that was played in schools in those early years was
undoubtedly Rugby football
The first inter-school football match of which we have any record, was the Final of the Bradford School Board Shield between Belle Vue and Chapel Street schools, which took place at Valley Parade, the ground of the Manningham (Rugby) Football Club, on Saturday 18th March 1893, when, according to the Bradford Observer "... a large number of spectators turned out to witness the encounter...."
The Belle Vue School Magazine at this time, provides us with further details of the competition
"....The schools of the town have been divided into two sections, A and B and each school plays every other school in the same section. A win counts 2 points and a draw 1 point, the school obtaining the highest number of points is accounted the champion of its section, and the champions of the two sections play each other in the final for the possession of the Shield...."
The Magazinethen goes on to record Belle Vue's record in the competition which was as follows: v. Woodroyd won by two tries to nil; v.Great Horton won by two tries to nil; v. Usher Street won by a goal to nil; v. Carlton Street a draw, one try each, ("the most severe struggle of the series"); v. Bowling Back Lane won by one goal, five tries to nil.
The Final League Table was thus: -
Belle Vue 5 4 0 1 9
Usher Street 5 2 1 2 6
Carlton Street 5 1 0 3 5
Great Horton 4 1 2 1 3
Woodroyd 3 1 1 1 3
Bowling Back. Lane 4 0 4 0 0
Like Belle Vue, Chapel Street had won their section with an unbeaten record.
There is some doubt as to the composition of the Belle Vue
team in the Final. The School Magazine lists the
following 15 players:
Emmott (Full-back), C Batchelor, Lee (Capt.), Lister (Three-quarter backs), Bottomley, T Batchelor (Half-backs), Hartley, Palfreyman, Winterburn, Egan, Marlow, Kilby, Carroll, Greenwood and Hogg (Forwards)
The Bradford Observer however, lists only 13 players, which would be expected, and gives Palfreyman and Hogg as reserves.
The Chapel Street team was as follows: - Moulson (Full-back), Crowther, Haynes, Wilkinson, (Three-quarter backs) Rogers, Whiteley (Half-backs), Sheard, Peel, Barraclough, Wright, Vaughan, Booth, & Gillgrass (Forwards). Hill and Glover (Reserves).
A subsequent edition of the magazine carries an account of the game. Chapel Street took an early lead when Rogers ".... ran the length of the field and scored a grand try underneath the posts, which was afterwards converted into a goal. Palfreyman took a pass intended for a Chapel Street boy and dashed over, scoring a try in a good position. C. Batchelor kicked a goal ...." Before half-time, Chapel Street had taken the lead again: ".... Crowther got hold and ran in another try, but no goal resulted. ..." At half-time therefore the score was Chapel Street: one goal one try: Belle Vue: one goal.
In the second-half, Belle Vue gradually took control, their "... forwards having matters their own way during the latter portion of the game. ..." Egan scoring the equalising, and Winterburn the winning, try.
"... The Shield and medals were presented to the winning team after the match by Councillor J. Freeman, who congratulated them on their victory and hoped the match would be the fore-runner of many more of the same character....."
According to The Yorkshireman "... the Shield is composed of silver, mounted on plush and tastefully ornamented with a suitable inscription. The medals are of solid silver, heart shaped, with a scroll on the top, and a football between. On the scroll is "Bradford B.S.F.L." and below in the centre the Bradford Arms. Messrs. Fattorini & Sons, Bradford, designed and manufactured the medals. ..."
Mr. F. Hickling, (President BSAA) 1902 / 1903 and 1912 / 1913, officiated as a linesman and Mr. R. Lishman, (President BSAA 1898 / 1899), is reported as having spoken at the presentation.
In the following season 1893 / 1894, results of matches (Rugby) played in the Bradford Board Schools' League began to appear in the "Bradford Observer'
21stOctober 1893: Chapel Street 9pts v. Barkerend 3pts; Belle Vue 0pts v. Great Horton 0pts; Carlton Street 3pts v. Thornton Lane 0pts.
4thNovember 1893: Whetley Lane 6pts v. Great Horton 0pts;
Barkerend Half-Timers 12pts v. Barkerend Boys
0pts; Lorne Street 14pts v. Thornton Lane 0pts;
Chapel Street 16pts v. Undercliffe 0pts;
Great Horton 9 pts v. Carlton Street 0pts; Feversham Street 15pts v. Tyersal 0pts; Belle Vue 16pts v. Whetley Lane 0pts.
9thDecember 1892: Great Horton 15 pts v. Lilycroft 0pts;
19thMarch 1894: Semi-Finals: Belle Vue 15pts v. Feversham Street 0pts; Chapel Street 0pts v. Whetley lane 0pts; Replay: Chapel Street 0pts v. Whetley Lane 6pts;
21stApril 1894: Final (played at Valley Parade): Whetley Lane 0pts v. Belle Vue 0pts. Replay: Whetley Lane 6pts v. Belle Vue 0pts.
There are no regular results for the 1894 / 1895 season, but we do know that the Semi-Finals played on the 23rd and 30th March 1895 at Park Avenue involved Belle Vue and Wapping, the former winning by 20pts to nil, and Whetley and Feversham Street, the former winning after a replay. Thus Belle Vue and Whetley Lane were once again the finalists.
The final was also played at Park Avenue on the 16th April and attracted 1500 spectators.
Belle Vue won by 3pts to nil.
After the game tea was provided for the teams and
officials at Great Horton Board School.
In February 2016, Jo & Barry Saxton contacted the
BMDSFA website with photographs of a medal (reproduced
below) that was awarded to the above finalists. Their
grandfather, Harrison Howard aged 12, featured in this match
for Whetley Lane and his family still have the medal he was
awarded after 131 years !!!! Produced in gilded
silver by Fattorini & Sons, it features a rugby football
so confirming that in 1894/95 the competitions in schools
had still not converted to the 'round ball'. Thank you Jo
and Barry for your invaluable contribution to the Story of
The 1895 / 96 season was a crucial one. We have a
report of the Bradford Board Schools' League Final in the Bradford
Observer and there is no doubt that on this occasion
it was a "soccer' match. "... Rugby rules have
hitherto been used, but this season the rules of the Association game
have been adopted..." In an earlier edition (28th April)
referring to the Semi - Finals, we read ".... it was decided
to play under Association rules, which, the teachers
believed, would be more convenient, and besides would be
more acceptable to the parents of the boys.
There is a tradition that the change over to "soccer' in the schools came about as a direct result of an accident on the rugby field in which a boy's leg was broken.
This tradition appears, for instance in Terry Frost's History of Bradford City Football Club. He writes "... Another organisation with valid claims to be amongst the pioneers of soccer was the Bradford Schools' and Athletics Association whose authorities made a most influential decision in determining the future of football in Bradford During the 1895 / 6 season following an accident on the rugby field in which a boy's leg was broken, they abandoned rugby (introduced to local schools in 1892) and adopted the soccer code for boys. ..."
I have not been able to track down a report of this actual incident, though there are plenty of references to it.
Trevor Delaney the Historian of Rugby League, made the comment in a letter to me: "... With regard to the dangers of rugby, there was plenty of evidence from the deaths in Yorkshire rugby, that rugby was a dangerous sport. There were also numerous advantages over the teaching of soccer over rugby that it would not need one incident to convince teachers to change. (It could be played in the school yard by smaller numbers, etc.,) Whatever the reason the change was made.
Thornbury and Barkerend were the winners and runners up in one section and Belle Vue and Whetley Lane in the other. In the semi-final Belle Vue beat Thornbury 5 - 0 and Whetley Lane beat Barkerend in a replay. The Final between Belle Vue and Whetley Lane took place at Valley Parade on 2nd May before some 2000 spectators. Belle Vue were successful by 2 goals to 1 "... after a grand game which, considering the youth of the players was full in promise of scientific cultivation of this form of football."
In the season 1896 / 1897 there are two results: on the 30th November 1896 (Drummond 5 v. St Paul's 4, and Ryan Street 4 v. Undercliffe 0) and a few further results in the ensuing months.
On 8th March 1897, we have the result of the first recorded inter- city game, Bradford Boys 2 v. Leeds Boys 0 (2 - 0 at half time) played at Valley Parade.
On 5th April 1897, we have the results of two semi-finals played at Valley Parade: Lilycroft 1 v. Chapel Street 1; Whetley Lane 1 v. Lorne Street 0. We also learn that the League was divided into two sections each of nine teams, on a geographical basis, Eastern and Western. Further, that Belle Vue won the Eastern Section but had been disqualified for playing an over age boy. The Lilycroft v. Chapel Street semi-final was replayed at Bowling Back Lane and was again drawn 1-1.
We know that Lilycroft reached the Final in which they met and defeated Whetley Lane.
In season 1897 / 1898 the Bradford Observer gives
us a number of results and indeed, some further details e.g.
a report on the Princeville v. Carlton Street match on 6th
November 1897.There is also, on the 5th February 1898, a
description of the way in which the League was organised in
that season. It was divided into four sections, based on the
Park in which the school played its home matches.
The sections were:
Bowling Park: Usher Street, Lorne Street, Ryan Street, St James's and St Stephen"s.
Manningham Park: Whetley Lane, Belle Vue, Lilycroft, Drummond and Frizinghall;.
Horton Park: Great Horton, Carlton Street, Christ Church and Princeville;
Peel Park: Barkerend, Wapping, Feversham Street and Hanson..
We know that Whetley Lane were the first winners of the Shield beating their old rivals Belle Vue in the Final 4 - 0.
Before the 1898 / 1899 season began, there had been an important development, the holding of the first Park Avenue Children's Sports on 12th July 1898, "... a bold conception of the BSFA... " as the Bradford Daily Argus described it.
It is fairly obvious that the Association must always have been pretty short of money, and the Sports were organised by the BSFA as a "project for raising money", though a substantial portion of the profits were assigned to various Charities.
The Sports were well supported both by competitors and spectators. The former exceeding 3000 in number, were so numerous that "... the programme ended at 9 pm, having commenced at 2 p.m...." while according to the Yorkshire Sports, the seats were filled with a ".... variegated mass of humanity... ", who paid £ 80 4s 10p at the gate. Such a sum, even allowing for donations to Charity, was more than enough to finance the limited activities of BSFA.
It is generally accepted that the introduction of the Park Avenue Sports coincided with the foundation of the Bradford Schools' Athletics Association (BSAA) and indeed BSAA was founded to run the Sports.
In fact, there is little doubt that the Football Association started the Park Avenue Sports and even as late as 7th September 1901 the Yorkshire Sports emphasised that "... the BDSFA is the name of the Association...."
With a little money behind it, the Association was able to enter the Season 1898 / 1899 with a comparatively light heart.
There are far more results available in this season, when we note the following schools as taking part: Hanson, Lilycroft, Lorne Street, Whetley Lane, Belle Vue, Christ Church, St. James's, Princeville, Barkerend, St.Mary's, Carlton Street, Drummond, Wapping, Ryan Street and Usher Street.
There are reports in the Bradford Observer of the following games: Whetley Lane v. Christ Church on 22nd October 1898; Usher Street v. Lorne Street, on 3rd December 1898 and Lilycroft v. Lorne Street, on 4th February 1899.
In the early months of 1898 results appear under the heading "Cup'. In the Semi-Finals on 18th February Lilycroft beat Wapping 3 - 0 and Whetley Lane beat Belle Vue 2 - 1, while in the Final on 25th March, Whetley Lane beat Lilycroft 3 - 0
This must in fact have been the Schools' Shield (the League play-off), as the Schools' Cup was not introduced until the following season.
We also have, in March, the result of two City Team trials on the 4th and 11th, in the first of which, the Possibles beat the Probables 3 - 0, and in the second of which the Probables did rather better earning a 2 - 2 draw
Following these trials we have the report of an inter-city game v. Halifax, a return game in fact, played at Bowling Back Lane.
The game resulted in a 3 - 3 draw, the Bradford scorers being Horley (2) and Hardaker. The earlier game at Halifax had been lost 0 - 3.
The 1899 / 1900 season was notable for the introduction of the Schools' Cup competition, won in this inaugural season by Usher Street, who beat Belle Vue 2 - 1 at Park Avenue. The "executors' for Usher Street were Robinson and Gledhill, while Grunwell scored for the losers. This trophy was the gift of Mr. Dan Mullarkey, a local jeweller.
Belle Vue and Usher Street were again in the Final of the Schools' Shield and; on this occasion the scores were reversed. Two inter-city games are recorded in this season, both v. Halifax. Bradford won the home game 3 - 1 on 27th January 1900, but were beaten at Halifax 2 - 1 on 26th February.
In the 1900 / 1901 season the following schools took part: Barkerend, Frizinghall, Drummond, Thornton, Christ Church, Parish Church, Wapping, Bierley, Lorne Street, Great Horton, Belle Vue, Carlton Street, St James's, Lilycroft, Hanson, Whetley Lane, Ryan Street and Usher Street.
Belle Vue and Hanson met in both the Shield Final and the Schools' Cup Final and Belle Vue were victorious on both occasions, 4 - 0 (after a replay) and 3 - 2 respectively.
There were three inter-city games this
season. The first against Hull, on 2nd February 1901. The
result is not reported, but the team comprised the following
Spurr (Ryan Street), Brogden (Hanson), Blackburn (Usher Street), Ledgard (Whetley Lane), Rhodes (Hanson), Walker (Belle Vue), Grunwell (Belle Vue), Dawson (Whetley Lane), Dobson (Whetley Lane), Silson (Belle Vue) and Wilby (Lorne Street).
The same team played at Halifax, where "... the Bradford Boys have never been victorious... ", on 23rd February, and registered their first win there by 3 goals to 1; Brogden, Wilby and Silson being the scorers.
There wasa return game with Halifax at Park Avenue on 23rd March with Brown (Hanson ) taking the place of Dobson. This resulted in a 1 - 1 draw.
In this period and for some years beyond it, "Football Cards " were extremely popular. They are nowadays also described as "Trade Cards" as they carried adverts for local businesses on their back.
John Baines, who at different times lived in Oak Lane, North Parade and Carlisle Street, claimed to have invented, "Football Cards", six of which could be purchased for a halfpenny.
The first cards portrayed rugby players, but their popularity increased and with the growth of professional football (soccer) in the later years of the 19th Century and the early years of the 20th.
Baines also included a number of Bradford schools players in his cards.
John Baines died in 1908 but a son continued the business until 1926.
Sales reached a peak in 1920 when Baines is said to have
sold 13,500,000 cards.
Illustrations of some of the cards (from various producers
not all Baines) are included below.