July 28, 1896
The Wanderers` new secretary
Interview with Mr. Brettell
As is pretty well known by now, at the meeting of the Bolton Wanderers` directors on Tuesday evening, Mr. Frank E Brettell, of Liverpool, was unanimously appointed secretary, succession to Mr. A.H. Downs, who resigned the position one month ago. This decision was arrived at after eighty applications had been considered, and three selected candidates appeared before the directors. The choice ultimately fell on Mr. Brettell, whose experience and general claims were regarded as best fitted to meet the requirements of the club. Although Mr. Brettell is exceedingly known in Liverpool football circles, he needs some introducing to the Bolton public, to whom he comes as a stranger, though Bolton football is by no means strange to him. Accordingly I sought him out one evening this week for the purpose of running into print the full and complete history of his career, or as much of it as Mr. Brettell’s modesty would permit him to pour out. Genial and chatty, I found him willing to talk fast enough, but rather lath to be dragged into any conversation which might savour of blowing his own trumpet with unnecessary force.
Frank Brettell, football secretary (Lancashire Evening Post: November 19, 1898)
Asked as to his first connection with football, Mr. Brettell answered that it commenced as far back as 1878, when association football was first played in Liverpool by the old Everton club on Stanley Park. “I was, of course, quite a youth at that time, the club being run by a lot of young fellows for their own amusement. We used to play the clubs in the district, but were only what would be considered a junior team now. In 1880 I was made secretary, and continued to play myself for several years afterwards, until I had been in the wars so often that I was forced to give up. I had my leg broken above the ankle, playing in a second team match one season, and afterwards went half-back and occasionally goal, having previously played centre-forward and inside left. In my day, of course, Everton was but a struggling club, and in 1880 we wished to introduce a first class team down Liverpool. I was then secretary, and it is a remarkable coincidence that the first big club that consented to come was the Bolton Wanderers. They did it to foster the game in the district, of course.”
“The ground was not enclosed,” I interposed.
“Oh no. They played us on the park, and among the men I remember were Gleaves, the half-back, McKernan, Parkinson, Dobson, Struthers and Steel. I remember the match very well. The crowd broke onto the field at the finish, and there being no protection for the players had a time, you can guess.”
“Bootle were going then too. I suppose?”
“Yes, there was a great rivalry between Everton and Bootle, and for one match Mr Lythgoe brought down a lot of the Druids to assist them, and we were beaten. Next time I got George Dobson, Fallon, and two or three others from Bolton to help us, and we did give Bootle a licking. I played at Bolton in 1884, when I think Everton appeared for the first time at Pikes-lane. We also played Halliwell Jubilee, I think, the same season. About that time Everton also met Great Lever and Astley Bridge, and I played against both the old clubs and several others now extinct. In 1885 Mr. Alec Nisbet became secretary for two years, and I was a sort of assistant. About that time I commenced newspaper work, and have continued since I dropped playing. Mr. Barclay succeeded Mr. Nisbet, and subsequently Mr Molyneux was secretary. “
“You have always kept up your connection with football?”
“Constantly. Since the split I have had more to do with the Anfield club, in a semi official way, but have also attended many of the Everton matches. Last season I travelled four or five thousand miles, including tours with both teams, as newspaper representative. I have been doing work for the “Mercury” for eleven years, and there are few grounds in the country I have not visited, and none belonging to the First and Second Division clubs. I think I may safely say I have always kept closely in touch with the Association game. “
“You had charge of the Liverpool team at the end of last season?”
“Yes. The boys were three weeks at Birkdale Hydro. We got on pretty well, and – well, Liverpool are in the First Division.”
“They ought to make a splash there,” I ventured to murmur.
“Rather,” said Mr. Brettell warmly. “They have a capital team, and a man like Tom Watson should keep them to the front in no small way. Liverpool are likely to boom next season.”
In the course of a long conversation we had on various topics it was evident that Mr Brettell was, to say the least, thoroughly conversant with every phase of professional football, whilst on the authority of the Liverpool press I see that his ardour in connection with theatrical galas and other sports at Anfield has contributed greatly to their success. Mr Brettell is really a school master by profession, but has latterly devoted himself almost entirely to press work in the athletic line. Although comparatively a young man, he has had years of experience of a character which should specially fit him for the post of secretary, and I might mention that his application was supported by Mr. T Gunning (late secretary of the London Association); Mr. H.P. Ellis, the Liverpool handicapper; Mr John Lewis (Blackburn Rovers) and Mr. John McKenna (Liverpool), among many others. Mr JJ Bently considered him a very suitable candidate. Mr Lewis described him as “one of the best authorities in Liverpool,” and Mr McKenna has also spoken flatteringly on his behalf, specially commending his judgment of players, and placing of them in the field. Mr. Brettell leaves Liverpool with the best wishes of a large circle of friends, for he has grown with the game there, and I have no doubt that Boltonians will welcome him with true goodwill and consideration, and that players, shareholders, and supporters needs scarcely be asked to co-operate with him in such a manner as to ensure a smooth progress and contribute to the future fame and success of the Bolton Wanderers. Signed: The Pilgrim
(Cricket and Football Field: August 1, 1896)