Famous men in football, No. 35: Jack Plant

April 28, 1899
In the magnificent series of cup success byw hich the name of Bury has beenw ritten large on the scroll of fame, the old Bollington boy, Plant, has played a part so prominent that the excellence and utility of his work during this critical three months’ course constitution, perhaps, his strongest claim on the goodwill of all who are pleased to call themselves supporters of the Shakers. The number of such followers is now legion, despite the fact that the measure of patronage accorded the plucky club in the past has often been poor to a degree scarcely ever experienced by any other club playing football of equal merit.

But in the full flood of last Saturday’s crowning success, the country hastens to pay a tribute of admiration to the gallant Giil-laners, and every football enthusiast in Lancashire is for the time being content to consider himself a Shaker, or, would it be more correct to say, that he looks at the Bury triumph in he nature of a success for the county.

However, that be, all join in singing the praise of the players who have brought the Cup into Lancashire again, and, therefore, although one of the Bury brilliants adorned this column last week there will be no objection to the introduction on this last Saturday of the season of another member of the victorious Cup fighters. Consequently, we will at once make the acquaintance of Jack Plant.

One of the best known players in Lancashire football circles, Plant’s record of service with the Shakers must stretch over a period of something like ten seasons. Yet he is not the senior member of the eleven, that distinction going to evergreen George Ross, as pleasant and steatly a fellow as ever sported the club colours. Many a match in Bury’s Lancashire League days has been conspicious for the cleverness of this fine pair of players, whose early promise has been filfilled completely.

Neither of them at any point of their respective careers has been up to the lofty level, say of Fred Spiksley or Ernest Needham; only the selected few can ascend so high, but perhaps fewer still can so long hold their own in good company by consistently excellent form as have Plant and Ross. Through one season after another they have held their places in the first-class rank, figuring to striking advantage in Bury’s wonderful Lancashire Senior Cup triumph eight years ago, rendering yeoman service in raising the club into the Football League, helping most materially to consolidate their position as members of this leading combination, and last of all, taking a worthy part in placing Bury in the company of Blackburn Olympic, Blackburn Rovers, and Preston North End, who alone, before last week’s final, had succeeded in so far asserting the quality of Lancashire football as to carry off the English Cup.

Not in brief brilliance, then, lies the worth of Plant. With him, as with Ross, one finds most to admire in the length and consistency of his service. Only once since joining Bury has Plant played elsewhere, and it is an indication of mutual satisfaction associated with the connection between club and player that, although he went to Reading for last season, he was glad to come back again. After a sojourn in the South of only eight months. That his return has been for the good of Bury is beyond question, for the League has had few better left-wings than that furnished by Plant and that clever six-footer, Charles Sagar.

Recognition of this may be found in the selection of Sagar to play for England against Ireland, and in the choice of Plant to appear as one of his country’s representatives against the Scots. Whether the latter quite merited the honour has caused much discussion. Candidly, he scarcely strikes one as absolutely of the stamp for the international of the season, but those who know his club form felt that his unscuessful dsplay three weeks ago, at Glasgow, was calculated to give but a cramped idea of his actual abilities.

Happily, the torrent of adverse criticism which flowed fourth with special freedom from the pens of Southern critics, who had advocated another player for the position, did not prevent the Shaker rising to his true form at the Crystal Palace last week. Perhaps some of those self-same Southerners woud on this occasion have preferred the Parkhead style, but Plant, to the utter discomfiture of Peter Meehan and Sammy Meston, pranced along the extreme left in Gigg Lane fashion, whipping across centres, and slashing in shots with a pace and accuracy which bewildered he defence, and delighted the lust lunged Lancashire men who had travelled all the way to town confident of seeing success, but scarcely daring to anticipate such an overwhelming assertion of Bury’s mestery.

Standing almost 5ft. 8in., and scaling 12st., Plant is a thick-set player, possessing the pluck and go characteristic of his club colleagues, and partnered by an artiste like Sagar, who passes with infite judgment and precision, he makes a most effective outside left. A feature of his partnership with Sagar is the way they play into each other’s hands, apparently knowing well where to place themselves for passes.

Fairly speedy, Plant keeps the ball capitally under control, and when well down the field he centres or shoots with more than ordinary pace.

His centres are lower than those of many men, and the force with which he gets the balla cross or into goal seems to be partly due to a useful flick from the thigh, of which Tinsley Lindley has made so much in a recently published article.

Having maintained his good standard to the present, it does not seem too much to anticipate from Plant several more seasons of first-class football; but whatever the future may bring forth, he is the proud possessor of a Scotch cap and an English Cup medal, and this double distinction can only fall to small minority, even of prominent players.
(Lancashire Evening Post, 28-04-1899, by ‘Perseus’)

Jack Plant, Bury F.C.


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