August 30, 1906
Barrow Football Club.
Once more the whirling of time has brought us round to another football season, and on Saturday the game will claim the attention of thousands upon thousands of enthusiasts throughout the land. So far as the Barrow senior club is concerned, the prospects for the season now at hand are particularly rosy, and I anticipate a highly successful season, both as regards the financial aspect and the club’s record.
During the close season the new Committee have been busy preparing for the coming struggle. They have cast their eyes in every direction for new players likely to carry the club to fame and fortune, and they have now at their command a rare galaxy of first-rate talent, which, if I mistake not, will do much to bring Barrow to the front in the “Soccer” game, and provide the ever-increasing number of local enthusiasts with some clever, artistic, and delectable football. Of course, if we are to have anything like first-class football it means an increased wage bill, and from what I can hear the Barrow treasurer will have a little more to fork out this year than before. It must not be imagined, however, that the committee have gone in for any rash expenditure in regard to their players. They have tried to keep within their resources, and at the same time to procure players of value for the money paid to them. Altogether the Committee had applications from between 70 and 80 players in different parts of the country. It was, of course, impossible to test the abilities of all these, but by carefully going into the credentials of the various applicants the Committee have made what appears to be a very happy selection.
The eagerness of followers of the game for the opening of the fray was abundantly manifested last Saturday, when a practice game was played at Little Park, Roose, in order to get the stiffness out of the limbs of the players, and also to give the Committee an idea as to the calibre of the players, and to help them in their judgment when selecting the team. About 1,200 spectators witnessed the game, and the fact that so many went down to Roose to witness mere practice is a bright omen for this season.
I therefore expect to see all previous gate records broken. The accommodation on the ground has been improved by the laying down of additional foot-boards, and an opening has been made at the side of the dressing room in order to enable the players to pass out on to the arena without scrambling over or under fencing. The “gate” on Saturday was much larger than I have seen at many of the Barrow club’s best matches in by-gone seasons. What will it be on Saturday? And what will it be when some of the crack clubs are due at Little Park?
It is gratifying to know that there will not be so much clashing of fixtures this season between the Rugby and Association matches. There are only seven or eight which clash. This is calculated to benefit both clubs, and it will also give a greater opportunity to lovers of football to witness both “soccer” and “rugger” matches, of they are so inclined.
With regard to the players, perhaps it is too early to criticize, but I intend to give a few impressions formed on Saturday’s display. Foster, who hails from Bolton, kept goal well, and stands a good chance of being signed on. He seems very alert, and he brought off some very fine saves. Bert Skinner scored a penalty against him, but the ball went into the net like greased lightning, and if Foster could have stopped that he would not be trying for a place in the Barrow team. Swann, of Glasgow, was given a trial on the previous Saturday, and also displayed marked ability, but from what I can hear his terms are beyond what the Barrow Club is prepared to pay. Fred Wearmouth will make a capital reserve goalkeeper. He has youth on his side, and should yet qualify for a position in the senior club.
With regard to the full backs, there are three or four to pick from, but I fancy that James Rimmer and Charles Pratt will find favour with the Selection Committee, although Bob Finlay will also be in the running. We know what Finlay can do, and this hear he is to receive a benefit. But Rimmer, of Southport, is a rattling good full-back, a sure kicker, and a safe tackler. The same may be said of Pratt, who last season, played for Birmingham Reserves. He also played with the Aston Villa third team the season before. He is well built, and stands 5ft. 10in., and turns the scales at 11st. 12lb.
There is no dearth of half-backs. James Watty is again almost sure to turn out at left half, and there is no denying the fact that the sturdy Irishman is well worth his place. D. Johnson is also a good half-back, and will be difficult to oust from his position at right half. For the centre half position there are two very eligible men in Edward Swinney, of Sunderland, and Walter Dodd of Liverpool. Swinney travelled down to Barrow on Saturday to take part in the practice game, but his train was late, and he did not turn up in time. He went on at half-time, however, and showed sterling ability, some of his footwork being splendid.
I had a brief interview with Swinney, Jim Bell, Pratt and Bert Skinner on Monday night. Swinney is 5ft. 7½in., and weighs 10st. He played for a team named Southwick, which last year won the Wearside League, for which he sprts a magnificent gold medal. The same team also appropriated the Shipowners Cup, and Swinney has another medal testifying to this, besides about a dozen others. He has been playing football with Southwick ever since he left school. He is undoubtedly a wonderful player, if he can maintain Saturday’s form. Dodd is also a fine centre half, though perhaps less artistic than Swinney. Other half-backs who have ad a trial are Parks and Foden, who played for St. Matthew’s last season; Charles Anderson, another smart junior, who was to have played on Saturday, but his knee forbade him taking the field. Magee is also a willing worker, and will no doubt be ready if called upon. He did remarkably well at full-back on Saturday.
There are quite a host of forwards to select from. There are five of six, however, who stand out prominent. R. Dobbie who comes from Arthurlie, a Scottish team of some repute, has made a very good impression, and he and Jim Bell will make a rare right wing. Dobbie had the misfortune to get his knee hurt in a practice match, and it is doubtful whether or not he will able to turn out on Saturday. It is to be hoped he will, both for his own sake and the club’s sake. “Daisy” Bell commenced his football career with Grangetown, a Yorkshire team, in the Northern League, and for the past two seasons he has played for Middlesbrough. He played for the first team for the first season he went there, but last season was included among the Reserves. This is not perhaps surprising, considering the fine talented front rank which the seaport town commanded last season. “Daisy” is 5ft. 7½in. in height, and weighs 11st. 3lb. He is speedy and tricky, and ought to be a very useful forwards. For the the centre position there are two sturdy rivals in Shinner and John Downing. The former has the advantage of being tall and weighty. He is also fast, and passes out well to his wings, and shoots with terrific force. Shinner belongs to Dudley, but says he learned most of his football when in the Navy, from which he has only recently retired. He has played for Middlesbrough, Burton, Bradford City, and Brentford. He did not play at all last season, but is again keen for a game. He is 5ft. 9½in. and weighs 12st. 4ln.
But Downing cannot be overlooked. He is a wonderful youth, hailing from Birmingham, and has much that is scientific about him. Besides he is a glutton for work, and that means something. I should be sorry to see him left out of the team. Perhaps he might take an inside position. There is no question as to his prowess. There is something sparkling about his play which fascinates the spectator, and, what is more, often spells danger to his opponents. He had the misfortune to be injured slightly in the second half of Saturday’s game.
Then there are Henry Bell, of Newcastle, and Frank Perkins, of the same city. There are both two serviceable men, and they combined splendidly on Saturday, but they are not in my humble judgment quite up to the standard of the other players mentioned. Perkins is speedy, and perhaps will have a trial at outside left. Other forwards whose claims for a position will be doubtless considered are Andrew McBeath, who was in dashing form on Saturday; William Spence, and Cresser, of Barrow St. George’s. Solway and Tointon might do for the reserves if there are vacancies. I hear that William Donnelly, a Glasgow forward, is also likely to have a trial.
The players have been training hard during the last week or two, for the opening engagement on Saturday first against Bury Reserves in a Lancashire Combination fixture. Given good weather, I shall expect to see a record gate, and the committee, I am sure would be more than thankful. Mr Brennan has arranged accommodation for training in a commodious building adjoining in Dalkeith Street, where a bath has been filled with hot and cold water, and was basins, and where the players can indulge in punch ball, skipping, etc. Tommy Mullen is the train, and if the players attend to his instructions, they will soon be in the pink of condition. I trust that Dame Fortune will smile beneficently on the club, and that when the season closes Barrow will stand in a prominent position on the League chart, if not actually at the top, and that the club’s coffers will be running over. Here’s to the Barrow A.F.C.
(Source: Soulby’s Ulverston Advertiser: August 30, 1906)