The death of Tom Nicol

June 10, 1915
A large number of people interested in football, and especially those who followed the game in the early League period at Turf Moor, will hear with regret that Tom Nicol is dead.

He has been in failing health for a year or two, and succumbed to his illness on Thursday at the London Hotel, Woolston, Southampton, at the age of 45 years.

Tom Nicol and Billy Bowes, both Scots, became associated with Burnley in 1891, making their first appearance for the club at Derby, and creating a distinctly favourable impression, “both good” being telegraphed to Burnley from Derby; but their debut at Turf Moor was a sensational one. Bowes, if memory serves me correctly, writes “Sportsman,” figured at inside right. Tom Nicol was centre.

Preston North End supplied the opposition on March 7, 1891, and Nicol had the satisfaction of scoring four of the six goals recorded by the Turfites against the Deepdale cracks, to beat whoom in those days was something to talk about for some time, and North End notched two. Nicol, though coming as a centre, was one of the most versatile players ever possessed by the club, and one of the best. He subsequently often figured at outside right with great success. He was outside to Bowes (inside) in the memorable game with the Rovers at Turf Moor, when the Rovers, except Herbert Arthur, the goalkeeper, left the field, on December 12, 1891.

Nicol next partnered Lang at back, giving an equally good account of himself, and eventually went back to wing. After playing for Burnley about three or four years he migrated to Blackburn, assisting the Rovers. Thence he went to Southampton as a player, and took up permanent residence at the Southern port. In two or three years, giving up playing, he became the licensee of one of the most important hotels in the town. Here he stayed for a number of years, and eventually went to keep an hotel at Portsmouth, but after about a year or two he returned to Southampton, and kept the London Hotel, Woolston.

Some eight or nine years ago Tom Nicol won a famous competition at bowls in connection with the Southampton Club, where the game had been played for centuries. By virtue of an old law, he then, for the term of a year, became entitled to the title “Sir Tom Nicol,” a distinction which had not fallen to any other than a native for ages, if it had ever occurred before.

Tom Nicol was one of the more studious players. He was a miner by trade, and studied mining at the Mechanics’ Institute classes with the intention to secure his certificate and become a manager.

Miss Mary Bates, a Burnley lades, however, whom he married, may be said to have upset those plans. She was a barmaid at the Bull Hotel, then kept by the late Mr. James Sutcliffe, and after their marriage they turned to the licensing trade, and he eventually became the lincensee of one of the largest hotels at Southampton.

His memory is still green in the Burnley football annals, and his debut still is frequently the subject of talk.
(Burnley Express: June 12, 1915)

Tom Nicol: Burnley Express: June 12, 1915.


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