Chesterfield Town in bus smash close to Liverpool

Saturday, December 22 – 1945
The Chesterfield Football team had an alarming experience on Saturday when the motor-coach in which they were travelling to Liverpool to play the return match with the Liverpool team skidded on the stone-cobbled surface on the Warrington Road at Whiston, which is ten miles from Liverpool, and came into head-on collision with a trolley bus.

The players and others with them received a severe shaking, but beyond one or two who received slight cuts and bruises none was seriously injured, although all suffered from shock. After about half-an-hour’s delay the party was able to continue its journey in another bus which had been requisitioned through the good offices of the Liverpool F.C., to whom Capt. Dan Newton, a director of Chesterfield F.C. had got into telephonic communication.

The team left Chesterfield in an East Midland motor-coach driven by William Manson, 22 Walgrove Avenue, Boythorpe, Chesterfield, who is one of the drivers chosen by the Company to take the team on its journeys to play other clubs. In addition to the players, who comprised Ray Middleton, George Milburn, Billy Kidd, Allen Pringle, Billy Whitaker, Leo Hobson, Robert Sinclair, William Hart, Syd Goodfellow, Jock Wilson, Harold Roberts, Des Collins, and Bill Watson, there were also Oliver Thompson (chief trainer), Mr. Harold Shentall (Chairman Chesterfield F.C.), Mrs. Shentall, Capt. Dan Newton (director), Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Rollason and “Causal” (The Derbyshire Times).

The party left Chesterfield about 9 o’clock and there was a drizzling rain which continued throughout the journey. It had been decided to go straight through to Liverpool, and arrangements had been made to have a meal there. All went well until Whiston was reached. Here the road, which is well-known to the driver, consists of stone cobbles, and owing to the greasy state of the road due care was being exercised. After negotiating a bend there was seen a coal lorry stationary on its proper side of the road some distance ahead. It transpired subsequently that the lorry had broken down.

The lorry obstructed the driver’s view somewhat of oncoming traffic and he pulled out to get a better view of the road. Noticing a trolley bus approaching he applied his brakes and turned left to give the bus the road. Owing to the greasy road surface the coach developed a front wheel skid, and crashed head-on into the trolley bus. The coach was travelling at about 15 miles an hour and had dropped down to five miles an hour at the point of impact. The radiator of the coach was smashed, but fortunately no other damage was caused to the vehicle. All the passengers were thrown forward in their seats. Nearly all suffered from shock, and beyond one or two who received cuts and bruises, no one was seriously injured.

Wilson, who was in the rear seat, received a cut on the chin; Oliver Thompson, who was in the front of the bus got the full force of the impact and bruised his ribs, and Mr. Rollason, who was sitting behind the river, sustained a badly bruised left knee.

Residents of the houses on the opposite side of the road rendered every assistance. The bus was moved to a space of ground further down the road and towed back to Chesterfield on Sunday. The party continued its journey to Liverpool and it was too late to get a meal. Capt. Newton had arranged with Liverpool F.C. for sandwiches and tea to be provided upon arrival, and having had these the players turned out in time for the game, drawing 2-2.

The driver of the motor coach has had 25 years’ experience and has been with the East Midland Company for 20 years. He holds the silver medal with two bars for safe driving and the accident on Saturday was the first he has had during his 25 years as a driver.

The place has been the scene of several accidents, and the police have been pressing for a new road surface to be laid.
(Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, 28-12-1945)

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