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Football in Prescot 5: Whiston F.C. part 2

posted 19 Feb 2019, 03:05 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 19 Feb 2019, 06:32 ]

This the second part of a feature on one of Prescot’s early footballing rivals - Whiston F.C. looking at the second, more successful, period of their history through the 1920’s and 30’s. It was printed in the Prescot Cables v Colne matchday programme on 9th February 2019.

After the First World War, a new Whiston side was launched, with a new name, as Whiston Parish Church, and new Red shirts – which earned them the nickname of The Robins. The club continued to use the Green Dragon ground, on Warrington Road. They entered the Liverpool County Combination, so local derbies and intense local rivalry with Prescot would once again, be part of the local football scene.

In their first season, the Robins finished in a respectable mid table 8th position, but the following season (1920/21) they became Champions, comfortably ahead of Prescot, inflicting 3-1 and 3-0 defeats upon their rivals in the process, to reclaim the accolade of top local side.

The Whiston Parish Church club had lofty ambitions and in 1920/21, they also fielded a team in the Lancashire Alliance League, as well as their Liverpool County Combination team. However, they had overstretched themselves and withdrew from the Lancashire Alliance after just one, disappointing season. For the 1921/22 season they entered the English F.A. Cup for the first time. It proved to be their most successful season in the famous cup competition.

In the Extra Preliminary Round they were drawn away to the new New Brighton club – which had evolved from the ashes of the South Liverpool. Indeed, the cup tie was the first home game for the new club at their Sandheys Park ground, on September 10th, 1921. As a Lancashire Combination club, the new seasiders were confident of making progress against their Liverpool County Combination opponents. Unfortunately, for them, and the majority of the 9,000 crowd, Whiston spoiled the party, running out comfortable 5-3 winners.

The Whiston team for the match was;

Whiston Parish Church:   Bickerstaffe, Owen, Fenny, H Lyon, Birks, J Leadbetter, Dagnall,

W Lyon, A Leadbetter, Roberts, Neve.

Centre forward, Alan Leadbetter scored two for Whiston on that historic day. Playing at wing half in the team that day was Alan’s brother, John Herbert “Jack” Leadbetter. The small, but tenacious Jack eventually moved from Whiston to New Brighton for their first season in the football league. Unfortunately, he made only a single appearance for the first team, before moving on to Connah’s Quay & Shotton, where he spent 4 seasons. He moved back, briefly, to Prescot Cables in 1929 before drifting into Junior football in Liverpool.

Also in the Whiston side was Walter Neve, who had also played after the war for Prescot. Walter was the younger brother of Ned who had played for the old Prescot club and had had a successful league career before the war.

In the next round of the F.A. Cup Whiston landed a home tie against Cheshire League team Sandbach Ramblers. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, before 3,000 spectators. The replay also ended in a draw, one apiece, as did a second replay at Crewe. After a fourth game was scheduled to be played at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park ground, Sandbach withdrew from the competition and Whiston finally progressed after the FA awarded them a walkover.

In the first Qualifying round, the Colliers travelled to Atherton and came home with an excellent 4- 2 victory over the Lancashire Combination side. Whiston bowed out of the competition in the second qualifying round, losing at home to Cheshire League side Runcorn.

During the cup tie saga with Sandbach, Whiston were also involved in another controversial cup tie – this time in the FA Amateur Cup.  After victory over Old Xaverians the FA ruled that the Robins should forfeit the match, as they had fielded a professional player, by the name of Banks, in the match. Whiston strongly denied this and proved to the FA that they had no player of that name on their books, nor had trialled any player of that name during the pre-season. The club stated that although they had “4 or 5 professionals”, none of them had played in the game. Although the club were exonerated by the FA, it proved too late for them to be reinstated into the Amateur Cup.

After several awful seasons when they bounced around the bottom end of the County Combination, Whiston’s fortunes changed dramatically and the side finished as runners-up to Burscough Rangers in the Liverpool County Combination in 1925/26 (albeit 10 points behind the champions), and finished as runners up again, behind Marine in 1927/28. This was to herald the most successful period in the club’s history.

In 1928/29, Whiston had a quite remarkable season, as they secured the Liverpool County Combination Championship – losing just one game, the George Mahon Cup and the Lord Wavertree Cup, thus creating their own piece of local footballing history. In the Liverpool Challenge Cup, Whiston reached the final where their opponents were none other than Prescot Cables.

A crowd of over 6,000 attended the Anfield Road final on the morning of Easter Monday 1929. It was generally thought that Cables (by now a Lancashire Combination team) would achieve victory over their County Combination rivals. After 5 minutes, a sweeping Prescot move saw Wright drive the ball into Whiston's goal. Shortly after, Kay hit the Whiston crossbar and the crowd expected Prescot to assert themselves. But, despite having all the play, the Tigers could not increase their lead. Before half time, Gray handled the ball in his own area and Bretton converted the penalty for Whiston to level the scores. A one-all interval scoreline did not reflect the game at all and in the second period, Cables exercised their superiority with Rowe and Caulfield adding goals for a comfortable 3-1 win to retain the trophy for a second year.


Prescot Cables:      Scott, Tarrant, O’Brien, Gray, Holmes, Kane,

Keenan, Roberts, Caulfield, Rowe, Kay.

Whiston Parish:     Naylor, Vickers, Fenney, Short, Bretton, Attwood,

Hitchen, Bonney, Tole, N. Taylor, F. Taylor.

Amazingly, in 1930, the two rivals reached the final of the Liverpool Challenge Cup again. Unfortunately for the large crowd, the final was a poor affair, played on a very heavy Goodison Park. Jimmy Holmes scored the only goal to register Prescot's third consecutive cup final victory.

In 1930, Whiston were invited to participate in the newly formed Lythgoe Memorial Cup, only to be defeated by Marine in the semi-final.

The club reached the final of this cup, in the following year, where they were beaten by old foes, Prescot Cables, on their own patch.

In the last game of the 1931-32 season, Whiston’s superior goal difference meant that they only needed one point to become County Combination champions, but a 1 – 0 defeat to Marine in the final game handed the title to Everton A. The Robins were also semi-finalists in the Liverpool Challenge Cup for the fourth year running, but lost 5 – 1 to Everton in a replay.

Whiston’s Centre Forward at the time was Boult, who attracted the interest of Everton. The Blues asked him to play a trial in the Central League Team, before offering him a contract to secure his services at 30/- per week. Another Whiston player catching the eye was Constantine, who was selected for the Liverpool County Combination representative side for a game against the West Lancashire League at Blundellsands.

In 1932/33, Whiston went one better than the previous season and were crowned champions of the Liverpool County Combination again, despite a 5-1 hammering by, eventual runners-up, Everton ‘A’ in mid-season.

In the summer of 1933, the club’s AGM decided to merge the Supporters Club with the football club to form Whiston Recreation Club, to cater for Cricket, Tennis and Football and indoor sports and pastimes. The football committee remained intact and continued to function, unchanged. The new Recreation club also continued to promote the hugely popular Sports Day on the football ground.

The well known amateur side, the Northern Nomads shared the Green Dragon ground during season 1933/34 for their first season in the Liverpool County Combination, before moving on, again, to a new ground at Aintree.

In 1934, Whiston came up against Prescot B.I. Social (who had beaten Prescot Cables Reserves in an earlier round) in the semi-final of the Liverpool Challenge Cup. Played at Cables’ Hope Street ground, Whiston were victorious, to set up a final tie with Everton ‘A’.  Unfortunately the Robin’s cup hoodoo continued and they came home from Anfield defeated yet again (3-2), having played for 70 minutes with ten men, after an injury to Bonney.

During the Spring and early Summer of 1934, rumours were spreading locally that, due to financial difficulties, and disputes with the Recreation Club, the club was about to dissolve its football section. Despite strenuous denials from the officers of the club, these rumours proved to be true and, sadly, on 25th June 1934, Whiston F.C. was officially disbanded. Some had even suggested a merger with Prescot Cables to create a “super club” for the district, although this came to nought.

After the most successful period in their history this was an unfortunate way for the proud Whiston club to end.