Netherthong football history : Part 1 from 1887 to 1923


  The earliest records show that the Netherthong men first played rugby football at a time when the scoring system was in a state of flux. As you carry on reading, you will see that they were able to  score goals, tries and minors. The results and other information were entirely down to whether the weekly local paper , the Express, included them as I have been unable to find any other sources of information.. The majority of matches attracted large attendances and betting on games was not unknown.

  The earliest rugby was as played at Rugby School. The only scores came from goals and there were no points value associated with scoring. In 1871 the first Rugby Football Union stated that “ a match shall be decided by a majority of goals only “. Proposals continued to be made and rejected and, prior to 1886, various clubs assigned their own points system. The practice of touching down the ball behind your own goal ?? was awarded a Point, sometimes referred to as the “ Minor Point “ or “ Rouge “.

 In the 1889s and 1890s matches were decided by a majority of points which were given for goals and tries.

Although no clear records exist, there was a period of time when both rugby and football were being played in the village and there are reports that rugby was being played at an irregular frequency right up to 1905 . After that date the men in the village stopped playing rugby and changed completely over to association football. However there does seem to be some confusion over the dates.

        The very first report  in the paper was on Jan 29 1887, although there would have been a league in place  prior to this date.

Netherthong 2nd. v Holmfirth 2nd. Netherthong won by 4 goals, 2 tries and 8 minors to 1 try. The scorers  were  Ben Shore, A. Wimpenny, J.Woodhead, J .Buckley, T.Woodhouse and it was reported that Ben Shore’s try was the result of a splendid run the whole length of the field. He also dropped a goal.

Mar 12. v Thurstonland.  The team was : Back – H. Beaumont : Three- quarters – S.Wimpenny, B.Shore, R.Buckley ; Half-backs –H.Battye,A.Ricketts. Forwards – E.Dyson ( capt ) , J.Hoyle, J.Sykes, E.Jagger, T.Woodhouse, J. Chappell, W. Woodhead, W.Sykes, H.Hellawell. Netherthong were the winners by 2 goals,4 tries and 11 minor points to nil.

May 14.  Mr.G.F.Dearnley’s team ( comprising all the players from Netherthong ) played Cumberworth & District. The match was for the benefit of a Cumberworth player who had broken his arm some time previously.  Netherthong lost.

September 17. The Express published  the list of Netherthong  football club fixtures for the forthcoming season.  Netherthong  would play in blue/white.  First team captain – G.F.Dearnley, Second team captain – Tom Beaumont.  Matches would be played home and away and the other teams were : Milnsbridge, Honley, Huddersfield Trinity , Shelley, Longwood, Cumberworth, Netherton, Milton Church, Huddersfield St. Josephs, Deighton Rangers and Armitage Bridge.

Oct 21.  v Huddersfield Trinity. Played at home and Netherthong won by 2 tries and 5 minors to 1 minor.

Nov 26.  v Cumberworth. The captains, after consultation, decided to dispense with tackling owing to the slippery state of the ground. Later on the Netherthong captain realized that Cumberworth were playing 16 men to their 13. Time was called after 20 minutes e/w. with Netherthong the winners. 

Dec 31. Netherthong Rangers v Holmfirth Juniors. The junior clubs played at Netherthong and Netherthong won the toss and the game.  The junior team were : H.Swallow, J.Hoyle, C.Hoyle ( capt ) , H.Hoyle, Beaumont, Reckitts, H.Wood, Gill, Beaumont, Hobson, F.Gill, H.Gill, Mallinson, Sykes & Buckley

Jan 7 1888.  v Golcar . The ground was as hard as flint, the captains consulted and, as there was a large crowd, it was decided to play a short exhibition of 20 minutes e/w with no tackling and to consider the game a draw regardless of the result.

Jan 21.  Many of the local players attended the Holmfirth Football Club Ball with Mr. Fitton’s band from Netherthong supplying the music.

 A game between a team of under 21s and a team of those over 21 from the village resulted in a hollow victory for the juniors.

Jan 28. Win for Netherthong v Thurstonland. Feb 4.  v Lockwood Rangers. As both clubs had the same colours , Netherthong had to tie a broad strip of red round their jerseys. It was a very eventful game with a dubious second try for Lockwood causing a lot of rancour. The Express reported that it was obvious that a lot of money had been staked on the game which Lockwood won.

Feb 11.  v Crosland Moor. A measure of the popularity of local football  was that a large crowd numbering about 1,000 turned up to watch. It was noted that the referee turned up late.  In the evening the team were entertained to supper at the Queen’s Arms and Joe Sykes brought the house down with the Netherthong Football Song which was his own composition. N.B. I have been unable to find a copy of this song.

Mar 10. Netherthong  Rangers v Scholes was a win for Netherthong.

Mar 17.  The village was still playing the occasional  rugby game and Netherthong played Netherton away in front of 500 spectators. Netherton  won by 2 goals, 2 tries and 4 minors to 3 tries and 2 minors. Netherthong Rangers v New Mill – a big crowd saw Netherthong win.

May 12 1888. The Annual supper and general meeting was held in the headquarters of the club, the Queen’s Arms. An excellent supper was supplied by Mrs. Senior.

Netherthong played in the new season 1888-89 and on the first game of the season on September 15 they lost away to Netherton.

Sep 22. They beat Hall Bower in the 2nd. round of the Holliday Charity Cup Competition. Oct 13. Netherthong were away to Deighton Rangers  and won and the Express Newspaper reported that everyone travelled by waggonette,

Oct 27.  played Deighton at home and won. Nov 3. The second teams of Netherthong  and Netherton played at Netherton and the result was a draw.

Dec 1. The Local Rugby Derby v Honley. There was a big crowd but as there was a strong breeze it was agreed that 2 x 15min. play should take place each way. Result was Netherthong 1 try and 6 minors to Honley’s 7 minors.

Dec 8.  More rugby. Netherthong – 1 goal and 3 minors played Longwood – 1 dropped goal and 3 minors.

Dec 15. Netherthong v Netherton. The newspaper reporter got carried away with his own rhetoric and reported . “ Harry Hellawell was brilliant. By Jove Pickering is a champion at the handling –off game. What think you Battye? Did you enjoy it when he tippled you over once?” He was so excited he omitted to give the score.

In the December 24 issue of the Holmfirth Express there was the following large advert .


Grand Football Match To-day

At Netherthong

Lockwood v Netherthong

Kick off at 3 prompt.

 There was no match report or score and there was no more reference to a Netherthong football team from 1888 until 1903. They  were playing in the 1903-4 season but there was very little information in the Express. It did report that, in March 1904, Netherthong  were  5th but omitted to give the final table. However Netherthong entered the league again for the 1904- 5 season and the first report in December said that in the No.2 competition  Netherthong were 12th. out of 14. Their record was :

P 11 W 1 L 8 D 1 Points 5. Goals for 24, against 77 and  by January 1905 they  had climbed up the table to 8th.position with 10 points.

The following are four photographs of various football teams – I’ve been able to date them but haven’t been able to identify the players and officials.


Netherthong A.F.C. 1900s


Netherthong A.F.C. 1911
Netherthong AFC

Netherthon A.F.C.1930s ?

As I mentioned earlier it would appear that in 1905 Netherthong were still playing both football and rugby but reports were few and far between.

In March they played Lightcliffe Road Juniors in the 1st. round of  the Huddersfield & District Cup. There was a very good attendance, the game was reported in detail and Netherthong  scored 26 points made up of 4 goals and 6 tries, Lightcliffe could only respond with 1 goal and 1 try for 5 points.  The  team was : Back – N.Haigh. 3/4s – S.Haworth,W.Marshall, J.Turton, F.Dawson. 1/2s – L.Green and W.Bray. Forwards – J.Eastwood, T.Child, S.Hobson, J. Russell, J.Ashton, A.Battye, W.Brook and C.French. The referee was W.Grange.

 In May 1906 the Netherthong Association Football Club held a well attended AGM in the Working Men’s Clubhouse. The business was to discuss prospects for the next season,  the possibility of securing a more convenient ground and a review of the past season. It was decided to apply for admission to one of the Huddersfield District Leagues. The club had had a successful season both financially and otherwise and had a small balance in hand. They had had three more wins than losses and the prospects looked good. At the AGM of the Huddersfield & District Football League, Netherthong were confirmed as being in Group 2 of the second division along with Holmfirth, Hepworth, New Mill, Brockholes, Parish Church, Scholes Old Boys, Lockwood, Thornton Lodge, Emley and Crossland Hill.

 They had been admitted to the 3rd. Division and by October were in 2nd. place after 6 games with only one loss.

In 1907 Netherthong  had been promoted to the  Huddersfield & District League First Division A group  and the season kicked off in October.. By the end of November, Netherthong  were firmly anchored at the bottom of the league of 12 teams as they had played 9 and lost them all. In December there was a match report of the game against Underbank, played at home , which Netherthong won 4-2. By April 1908 Netherthong were still bottom of the league having played 22 games, winning 3, drawing 1 and losing the rest.

 Presumably, as a result of the previous  season’s results, Netherthong  did not re-join the Huddersfield League but instead opted to join  the Holmfirth & District League Association of 14 local teams. The Association resolved that all clubs must be within a radius of 5 miles from Holmfirth : that all players must reside or work within a 6 mile radius and that no players were allowed to receive any moneys above their travelling expenses. 

 In one of the first games against Underbank, the referee, J.Rowsell, after allowing a goal, stopped the game and refused to restart until an “ undesirable “ Netherthong spectator, who had used some fluent language to him, was removed from the field. By October they were 9th. and had won 2 games out of 7 played but  moved up to 7th. in November. By January 1909 they had played 17 and won 9 and with 20 points were laying 6th. In the same month the West Yorks Commission for reported players, suspended D.Sykes for fighting. The next month they were still 6th. after 22 games and in the report of a game against Scholes which Netherthong  won 3-1  it said that W. Haigh, C.Ramsden, Farrar, Hobson and Child all played well but the best man was H.Cartwright at centre-half. The teams in the league were New Mill Reserves, Hepworth Reserves, Underbank, Hade Edge, Holmbridge, Crow Edge United, Dunford Bridge, Honley Reserves, Holmfirth Wesleyans, Brockhole Reserves, Scholes Reserves, Holmfirth SJ, Thurstonland and Netherthong.

The Football Club held a very successful garden party in September and 240 sat down for an excellent tea served in the United Methodist Church School. Afterwards a gala was held in Mr. Lockwood’s field at Deanhouse. Games were played and the Philharmonic Band  provided the music for dancing.

The league re-started the same month with 14 teams and some new faces including Wooldale United and Holmfirth Territorials..   Early results were : Netherthong 0 v Crow Edge 3  : Wooldale 2 v Netherthong 4 ; Hepworth United 3 Netherthong 0.  After 8 games they  were 6th.  with 4 wins and by February 1910  had moved to 5th. but suffered a major defeat against Dunford Bridge by 7goals to nil. Unfortunately once again there were no further football reports for the season and no final table.

If you are interested in a detailed football history of a local village team , you should try to get hold of a book titled ” Bonnie Oodle “. It celebrated 75 years of Wooldale Wanderers A.F.C. from 1919 to 1994 and for many years the team played in the same leagues as Netherthong. It was researched, compiled and written by Simon Paul Berry and is a magnificent piece of work. It includes lots of team photographs, league tables, sketches and other ephemera. I have taken details of some final league tables from it which were not reported by the Express.

 The season restarted again in September 1910  and the fixture lists for the season 1910-1911 were given in the paper. Their  first game gave the village  a 1-0 win against Wooldale United and by the middle of November Netherthong had played 9, won 5 and had 10 points. At the end of the year they had climbed to the dizzy heights of  3rd. with 20 points and by the end of January had moved into second place  with 13 wins out of 17 games played. They drew with Honley 0-0 and beat Upper Cumberworth 3-0 with two goals for J.Harrison and one for J.Batley. At the end of February a large crowd watched  the much awaited top of the table clash between Netherthong  and New Mill . The result was a draw but the game was spoilt by strong winds. The top of the table was very close , Netherthong were on 31 points just 1 point behind New Mill but level with Honley and Hepworth Wesleyans. Unfortunately once again for reasons only known to the editor, the Express did not carry any further reports so the final results were  not published  but at the club presentation, see later, it was announced that Netherthong had come second to New Mill. The Wooldale book confirmed that Netherthong had come 2nd. to New Mill having played 26 games, winning 17, losing 5 and drawing 4.

 The Express did however report that Netherthong  AFC had won medals in the Meltham AFC medal competition and that the team had received a big reception in the village when they returned.

 The presentation of medals for the 1910/11 season was held in the National School in May. Mr.G. Ricketts presided and the medals were presented by Cllr. J.Jackson who had been the president of the club since it was formed 9 years ago. Jackson said that he thought it the first time that any Netherthong team, football or cricket, had covered themselves with glory. Along with their gold medals at Meltham  they had also been runners – up in the Holmfirth League Championships. Medals were presented to : A. Heeley ; L. Haigh ; W. Haigh ; A. Bray ; H. Taylor ; S. Scholfield ; W. Charlesworth ; J. Batley ; J. Harrison ; P. Hobson ; A. Wrathall;  H. Sykes ; T. Eastwood  and N.Moorhouse. The evening continued with music and dancing.

September 9 1911 saw the start of the new football season. The first game was at home to Holmfirth Territorials and Netherthong drew 1-1  but they lost their next game 0-4 to Hepworth United. In the third game against Shepley Corinthians the match was not finished due to a dispute with the Shepley players which resulted in them leaving the field before the end of the game.

Other results were New Mill 3 – Netherthong 2 : Netherthong 3 – Hinchliffe Mill Territorials 1:They drew 0-0 with Honley, beat Victoria United 3-2 and also beat Hepworth Wesleyans  by 3-1 and by the end of November they  were 4th. in the league.

In the Cup game they beat Lockwood Wesleyans by 3 to 1. However in the league they lost again to New Mill, the League leaders, by 2 goals to 1. Unfortunately due to space pressure in the local paper, it did not always carry the weekly results.

In December they played in the 1st. round of the Medal Competition and drew with Hepworth 1-1. In January 1912, they  were still 4th. in the league having played 11 games, won 5, lost 3 and drawn 5. Their goal difference was 18-17. The results from the next few matches were a 2-0 win against Holmfirth Territorials. a good 5-0 win over Upper Cumberworth . a loss by  0-2 to Shepley Corinthians before rebounding to beat Hinchliffe Mill 2-1.

Once again  there were no more match reports or the final league table.

As there were no reports in the Express  at the start of the new season it  appeared that the league had been disbanded and this was somewhat confirmed in June 1913. The Holmfirth & District Association Football league held a meeting with Mr.W. Haigh in the chair to discuss re-organising and it was decided that the League be re-constructed and that the Secretary advertise for clubs ( within a radius of 6 miles ) and players ( within a radius of 7 miles ) to join. However I cannot find any report that this league actually started up.

In March 1918 there was a large attendance at a dance in the Church schoolrooms promoted by the football club. During the interval a portrait of the 1917-18 team was presented to the WMC  and Mr. Jackson accepted the portrait and congratulated the club on its record for the season  to date of 11 wins and 2 draws out of 21 matches played. It was reported that over £6 had been given to the Patriotic Fund and credit to the club’s success was given to Harold Wimpenny, the secretary. What is most puzzling about this report is that the Express did not carry any reports on any of the local football matches.!

  It was not until September 1919 that the Express reported that , after its suspension because of the war, the League would re-start on October 4 and gave the complete fixture list right through to March 27 1920. The teams were Scholes, Hepworth United, Hade Edge, Wooldale, Brockholes, Hepworth Wesleyans, St. John’s Inst. , New Mill, Holme Bridge and Holmfirth Sec. Schools OBs and Netherthong.

 In the first game of the season Netherthong  beat Wooldale 3-0 with Norman Bailey and C.Gill prominent. To celebrate the return to league football, the club held a dance in the National School. A large number attended and C.R.Wood and W. Marsden were MCs. The music was provided by C.A.Wood ( piano ) and F.Walker ( violin ).

More results were : A loss to Brockholes by 1-2, followed by another loss this time to St. Johns by 2-3 with S.Bailey and F.Beardsell scoring for Netherthong.

Netherthong   ( N.Bailey, Sykes, Turner and Harrison scoring ) beat Holmfirth SB 1 but lost a closely fought game against Scholes by 3 – 4 with Sykes 2 and Bailey scoring. The next game they were thrashed 7-0 by Hade Edge and at the start of 1920 Netherthong  were 8th. having played 10 and won 3.

Their first game of 1920 was a win 4-1 against Wooldale and they followed this with a good 5-2 defeat of Hepworth Wesleyans with C.Wood 2, E.Sykes,F.Beardsell and W.Shore scoring the goals. 

The next game was  a very thrilling Cup game against Honley in January and at full time the teams were drawn 4-4. Unfortuntely Honley scored in extra time. F.Beardsell, V. Messenger, E.Sykes and J.Messenger scored.

Netherthong  1 Brockholes 0 was the last game reported by the Express and the  final table showed Netherthong came 10th out of 12 teams, winning 5 but losing 12.

A very successful whist drive and dance promoted by members of the club was held in the Church schoolroom in November 1920. There were 26 tables and Norman Bayley, captain of the club, presented the prizes to the winning players. At the dance a programme of twenty dances, all up to -date, were rendered by C.A.Wood on piano and F.Walker on violin.

 In August 1921 the Holmfirth & District Association Football League agreed to 16 teams for the new season and the season kicked off on September 4 with  six new clubs having  joined. The sports writer said that Netherthong seemed to be relying on their own players for the season and that the loss of Rollinson , between the sticks, would be a great loss

 Early results were :  A win against  Scholes by 4-3 was followed by a loss to Burnlee by 1-3 ( C.Gill scorer )  . Netherthong lost again to Burnlee by 1-2 ( H.Wade scored) but they got back to their winning ways by defeating Hepworth Wesleyans 2-0.

 The Express started to give more coverage to local  football and there was a five line report on each of the Saturday games of all the teams in the league. The style of  writing was rather archaic – “ Netherthong have made a decent show lately. Lets hope they keep it up.”

 The fixtures had been arranged that in general the same teams would meet  each other home and away on consecutive weeks.  Netherthong drew away to Victoria United 1-1 ( scorer J.Harker ) and won the return at home  by 5-1. The match report went ” Football is on fete at Netherthong just now and is just the ticket for encouraging their supporters “

Netherthong  beat Millhouse 3-2 at home  ( J.Healey, N.Kaye, W.Shore ) but got thrashed 6-0 away to the same team.

 The rules of the league were explicit about the maximum distance players had to live from their club and was normally about 6 miles. However transfers between clubs were permitted and two  that were approved  were G. Renshaw from Brockholes to Netherthong  and J.Rollinson from Wooldale to Netherthong.

Netherthong beat New Mill at home by 1-0 ( scorer G.Harrison ) but lost the return by 2-4 with J.Shore scoring both goals. C.P.Gill was transferred to New Mill.

Netherthong beat  Wooldale 3-1  but the next match at home to Brockholes was a very significant result as they lost 0-2 making it  Netherthong’s first home defeat of the season.

By the end of 1921 Netherthong were in 9th. position having played 15, winning 7 and drawing 1 for a total of 15 points. The first game of the new year was a 2-2 draw at Hade Edge. The return  fixture at Netherthong  saw another home loss   by 2-1. Netherthong did the double over St. Johns Institute winning 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.

8 of the team’s  players were also members of Netherthong  WMC and they were : J.Hobson, H.Swallow, L.Scholfield, A.Preston, F.Harper, J.Shore, W.Mallinson and C.Gill.

 A loss to Hepworth United away by 3-0 was followed by a 2-2 draw at home ( R.Wood and N.Kaye scorers ). Netherthong 2 ( R.Hoyle) drew with HolmeBridge but lost the return at Holme bridge by 0-3. They put 6 away against Farnley Tyas with  J.Harrison, G.Henshaw, A.Wimpenny  and A. Charlesworth scoring..

 Netherthong 3 ( N.Bailey, G.Harrison, W.Harker ) beat Dunford Bridge who only played with 8 men as the rest didn’t turn up. In the return match with Dunford fielding a full team they avenged their defeat winning 3-1.

The last two games of the season were against Birdsedge. Netherthong drew the first game at home 2-2 with N.Kaye and G.Renshaw scoring but lost the return at Birdsedge by 2-1 , L.Harrison being the scorer.

In the final table Netherthong finished 11th. out of 16 teams  having played 30 games, winning 11, losing 13 and drawing 6 for a total of 28 points. 

In August 1922, the Holmfirth & District AFC confirmed that there would be 15 teams in the league with each club playing 28 games and the season would start on September 3rd. and finish on March 4th. 1923. The general format was that the teams would play each other twice home and away on consecutive weeks. The Express had many column inches devoted to the start of the football season and its reporter gave his forecasts on the results of the opening games. He had Netherthong to beat Dunford Bridge which they duly did by winning 3 goals to 1, Goldthorpe, Kaye and Mills were the scorers. They drew the return at Dunford 2-2 with N.Kaye and A.Mills again scoring.

Netherthong 4 ( Hinchliffe, F.Hunter, N.Kaye and A.Mills ) beat Birdsedge YMCA and also won the return game 2-1 with Hunter and Kaye scoring. In the two games against Farnley Tyas, Netherthong did the double  by winning the first 2-0 with N.Kaye and A.Mills scoring and the return 3-0 with J.Renshaw ( 2) and F.Hinchliffe making their mark.

   At this stage of the season after 6 games, Netherthong were unbeaten and in 2nd. place unfortunately this run did not continue as they lost both their games against New Mill by 3-2 and 2-0.

 In October the Netherthong  AFC held a successful whist drive and dance in the National School. The prizes for the whist were presented by C.S.Floyd, the president of the Club. Supper followed and then dancing until 11.30pm.

 At the meeting of the Holmfirth & District League of club representatives, many of the items on the agenda concerned the quality etc of the referees. The  Netherthong club wrote complaining about the inefficiency of a referee in a recent game but as the official concerned was not present, the committee agreed it was not fair to deal with the matter. The punishment  of players who had committed various offenses  in the  field was dealt with at the monthly meetings of the West Riding Reported Players’ Commission. M.Kaye of Netherthong was suspended for 4 weeks and fined 2s 6d for kicking.

 Scholes beat Netherthong 1 – 0 and  also won the away game 3-2 with R.Hodgson and J.Coldwell scoring. J.Hinchliffe was transferred  to Meltham United. 

Netherthong 3 ( F.Hunter, N. Bailey , A.Mills) Burnlee 0 . Next was a 2-2 draw against Hade Edge ( F.Hunter, A.Wimpenny )  followed by a 3-0 victory over St.Johns Institute .

The intrepid reporter commented “ Netherthong are showing fine form just now. Others beware”

Much to the concern of the Holmfirth League, the local clubs had little option but to be in the Huddersfield Groom Cup which played havoc with the fixtures. In the first round  of this cup, Netherthong beat SSOB by 3-0 with Hunter, Kayes and Mills scoring and also beat Buxton Road 4-0 in another cup match.

Back in the league Netherthong had a goal less draw with Holme Bridge. W.Green transferred  from Wooldale Wanderers.


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