Lancelot Todd

An interview from 1908

Lance Todd gave an interview with the Wigan Examiner, and it featured in the 14th April, 1908 edition.

L. B. Todd.

A Football Celebrity

An evening contemporary had the following interesting interview with L. B Todd, the clever centre three-quarter, of New Zealand, who is now assisting Wigan: --

Lancelot Beaumont Todd made a football reputation for himself during the last onth of the New Zealand "All Blacks'" tour. Since he joined the Wigan club his doings have fairly earned him his place among the famous players of the season. His career is best told by himself:--

"I was born at Otahuhu, Auckland, twenty-four years ago, and can say that I was brought up in a real sporting atmosphere, for my two elder brothers were connected with football and my father was a great enthusiast, and from the time I could toddle about I myself held great admiration for football and football players.

"Perhaps I should date my first real introduction to the game from the time when I was ten years of age. Then I took part in the school competitions for two seasons, but at thirteen I joined the Otahuhu club, and played scrummage half. My next move was to college, where I went into the three-quarter line, but when I was seventeen my father asked me if I desired to play real class football, and, being willing, I went into town to play for the Suburbs club. I played in their grade all through the competition of season 1901, starting as centre three-quarter, but finishing up in the junior outside half-back in all the junior representative games of that season.

"In 1902 I started first-grade football, but had the misfortune to break my collar-bone. This meant six weeks' rest, and when I returned, during my first game I had the bad luck to again fracture the collar-bone. On the second occassion I was off seven weeks, so that for the season of 1902 I had thirteen weeks off through injuries. The docor warned me that if I desired to get on I must allow the bones to thoroughly set, and he advised me seriously to have a whole season's 'rest'. I took his advice, and during our football season of 1903 I was a spectator keeping myself in condition by following the hounds and hunting."


"In season 1904 I was a regular member of the Suburbs first-grade team - the weakest side, by the way, in the copetition. I may now be said to have had my real start, for George Tyler, the 'All Black' of the 1905 combination and the captain of the City team, persuaded me to join his club. I played my first match with the second grade team in 1905, and was brought up to the seniors for the second match, displacing Peter Ward, the new Zealand International five-eigths.

I played outside half-back, and George W. Smith, now of Oldham, was our centre three-quarter. To 'Smithy' and Tyler I owe all my later success, for they taught me all I know. When the 'All Black' team left for England I secured Provincial honours, playing for Auckland in all the county games in 1905, including the contest for the Ranfurly Shield - the best football competition in New Zealand. In 1906 owing to the residential clause, I played for Parnell, and, as the Suburbs club had become extinct, my new team was the weakest in their competition, and we had little success. At the end of the season I went on tour to Australia with the Auckland City team, but in the second match my leg was injured and, blood poisoning setting in, I had to return to New Zealand.

"In 1907 I was still with the Parnell team who worked from the bottom to the third position in the competition I was still playing at outside half, when I received an offer to become a member of the 'All Black' team. My acceptance was, of course, only known to the promoters of the tour, but, although I was selected to play for Auckland, I madeup my mind, in view of my contemplated change, I would not play. For my refusal I was disqualified by the Auckland Amateur body for three years without having a hearing, which suspension, as you know, was later made into one for life, again without the option."


We next had a chat about his many notable football feats in New Zealand. In 1901 he was top scorer for his side. He made a record in the Cup competition of season 1905, by placing between 50 and 60 goals for Auckland City. In one match for the Suburbs he placed six.

We next turned to English football, and in reply to my question as to the Rugby professional game generally, Todd said:--

"Undoubtedly the feature of your game is the wonderfully fit condition Northern Union players are generally in. It was the one great surprise to our boys. The returned amateur All Blacks spoke very poorly of the Northern Union play and players generally, and we naturally thought we had more than an outside chance. I frankly confess that we were fairly staggered. Probably the old 'All Blacks' never saw a game, and had swallowed all they were told.

"As to the game itself, I still think it a great improvement o the old style, and cannot imagine anything better from a spectator's point of view. For the players it certainly demands more preparation, and I think the getting into condition is one of the essentials for success."

"Toddy" does not believe in special training, but supports a moderate view of everything. Although not a strict total abstiner himself he is firmly convinced of the benefits of temperance. Whilst not professing to be anything of a tutor, Todd advises a would-be player to always look for the line. This should be his object. If he cannot get it himself the policy to be adopted is plain: if the openingis not so clear then a centre's duty is to make it as easy as possible for someone else. This is for aggressive play. For defence Todd advises the tackler to watch the man with the ball. If the runner with the ball is supported, and the defender is faced by two men, endeavour to smother the ball - that is, to intercept when the pass is given. Care, however, must be exercised to prevent bluff. A player defending in this game must take no risk. He must be fearless to a degree, and must not hesitate to get down to a rush.

If the Northern Union teaches one thing more than another, says Todd, it is that the game is bound to be played until the final whistle is sounded, and attack in five cases out of six is the surest defence.

Todd helped Mr. Baskerville with his arrangements for the recent tour. Of the many stories he has to tell concerning the work I give this one for the first time. Says Todd:--

"I had secured a fine scrummager, who had come up from the country. He was a real find, and I got him to sign our agreement. All went well until the day we had decided to leave. The local Press were most anxious to have the names of the combination, and I had promised a newspaper friend of mine that he should have the whole lot at five o'clock. About noon my special capture cae to my office and said he was awfully sorry but he would not be able to go as promised. I naturally felt annoyed and disappointed, and asked for the reasons which had led to a change. Oh, replied my forward, I don't think it will suit me. I, however, knew my man, and told him if he wouldn't tell me the whole story I would expose him. He then told me he had received £70 to stay behind and continue his connection with the Amateur Union. This was enough, so I sent for Dunning, who was my 'reserve,' and told him he could come."