A chat with... Tom Halliwell

Tyldesley & Wigan





In glancing through the records of the old Tyldesley Football Club it is impossible to overlook the part which the adjacent districts of Boothstown and Astley played in providing good playing material for the team. Quite a number of Tyldesley's best players hailed from the two districts named, and it is interesting to note, on the other hand, that Tyldesley in turn furnished other clubs with several useful exponents of the game. Wigan, for instance, gained much solid advantage from the transference to their ranks of such capable Tyldesley players as Thomas Halliwell, James Barr, and the late Thomas Eckersley. This trio threw in their lot with Wigan a short time before their own club at Tyldesley terminated its existence, and they assisted in no small measure to lay the foundation of that proud reputation which Wigan gained and still hold in Northern Union circles.

One of the three, at all events, is able to claim that he assisted to win two Lancashire senior championships. We refer to Thomas Halliwell, of Hindsford, who was a playing member of the Tyldesley club when they won the Lancashire Cup in 1894-5, and was a forward in the Wigan side which achieved a like distinction at a later period. Halliwell began his football days with the Tyldesley Wanderers, and his story of his playing career is contained in the following statement -

"I began playing for Tyldesley Wanderers about 1889, and I had about four seasons with them. My position in the team was half-back. In the season 1893 a lot of the Tyldesley Club players were off work in consequence of the coal strike, and they used to have frequent practice games down at the ground. I played pretty often with them in these games, and subsequently Joseph Worthington, a member of the club and now in Canada, asked me if I would play for Tyldesley A if I was given a chance. I agreed to do so, and shortly afterwards the Committee put me on the reserve for the "A" team match against St. Helens at Well-st. Tyldesley "A" turned out a man short that day, and so I got my chance.

"I was included in the forwards, and I think I suited the Committee, for they put me on the "A" team for the rest of the season. In the following season I was well in the running for a place in the first team. There were three of us for two positions, viz., jimmy Roberts, Bob Berry, and myself. The other two got on the first team in the opening match of the season, but I was brought in later, and altogether I daresay I played in 15 first team matches that season. That was the year in which Tyldesley won the Lancashire Cup, and I should think I played in ten matches for them in that competition. I was on the reserve for our side when they won the deciding match against St. Helens on Good Friday, 1895, but I played in the last League match against Broughton on Easter Monday.

"After that I was a regular playing member of the first team until I finished my time with them in 1900-1. I played about eight years with Tyldesley, and I had six years with Wigan after that. I went to Wigan at the invitation of my old colleague, Elijah Prescott, and in the season I joined them they won the Lancashire Cup. They were then paying at Springfield Park.

"In the following year we removed to a new field, the Central Park ground, and our first match there was against Batley. I got two tries in that match, and I had thus the honour of scoring the first try which was registered in a League match on the new Wigan ground. I went on playing regularly with Wigan forwards until my last season with them. Then they brought down some Welshmen, and I was put on the reserve. There were three other Tyldesley lads in the Wigan team at the time I was a member, these being "Tommy" Whittaker, James Barr, an the late Thomas Eckersley.

"Amongst the "crack" players who were my colleagues in the Wigan team, were James Sharrock, James Leytham, and Dick Ramsdale. I remember one remarkable match we played whilst I was with Tyldesley. We were down to play Hunslet away, and notwithstanding the fact that we could only raise half a team we won the match. Some of our regular players were injured, the brothers Berry were off for some reason, and reserve men had to be brought in to fill the vacancies. We had two reserve half-backs in J.T. Fearnley and J. Miller. Every man played well that day, however, and we just won by a try to nothing. That try was obtained by Alf. Smith, and he got it by sheer strength. He picked up four yards from the Hunslet line, and literally fought his way through a crowd of opponents.

"One of the hardest games I remember was when Tyldesley met Broughton Rangers in the second round of the Northern Union Cup competition at Well-st. "Buff" Berry had been hurt the previous week, and James Miller was put in his pace. Broughton had two notable half-backs in Joe Nelson and messenger, and they played well together. We gave the Rangers a hard game, however, and it was a very lucky try which they won by, and which knocked us out of the competition for that year.

"In the season that we won the Lancashire Cup, James Bancroft was our full-back. The match which settled the championship was against St. Helens at Tyldesley on Good Friday 1895. I was on the reserve and a spectator that day. I remember, however, that Bancroft got his finger hurt during the game, but he stuck to his post and finished the game. When the match was over it was found that he had been playing with a broken finger."

With utmost thanks of course to Mike Latham for the source material