Bill Derbyshire


Date unknown.
Liverpool Stanley
30-10-1948 v Halifax
1948- Liverpool Stanley
1 (0)


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Bill Derbyshire by SHS

Bill Derbyshire was an open-side prop who played one match for the Saints against Halifax in October 1948. He was actually on trial from Liverpool Stanley at the time. Tall, weighing about 13 and a half stones, he was 22 when he came albeit briefly to Knowsley Road. In 1939 he was living in Croppers Hill, St Helens and wS still at school. It is presumed he returned to Stanley, but any further information regarding this player would be welcome. Bill died in St Helens in November 1989, aged 65.

‘Derbyshire’ by Adrian Lawrenson

This particular player is a researchers’ nightmare! On the face of it, a player called Derbyshire made one final appearance for Saints against Halifax as a prop-forward on 30th October 1948 in an 8-5 victory. Now, it is well-documented that Bill Derbyshire, together with Bill Riley, left Liverpool Stanley to play for Warrington. The initial reaction was that this was Bill Derbyshire, himself having atrial with Saints. On the face of it, a reasonable assumption. Not so! Further research told us that Bill Derbyshire played for Wires in the 1948, 1949 and 1951 Championship finals, together with the 1950 Challenge Cup final. So I think this rules him out of coming for a trial to a St Helens side that was not at Warrington’s level in 1948.

It would seem that Liverpool Stanley possessed another prop-forward also called Derbyshire [was he Billy’s brother?] who played against Saints home and away in 1948. Saints were looking for a front-rower and signed Dicky Jones from Swinton, so the Derbyshire option was not taken up.

His game in the first team came the week after an ‘A’ team game where, according to the programme, he had been part of a pack of forwards that had got the lion’s share of the ball in a 18-18 draw with Wigan ‘A’.

In the 1949-50 season, Derbyshire, who went back to Stanley, played in both league games against Saints. And just to muddy the waters even more, Bill Riley, who signed for Wires with Bill Derbyshire, had a team-mate called Frank Riley, who had played for Saints. A veritable minefield indeed!

Further research details by SHS

The Liverpool Echo, for 30th October 1948 might provide further clues: “J A Derbyshire, Stanley’s 15 stone signing from Clock Face has been given permission to play trials with St Helens.”

The St Helens Reporter is the next port of call. The edition for 26th October talks about a trialist prop forward playing and scoring a try against Wigan ‘A’ at Knowsley Road. “The prop has some rugby league experience. He has played trials elsewhere, but, being a local lad wants to play for St Helens.” It should be noted at this time that Saints had placed front-rower Jonty Pilkington on the transfer list and had brought in another prop, RWT Jones, from Swinton. The trialist in question was given a mention in the Reporter on 29th October, before a first team outing against Halifax at Knowsley Road: “He is on the books of Liverpool Stanley and there is hope that he may fill the breach, although he is only 22 or 23 and not over 14 stones, nor of lengthy experience.”

The Saints went on to beat Halifax in a close-fought affair. Before the game, the teams were presented to the Club’s President, Lord Derby, so the occasion had a particular significance for the young debutant. Alas, he was not signed on by the club. The correspondent called ‘Recorder’ stated that: “He is quite an active player and he stood up to the scrum gruelling. I think the Directors will have to look for a larger and more experienced prop.” And that was that. James or Jimmy [we think!] returned to Liverpool Stanley and a case of what might have been.


Season (Official Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches
1948~49 0 0 0 1
TOTALS:0 0 0 1
Season (Other Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches


30th Oct 1948
8 Halifax L 1948~49 H 8 5 VIEW
*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.

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