|It was not at all unusual, during the days of the War Emergency League, for teams to arrive at grounds without a full complement of players. It was also not unusual for them to borrow spare players or even make appeals over the tannoy for anyone who would be able to play. In this case, the Saints went to Leeds with several men shall we say, at risk of not turning up. At one stage they had just three threequarters ready for action, for one reason or another. They were helped by players materialising virtually out of nowhere for the cause, like winger Harold Forsyth. In the end, it was thirteen a side, although Saints had to borrow a Leeds player, Kelly, who was normally a forward, to play in the backs. |
The most surprising name on the team sheet, however, was as a result of sheer initiative! In Leeds, Albert Butler, the Saintsí full-back had met his brother in law, who used to play a bit of rugby in the junior leagues many years before. A sergeant in the Army, he duly stepped into the breach, although he had no training or practice as such. Premier, the famous St. Helens newspaper correspondent was fulsome in praise of this emergency player, adding in the match report that he played a quite magnificent game and was heartily cheered by the Leeds spectators for his efforts.
This is a marvellous tale and typical of the resourcefulness needed in those dark days. We now believe that the sergeant was Hugh Foster, the brother-in-law of Albert Butler. In 1939 he was living in Howard Avenue, Whiston and working as a Skilled Bottle Sorter. He died in St Helens in September 1970, aged 58. If anyone can provide further details we would like to hear from you.