|Charlie Hopley by Alex Service |
It appears that Charlie Hopley was born in February 1875 in St. Helens. He lived in Morley Street, originally and his father in the 1891 census is described as an engine fitter. Given his date of birth it seems he would be of a rather tender age to have made his Saints’ debut, as a threequarter against Birkenhead Wanderers in the first-ever season at Knowsley Road, on 14th March 1891.
The 1901 Census tells us that Charlie lived with his wife, Alice in Wilcock Street, St. Helens and was 26 years of age. Alice was three years older and from Bethnal Green in London. Charlie worked as a pattern maker in an iron foundry, presumably following on in the industry from his father and continued to play rugby when Saints entered the breakaway Northern Union in 1895-96. Charlie came into the team for three consecutive matches, the first being selection in the left centre position for the match against Brighouse in Yorkshire, on 4th January 1896. His winger was the sprinter Tom Sudlow. When the Saints signed Billy Jacques from Hull, the new man took up that left centre role for the rest of the campaign.
Charlie’s last match was on the 18th January, when the Saints went down 3-18 at Stockport. The 1911 census has him living in Prescot and in 1939 we know that he resided in Scotsbarn Lane, Prescot. He passed away in December 1950, aged 75. Charlie must be one of the youngest players in the Saints’ long history.