|William Smith by SHS |
Christmas Day and New Year matches pre-World War One, are not always covered in detail in the local newspapers. Looking for evidence of different players at these times can be near-impossible. Yet in the St. Helens Reporter, there is an intriguing match report for the game against York [01-01-1909], when a player with a familiar name, but unfamiliar initial is mentioned. This is the same for the St. Helens Newspaper too, for the same match report. The Reporter lists the Saints’ forward pack as: Briers, Prescott, Helsby, Hornby, W. Smith and C. Pennington.
We know the ‘C’ is for Cuddy Pennington, but the ‘W’ in Smith indicates a player who has made just one appearance for the seniors. He is not to be confused with long-time forward [and occasional full-back] Jack Smith, who played in the early part of the 1908-09 campaign. But looking at the Players’ Registers, we see that W. Smith is actually William Smith, of Stockton Heath. He was actually signed on by the club on 10th November 1908 and drafted in for the York match.
The Saints lost 0-16 in York and were, according to the press, well-beaten. After all, they had made a 100 mile railway journey and the prospect of an hour and a half’s mud-larking was not to everybody’s taste. The York pitch had been frozen over Christmas, but had since thawed rapidly. The St. Helens Reporter added wryly: “Probably the Saints thought only of getting the match over, and nobody can scarcely blame them”. We do not know what happened to William after his one senior appearance. A Team match reports are quite rare and do not favour too many mentions for the forwards. If anyone has any further information, we would like to hear from you.