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SHORT HISTORY OF PRESTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL OLD BOYS' F.C.

BY E. WALTERS

(Published in the January 1948 edition of The Hoghtonian)

With their concluding match on the 17th April, the Old Boys will have completed the 27th season in the history of the Club. There are records covering four seasons prior to the war of 1914-18, and twenty-two from the revival in 1925, onwards. (But see Editor's Note below).

There is nothing to show how the side that first took the field as Preston G.S.O.B. on that far-off day in 1910 was made up, and the summary of the first season, to be found in "The Old Boys' Magazine " for 1911, is somewhat sketchy. We are informed that "The two matches against the School were lost by four goals to three", and, later on, "The secretary holds out hopes of a victory before the end of the season."

The only team whose name appears on the fixture list of those placid days before 1914, and also on that of 1946-47, is Wigan G.S.O.B., but the clubs have had few meetings in the intervening period. Other opponents met in those early years were Catholic College Old Boys, Ashton-on-Ribblc, Blackpool Secondary School O.B., Hutton Old Boys, Kirkham Old Boys, Old Rivingtonians, Horwich Amateurs, Fairhaven and Whittingham. Of those clubs, only the first and the last are in existence now. Blackpool SS Old Boys lingered on until 1926, after having changed their name to Old Blackpoolians, but thereafter the rugby code was adopted at the Secondarv School and the soccer team ceased to operate.

Revived in 1925, Preston G.S. Old Boys F.C. played Club matches only for a season or two, before trying their strength in competitions; the Lancashire Amateur Cup in 1928, the Lancashire Amateur League (Northern Section) in 1930, and the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1931. The first clubs to be met in these competitions were respectively \Vest Didsbury, who won 7-3 at Fishwick; Baines' G.S.O.B. (Poultou-le-Fylde), beaten 8-2 at Fishwick, and Old Xaverians, with whom a drawn game, 3-3 after extra time, was played at Liverpool.

The club that has provided the opposition more often than any other is Old Blackburnians - in 36 games altogether. The period of club matches to 1929 produced six victories over the Blackburn side and one draw, in ten games. Between 1930 and 1939 there were eighteen meetings in the league, of which 14 were won by Preston and two drawn. Since the league resumed operations in 1945, Old Blackburnians have strongly asserted themselves, having won four matches out of five, with one drawn.

Against Burnley G.S.O.B., ten club matches (to 1929) and eighteen league games (1930 to 1939) were played. The clubs had met altogether twelve times before Preston gained their first victory over Burnley, which took place at Lowerhouse on 24th September 1932. Of the eighteen league games up to the outbreak of war, nine were won by Preston, and four drawn. The most memorable match of the whole series was played at Towneley Holmes, Burnley, on 27th April 1935, when Preston G.S.O.B. won an exciting game by 4-3, and so gained the Northern Section championship for the first time.

Over the years 1930 to 1939 the closest games were usually those against Old Farnworthians. Of the twenty matches between the teams during those nine seasons (including two cup-ties), six were drawn, with 0 - 0 and 1 - 1 as typical scores; three of the Old Boys' eight victories were by a single goal margin, and four of their six defeats were just as narrow.

The most troublesome team to the Old Boys during the same period was Bury G.S.O.B., against whom the Old Boys had an unfavourable record; the only other team to claim a balance of victories over the Old Boys in league games was Nelson Town. Old Boys records:-

P.W.D.L.
v. Bury G.S.O.B.19739(includes one Cup-tie)
v. Nelson Town4103(1937-8-9)

Against "local rivals" in the league, the Old Boys have had considerable success. Catholic College Old Boys managed to snatch a draw, 0 - 0, in one game, but were beaten in all the others. Preston Junior Tech. School O.B. achieved one win and three draws, but were beaten four times.

Out of thirty opponents, only two, Bury Amateurs and Wigan G.S.O.B., have not been beaten at some time by the Old Boys in a league game; teams who have been beaten no more than once in such meetings are Nelson Town (5 - 1), Old Mancunians (6 - 0), Manchester Y.M.C.A. (4 - 3), Blackburn Technical College (5 - 2), Bolton Wyresdale (2 - 1) and Fulwood (1 - 0).

Starting with one team in 1925, the Old Boys built up to two in 1926, and to three in 1929; in 1936-37 and the two following seasons the number of playing-members was so great that an Extra Third XI was called into being.

The First XI won the Northern Section (L.A.L.) championship twice - in 1934-35 and 1938-39; in the course of this second success only one league match was lost, and that 'away', to Nelson Town. In 1938-39 too, the Old Boys' Second XI won the Northern Section Second Division Championship.

During the war of 1939-45, the Old Boys reverted to club matches for one season, (1939-40), and afterwards competed in the Preston and District Y.M.C.A. League. Among the teams met under Y.M.C.A. League auspices were Fulwood (10 games), Leyland Motors (six), Whittingham C.M.H. (eleven) and Chorley (one). Few of these games were won, the best performances having been v. Fulwood (3 - 1, on Nov. 23rd, 1940) v. Leyland Motors (3 - 3 on Jan. 18th 1941, and 11 - 5 on Mar. 8th, 1941), v. Whittingham (2 - 1 on Nov. 29th, 1941).

Records of Cup-ties show that the Old Boys have had extraordinarily poor luck in the draws. As compared with five home draws, they have been called upon nineteen times to travel - eight times to Liverpool grounds, five times to the Manchester district and once as far as Whitehaven. They have never taken part in a cup-tie against a "local rival".

The series of Club Matches with Fulwood from 1925 to 1939 at times showed the Old Boys' weakness, and at other times their good fighting spirit. In 1925-26 and the two following seasons, these matches were played on Saturdays, and the Old Boys lost the six games, all by heavy margins except the last, on the 24th March, 1928, when the score was 3 - 5. 1928-29 found the Old Boys giving a more satisfactory account of themselves; in the two evening games on Sept. 10th and April 23rd, they won (3 - 1) and drew (2 - 2). Then after a season in which the teams did not meet, the following evening games were played, the Old Boys at this stage, again falling behind their enterprising opponents:-

1930-31April 30thawaylost 3 - 4
1931-32Sept. 9thawaylost 2 - 3
1932-33May 2ndhomelost 1 - 4

In the next six seasons there was only one meeting - on Saturday, Nov. 28th, 1936, at the Junior Tech. School O.B.'s ground, Riverside, where Fulwood won decisively by 4 - 1. The last of these Club Matches took place in season 1939-40, and on successive Saturdays, Oct. 14th, and 21st the contest swung back in the Old Boys' favour with a draw (3 - 3) and a win (5 - 2).

Other interesting series of Club Matches were those with Liverpool University, Liverpool Ramblers and Hesketh Park.

Editor's Note (23 March 2015)

The subsequent edition of the Hoghtonian, published in Summer 1948, included the following letter from C. S. Watt.

"You will be interested to learn that the Club was first formed in the season 1906-07 at a meeting of Old Boys held in the "Court Cafe", Lancaster Road, the writer being appointed Secretary and R. Howarth, Treasurer. The agreed annual subscription was 5/-.

Lord Derby kindly consented to be President of the Club. In our first season, we played our home matches on the School ground at the rear of the Bridge Inn, Penwortham, but later we leased a pitch situated between the Grasshoppers' ground and Old Tram Bridge.

Searching through some old papers I have found the complete fixture list for Season 1907-08, giving the results of the first nine matches played in that season, together with teams and scorers. Unfortunately I can find no records of the matches played in 1906-07. I have also found a few notes taken at a meeting held in the Court Cafe on the 17th September 1907. There is also a draft of a letter sent to our President, Lord Derby.

My most interesting possession is a photograph taken in 1906 outside the Pavilion on the Catholic day College ground, and, (if I remember rightly) it was the occasion of our first match. We played in School Colours.

The players for Season 1907-08 were:- Cumpstey, Cooksey, Grime, Harding, Vaughan, Worthington, Watkinson, Howarth, Oldfield, Pilkington, Mullineaux, Houghton, Hodgkinson , Woods, Rhodes, Rawcliffe, Watt.

I hope these few notes, papers and photograph will be of interest, and worthy of inclusion in your records.

We were fairly successful as a team, and I shall always remember the happy times we spent together both on and off the field.

Here's wishing the Club Good Luck and Success in the years to come.

Yours very truly

C. S. Watt"

On the assumption that Watt knew what he was talking about (which is reasonable) Walters' total of seasons is 4 short (1906-07, 1907-08, 1908-09, 1909-10) and should read 31.

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