Willenhall History Society

The Picks

The story of Willenhall Pickwicks Football Club

1884 – 1916

Researched and written by Horace and Peter Davis

Chapter 5 THE LAST YEARS IN THE WALSALL AND DISTRICT LEAGUE

In season 1904-05 Picks maintained their improved form in the league and ended the season in seventh place in an enlarged league. Their record for the season was: -

P

W

L

D

F

A

Points

26

12

11

3

46

45

27

This season they were joined by local rivals Willenhall Swifts who had moved over from the Wolverhampton and District League to join them after having finished as champions of that league on the last three consecutive seasons. This gave the clubs two mouth watering local Derbys the first of which on October 29th 1904 when the two clubs clashed before a large gathering at Portobello with the Picks winning comfortably by 3-0. The return game took place on the Wakes ground on December 31st and Picks, although handicapped by an injury to Robinson that reduced them to 10 men, maintained their superiority, winning by two clear goals.

On October 1st Picks met and defeated Bilston United by 2-0 in the Semi-final of the Bilston Charity Cup, the goals coming from H. Cooper and Brookes. This brought them against Wednesbury Old Athletic in the Final where a crowd of 5,000 saw them beaten by 4-1 on the Recreation Ground Bilston.

In the Staffs Junior Cup, victory over Ettingshall Church in the third round brought Picks face to face with the Swifts again in the fourth round and again they proved their superiority when a large crowd estimated at between two and three thousand on the Wakes Grounds saw them win by the odd goal of three, on January 7th 1905. The gap was closing. Ponder and Barnett scored for the Picks and Sanders for Swifts. On the following week, however, Bloxwich Strollers ended their run, winning 3-0 at Bloxwich.

On November 5th 1904 it was announced that Picks promising young full back, Gus Adams, had joined Walsall .

Picks aspirations in the Wolverhampton Charity Cup ended in the fourth round on January 28th 1905 when they were beaten at home by Bilston United by two clear goals. In the third round they had decisively beaten Rushall Olympic by 4-1 the goals coming from Cooper, Haddon, Scotchbrook and Ponder.

In the Birmingham Junior Cup Picks travelled to Wednesfield Church Institute on December 3rd and once again bad behaviour by the spectators spoiled the game. Half way through the second half bad feeling began to creep in among the crowd. Several fights broke out and ten minutes from the end when Picks took the lead spectators invaded the pitch, there were fights in the middle and the game was abandoned. What the outcome was we do not know but Picks went on to reach the Semi-final where on February 25th they travelled to Atherstone where they forced a goal-less draw with the United. The referee ordered extra time to be played but Picks refused to do so and were thus eliminated from the competition.

Success came Picks way, however, in the Wednesbury Charity Cup and this proved to be the first cup success the club had achieved for several seasons. They defeated Rowley United at Portobello on November 26th by 4-2 on a snow covered pitch in the third round. Bridgetown Amateurs were their next victims in the fourth round when they came to Portobello on February 11th and were beaten by 2-0. A brace from Robinson was sufficient to win the game. The following week saw them matched against St. Georges Victoria in the Semi-final at Bilston when a solitary goal from Cooper saw them safely to the Final where their opponents were to be their old adversaries Darlaston. The game was played on the Lloyd Street ground Wednesbury on March 25th and a large crowd saw the Picks win a closely fought game by three goals to two. The goals came from Cooper 2 and Barnett. The Picks line up for the game was:-

Goal, Craddock; Backs, Simmons, Haddon; Half Backs, Belcher Robinson, Wootton; Forwards, Barnett, Cooper, Eccleston, Scotchbrook and Mason:

Before the game the crowd were entertained by The Crown Tube Works Band and at the end the cup was presented to the Picks captain in the grandstand by Mr. A. Bird, the prospective Conservative candidate for Wednesbury.

On February 18th it was announced that Mr. Jack Langford the club's joint secretary would be leaving the area soon to take up an appointment in Birmingham . He had served the club as player, Committee Member and Secretary for 14 years and in recognition of his services to the club he was elected an Honorary life member. Mr. Charles Hobley would take over the role of Secretary. At this stage the club's financial position had improved considerably and they now only had a deficit of £11.2s. on the season’s working.

For the 1905-06 season Mr. Charles Hobley was confirmed as Secretary and Mr Randle Hobley was appointed as the club's treasurer. Levi Johnson continued in the post of President and on November 18th 1905 it was announced that Charles Hobley would also be taking over as licensee of the Shakespeare Inn. Robinson was appointed captain for the season. He had joined the club during the previous season and was to remain a regular for some seasons. As Picks fortunes on the field improved, so the crowds flocked back to Portobello and on the opening day of the season, September 2 nd, a crowd estimated at 3,000 saw Picks beat Bilston United decisively by 3-1. The game must have been an explosive one for it resulted in 2 players, Cooper of Picks and Foster of Bilston being sent off. Picks goals came from Cartwright, Cooper and Franks. The full line up being:-

Goal, T. Wilkes; Backs, Archer, Wilkins; Half Backs, Belcher, Robinson, Mills; Torwards, Cartwright, Cooper, Franks, Lockett and T.H. Wilkes:

A record 15 teams entered the league this season but Ironbridge were forced to withdraw as they were unable to find a suitable ground and on February 3rd, sadly, Walsall found it necessary to withdraw their Reserve team, the league thus finished with 13 teams. Cup success came early to the Picks this season when on October 7th they met Wednesbury Old Athletic in the Final of the Walsall Charity Cup at Darlaston and defeated them by 3-1 before a large crowd. Franks 2 and Wilkes scored for the winners. The following week they met Bilston United in the final of the Bilston Charity Cup at Wednesbury and defeated them by 4-1. The game was watched by a crowd of over 4,000. A protest was subsequently lodged by the losers who questioned the status of Picks goalkeeper Wilkes but this was overruled and Picks had added a second cup to their trophy cupboard even at this early stage.

An unusual situation arose on March 17th when Picks entertained Halesowen at Portobello. The visitors arrived with only nine men, the other two having been mislaid en route. The game was delayed for 20 minuted but when they still had not arrived the game started without them. Despite this Halesowen played well until the missing players, Dean and Cooper duly arrived and they managed to finish with a respectable draw 3 goals each. The Picks line up on this occasion was:-

Goal, Wilkes; Backs, Archer, Bouckley; Half Backs, Wootton, Robinson, Mills; Forwards, Ponder, Jones, Franks, Pagett and Legge:

Picks continued to play steadily throughout the season and finished in a respectable fifth place. Their record for the season was.

P

W

L

D

F

A

Points

26

14

9

3

56

46

31

In addition to the Walsall and Bilston Charity cups won earlier in the season Picks also won the Wolverhampton Charity Cup, beating Cannock Town by 5-­0 in the final at Wednesbury on April 26th 1906 before a crowd of 2,000.

Undoubtedly, however, one of highlights of the season was Picks visit to the Swifts new ground at Spring Bank on October 28th 1905 when they won a closely contested game by the odd goal of three. One follower of the game got so carried away that he waxed lyrical and the result of his efforts was the following poem that was published in the Express and Star on November 1st.

A football match, Picks versus Swifts,

Like mad the news flashed round,

two local teams were billed to meet,

upon the Swifts new ground.

The citizens of lockland,

rushed to the field in throngs.

Some went without their dinners,

but didn’t forget their lungs.

 

A clinking run, a rasping shot.

Looked like a certain score,

Picks goal was missed by inches,

Oh didn’t the people roar.

Half time arrived with no goals scored,

Picks partisans looked blue.

for the Swifts were having frightful luck,

or must have put one through.

 

The last half proved a ding dong fight,

the Pickwick scoring two,

But the plucky Swifts were not yet whacked,

for they popped a beauty through.

At length the finish came, 2-1.

The Swifts had not done bad,

and when the whistle blew full time,

me thinks the Picks were glad.

S.E.

At the Annual Meeting prior to the start of the 1906-7 season Picks were able to announce that the previous season's deficit had been cleared and they now had a total amount of £16 in hand with which to start the season. During the summer the enclosure had received careful attention and had been properly fenced round with tubing through strong posts.

For this season another local team in the shape of Short Heath United joined the Walsall and District League, but for Picks it was to be their last season in this competition before they moved on to better things. At the start of the season two local players, Joe Edge and "Tippy" Holt joined the club and would make their mark. Holt had previously played for Willenhall Juniors and Edge had earlier had a spell with the now defunct Albion . Twelve teams contested the league this season and Picks finished a modest 6th. Their record for the season was.

P

W

L

D

F

A

Points

22

9

9

4

51

51

22

They faired better in cup competitions, however, where an early start saw them reach the finals of both the Walsall and Bilston Charity cup but in both cases they failed to carry off the trophy. In the Final of the Walsall Charity Cup they met Bilston United at Darlaston on October 6th 1906 and a crowd numbering 5,000 saw them go down by the odd goal of three.

In the Bilston Charity Cup they reached the final after having disposed of Wednesbury Old Athletic in the Semi-final but they needed two attempts. The first game, played at Wednesbury on September 29th ended in a draw with the teams sharing six goals. In the replay at Portobello played on Monday October 8th Picks won convincingly by an amazing eight goals to three. On the following Saturday Picks, who were the holders, travelled to Bilston full of confidence to take on Bilston United but to the surprise of everyone were soundly defeated by 5-1. It must be said in their favour, however, that they were handicapped by an injury to Cooper that resulted in them having to resort to the one back game.

Success came Picks way in the Walsall Junior Cup that they were to win for the fifth time. Picks did not come into the competition until the third round and they then found themselves drawn to play new club Short Heath United away on January 12th 1907 . It was reported that a record gate for the ground saw Picks win by 4-1, the goals coming from Holt 2, Cartwright and Shingler. The next round saw Picks come up against Hednesford Town at Portobello on February 9th on what was described as a very slippy pitch. The game ended in a draw one goal each, but the game was marred by crowd trouble. It seems that the spectators were not happy with some of referee Taylor 's decisions and at the end of the game they swarmed on to the pitch and an ugly scene developed with mud being thrown at the referee. The Picks Committee assisted by Police Constable Payne, managed to get the referee to the safety of the dressing room. The Walsall F.A. were not too happy and at a subsequent enquiry, they ordered the ground to be closed for 14 days from February 19th and the Picks to pay £1 towards the costs of the enquiry, furthermore the game was ordered to be replayed at Cannock on March 9th where Picks won a fiercely contested game by 6-5.

A crowd of 1,000 saw Cannock Town defeated in the Semi-final at Bloxwich on Monday April 1st to give Picks a mouth watering final against Willenhall Swifts at Portobello on April 13th. The game proved to be something of an anti climax for a large crowd who saw Picks win easily by 4-0 with all four goals coming from Holt. His performance was such that at the end of the game the spectators swarmed on to the pitch and carried him shoulder high from the ground.

Picks and Swifts were to clash again this season in a final for they both fought their way to the final of the Wolverhampton Charity Cup but this time the game was to be played on Swifts new ground at Spring Bank on April 27 th. Following their easy win in the final of the Walsall Junior Cup hopes of a double over their rivals from the other end of the town ran high in the Picks camp, but the first match proved inconclusive when another large crowd saw the teams draw 2-2. The Picks won the replay at Portobello 3 days later by the huge score of 8-0, Holt getting 4 of the goals Edge 2 and Perry and Spencer 1 each.

In the Staffordshire Junior Cup the Picks disposed of Cannock Town by 6-2 and West Cannock Colliery by 5-2 before going down to St George 's Victoria in the fifth round. The first game played at Portobello on November 17th resulted in the teams sharing four goals but in the replay on Monday November 26th they went down by 4-3. This was one trophy the Picks had yet to win.

In the Wednesbury Charity Cup Picks fell at the first hurdle being beaten 2-0 by Hednesford Town on February 9th 1907 .

On Tuesday April 30th 1907 Picks found themselves having to play two games on the same day in order to complete their league fixtures. One team visited St George's whilst the other entertained Brownhills Albion at Portobello. Included in the Picks side to play Brownhills was veteran Billy Southall who had made his debut 17 years earlier in 1890. Billy crowned a fine display by scoring two goals in a closely fought 3-2 defeat.

At the end of the 1906-07 season Picks together with Bilston United, Darlaston and Wednesbury Old Athletic said good-bye to the Walsall and District League. For the Picks it meant an end to a 14 year association with that organisation which had brought with it much success but it was time to move on. During the summer the four clubs successfully applied to the Birmingham Junior League for membership, but the Swifts, who apparently were not aware of the decision of their rivals to move on, would have to stay another year. This caused some feeling from the Swifts who would of course lose most of their lucrative local derbys and it was stated that the Swifts felt they had been boycotted.

RETURN TO PICKS INDEX

Originally published in book form by Willenhall History Society 1994

©Willenhall History Society