Over the next few weeks I will be posting a number of articles about Liversedge Football Club. This is the first one.
Following its first season as members of the Northern Union, the Liversedge Football Club held its Annual General Meeting on Friday 12th June, 1896. The report given by the secretary, Mr J.E. Hampshire, published in the Cleckheaton Guardian on 19th June 1896 makes interesting reading.
Mr Hampshire said:
‘As you are all aware the past season has been a very peculiar and exceptional one. A new Union has been formed by twenty two of the best clubs in the North of England. The latest events have proved that it was a step in the right direction, and something that should have been done years ago. As we are situated today, each club connected with the Northern Union has a voice at headquarters and may have a representative there to defend anything that may be brought against his club, which was not the case under the old rules. I think I may venture to say that before five years today the Northern Union will be the only one in the North of England, and if we make the same rapid strides we have done this season less than that time will see all the clubs members of the new organisation. It is all very well and sounds large for such gentlemen as Mr Mark Newsome, Mr J.A. Miller, Mr H.H. Watson and Mr A. Hartley to talk about pure amateurism when they know perfectly well that there is no such thing in the Yorkshire Union. This season, if anyone will take the trouble to get one or all the balance sheets of the clubs connected with the Northern Union, I will be bound they will find that the expenses of players have been curtailed to the extent of £100 to £400, which speaks volumes for the new Union.’
Mr Hampshire's statement that all the clubs in the North of England would, within five years, join the Northern Union wasn't proved correct. The Yorkshire Rugby Football Union lost most of its leading clubs in 1895, but, over the next thirty years, new rugby union clubs were formed all over the county. The hopes of Northern Union pioneers like Mr Hampshire were not fulfilled, and the Northern Union did not expand at the same rate. Some new clubs joined but the numbers were small, and the next thirty years for the Northern Union was mainly about consolidation rather than rapid expansion. Many of the clubs that broke away did survive and prosper, but unfortunately Liversedge wasn't one of them. By 1900 the club was in severe difficulties and had to merge with Cleckheaton.