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- On this day in 1889....
“this match was played in the Dallow-lane, Luton, on Saturday. The ground was covered with snow, but nevertheless a good game was witnessed. The visitors played a very good game, and were particularly strong in the back division. Small, Barrett, Wright and Humphrey did not turn up for the local club, and the Town team was made up of several of the Montrose club, who played well. The game was evenly contested throughout the first half neither team gaining any material advantage until nearly half-time, when the visitors got the ball up against the Lutonians goal, and although Read repulsed them twice, they managed to put it through. When the teams changed over, the home team commenced to press their opponents, and, in fact, did so for the remainder of the game. Deacon sent in a hot shot, which the goalkeeper caught but before he could get it away Spratley was on him, and the pair went through the goal with the ball underneath, thus making the score even. Nothing further was scored, although Luton had hard lines for several goals, Spratley and Deacon sending in three shots each in as many minutes which just missed the post, while Miles from the left wing sent in a half-a-dozen which just crept over the bar or went behind. The game ended in a draw, with one goal each.”
Note the charge by Spratley to score. Goalkeepers punched the ball whenever possible as to hold onto it attracted charging by one or more forwards, and as in this case, with serious consequences.
The Times goes on;
“A second team of the town club went to London on Saturday to play against the Upton Excelsior at West Ham Park, and, although playing on strange ground, they returned victorious, beating their opponents by two goals to nil”.
“While a match while a match was being played at Dallow-lane between the Luton Town Club and the Waverley Club, of London, the captain of the visitors’ team, a young man named Holmes, met with a somewhat severe accident. It appears that he was struck in the back by the elbow of another player, which caused some injury to the kidneys. On leaving the field he remained for some time at the Midland Hotel, where Mr Sanby paid every attention to him, but it was deemed advisable to remove him to the Hospital later in the evening. After being admitted there he was very ill indeed, but under the care of Dr. Sworder he is now rapidly improving. The Waverley men frankly acknowledged that the affair was entirely an accident, and that no blame attaches to anyone.
Samuel Denman Sanby was the hotel keeper and had been made bankrupt the previous year.
The Luton Reporter adds some more detail;
“In the match in Dallow-lane, Luton between the Luton and Waverley teams, Deacon, in turning sharp round to shy at the goal, collided against one of the opposing half-backs, George Hawkes, and winded him. He went off the field for ten minutes, but afterwards returned and played until the finish. It was afterwards found that he was injured internally, and he was taken to Bute Hospital, where he still remains, but will be able to leave by Saturday, as he is not injured so much as was first thought. Concerning the accident, the secretary of the Waverley club writes, “I am glad to say that the affair was purely accidental, and no blame attaches to anyone. The remainder of the team throughly enjoyed themselves, and hope to repeat their visit next season. The Secretary requests the thanks of the team may be conveyed to Mr Sanby, of the Midland Hotel, for his kindness on behalf of the injured gentleman”.
The Town Club were clearly trying to pre-empt any hasty judgments and rebukes by the local press anxious to point to the dangers and savagery of football while at the same time playing down, or not reporting, any cricket accident or injury.
Gate money for 12th jan was 3/6. Expenses of Upton match £2 1s 8d.
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