Bulldogs News

THE BULLDOGS FIRST WELSH LEAGUE TITLE – 1914/15 SEASON

Welsh League winners medal from 1914/15 has been shared with the Club

Welsh League winners medal 1914/15

The grandson of a former Ton Pentre player has contacted the Club via its official Twitter account – @TonPentreFC – to share a picture of a Welsh League championship medal from the 1914/15 season – presented 100 years ago.

The winners medal belonged to Bulldogs player Patrick Gallacher and his grandson Ian Gallacher, has also shared a picture of him from around 1911.

According to the history books, 1914/15 was the first time that Ton Pentre had won the Welsh League under the name as it is known to this day. Records suggest that the first time it was known as the Welsh League was in the 1912/13 season.

Patrick played for the Bulldogs both before and after World War I and had also played for Tottenham Hotspur, Luton Town and Partick Thistle.

During the War, Patrick was a member of the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. The core of the battalion was a group of professional footballers, which was the reason for its most commonly used name, The Football Battalion.

The following information is borrowed from Wikipedia:

During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association. SirArthur Conan Doyle publicly objected and appealed for footballers to volunteer for service, saying “If a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle”.

William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12 December 1914 at Fulham town hall after Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, suggested it as part of the Pals battalion scheme. England internationalFrank Buckley became the first player to join, out of thirty players who signed up at its formation. The formation was announced to the general public on 1 January 1915.

During Army training, the players were allowed leave on a Saturday to return to their clubs to take part in games. However, the clubs found themselves having to subsidise the train fares as the Army did not pay for them.

By the following March, 122 professional footballers had signed up for the battalion, which led to press complaints as there were some 1800 eligible footballers. These recruits included the whole of Clapton Orient (later to be known as Leyton Orient) – the entire Heart of Midlothian team had signed up prior to the formation of the battalion. In addition to footballers, officials and referees also joined the 17th, along with football fans themselves. Many football players deliberately chose to avoid the battalion by joining other regiments, causing the War Office to initially have difficulties filling the battalion.

Ian Gallacher is looking to find photos and information from around this time, if anyone is able to assist please contact the Club – tonpentreafc@aol.com.

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3 Comments on THE BULLDOGS FIRST WELSH LEAGUE TITLE – 1914/15 SEASON

  1. Many thanks for the article, we only know a few details on Patrick Gallacher’s time at Ton Pentre. He was born in 1881, in Glasgow. Around 1904 he played for Tottenham Hotspur, then in the following years Luton Town, Partick Thistle, Workington and then Barrow. At Workington and Barrow he was working in the shipyards during the week.

    Around 1914 Patrick joined Ton Pentre, being part of the Welsh League Champions 1914/15. He left to join the 17th Middlesex Regiment (Footballers’ Battalion), at the age of 33 he was one of the regiment’s runners. Initially Pat was the trainer for the team (and prepared the pitches), from later photos, he was in the team.

    In 1919 he returned to Ton Pentre, playing up to 1923.

    My Dad found this obituary from 1951, when he died, from a local Welsh paper:

    Mr. P. Gallacher, London.
     
    “A link with the old days of football in South Wales when Ton Pentre A.F.C. was an outstanding team in the valleys has been severed by the death at London of Mr. Pat Gallacher,  the former captain and centre-half of Ton Pentre and the idol of all Welsh football enthusiasts.
     
    Coming to Ton Pentre as a professional soccer player, he was given the captaincy and in this capacity, together with his sterling play at centre-half, he brought the team from obscurity to win the championship of the Welsh League and to annex the South Wales and Mon. Cup on several occasions.
     
    He was the inspiration of his side and, in each game, Pat was the dominant figure in the centre of the field.
     
    The elder football enthusiast can well recall the clashes between Pat at centre half and Egerton, the centre-forward of Mid-Rhondda, called “The Mushrooms”.
     
    Even today people still talk of the local derby between Ton Pentre, the “Bulldogs”, and Mid-Rhondda, the “Mushrooms”, when by the brilliance of Pat in the centre-half position, they defeated Mid-Rhondda in the English Cup round at Tonypandy.
     
    This must have been a record gate in Welsh football when at Ynys Park, Ton Pentre, they could command a turnover of nearly £400.
     
    When Pat left Ton Pentre, the team gradually declined during the first world war and it is only recently that a few soccer stalwarts are attempting to raise a team at Ton Pentre to recapture the glow of the past when Ton Pentre was a soccer stronghold”.
     

    So we’d be grateful for any information or ideas where to look for photos or info, I have seen a few newspaper reports but that’s all so far.

  2. In 1920/21 Barrow AFC signed Ton Pentre left half Edwin Simpson on the ” recommendation of Pat Gallagher”.

  3. Hi Brian, many thanks for the info, I’ve found very little info on my Grandfather’s time at Ton Pentre and nothing on his return after WW1, I did find a newspaper report where Ton Pentre played Mid Rhondda on Christmas Day 1914, he handled the ball giving away a penalty but made amends by scoring the winning goal!

    Anyway good luck tomorrow in the Welsh Cup and best wishes from the Gallacher family.

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