Huddersfield Northern Union, the RFU and the First World War
Sincere thanks to David Gronow for permission to publish the following article and photographs.
ARMY SERVICE CORPS TEAM, GROVE PARK
The great ASC team which swept all before it in services and club rugby union during the First World War.
Back (left to right): Mellor, Jones, Holbrook, L Corsi, Clark
Middle: J Corsi, Gabrielle, Alexandra, Gronow, Pavine, Brown
Seated: Ware, Cockell, Neal, General Burn, Major Stanley, Wagstaff, Nixon
Although Great Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the initial impact on the Northern Union was minimal.
Like the authorities of all sports, it took the NU General Committee some time to respond to the outbreak of war.
When it met on 11 August it was agreed to conduct the 1914-15 season as normal and all the major competitions were completed……incidentally, 'All Four Cups' were won by Huddersfield.
The initial response to continue was taken before military hysteria had fully gripped the country, but by September professional football of whatever code was under severe pressure to suspend activities while the nation was at war.
On 10 August, Athletic News, in it's first issue following the occurrence of war,indicated that Northern Union players already called up included 3 from Hull KR, 2 from Oldham, 3 from Rochdale (inc Roman and Robinson on tour) and one from Bramley, it also stated:
'We hope that sport will not be abandoned in these islands. Our games may only be 'trinkets' but they will tend to keep the life of the nation on old lines., and they will assist to keep the body fit and the mind calm until such as right is vindicated.
Courage, determination and patience are demanded of non-combatants, and sport tends to the development of these virtues. Let us not hastily give up that which has served a free people so well'.
Such arguments did not stop those who clamoured for an end to football from claiming the moral high ground.
The Football Association was a target for anti-football campaigners, despite the fact that the War Office had declared itself 'favourable to the continuation of football'.
The Rugby Football Union secretary, Rowland Hill, claimed that the FA Council 'had allowed one of the greatest sports in the world to be solely and entirely governed by commercial principles.'
The Yorkshire Rugby Union official, James Miller, felt 'that playing fields were being desecrated at the present time' and that 'it was necessary to compel those who idled round the streets - those shirkers and bullet-funkers - to join the ranks.'
Patriotism was rife, with newspapers full of letters condemning those who continued to play.
On 23 October 1914, 'A Soldiers Mother' writing to the Yorkshire Post captured the spirit of those who called for an end to football:
'It makes one's blood boil to read accounts of Saturday's football matches and the enormous crowds watching them.
If a Zeppelin were to hover over football grounds in England and drop a few bombs amongst the idle loafers gathered there, then perhaps, and I feel not until then, would those shirkers wake up to a sense of their duty to King and their country.'
The Northern Union was no less patriotic than the RFU, Joseph Platt, the NU secretary declaring that it was 'the bounden duty of every player as well as every football enthusiast of suitable age and capacity to give his best service to the nation'.
That being so, it was not until 8 September that the NU's General Committee met in Manchester to discuss the pressure from the football codes to suspend operations.
As was the case with the Football Association, the meeting unanimously passed a resolution stating that:
'Matches to be played as usual, as it is impossible for all men to take up active war service, and it is thought unwise to have no relaxation from the more serious objects of life……all clubs be asked to encourage their players to join the army for active service, unless their employment is such that by not doing so they equally serve their country's welfare.'
On Wednesday 26 August 1914, the Huddersfield Examiner published a small paragraph under the heading:
FARTOWN CLUB GIVES £100 TO LOCAL WAR FUND
'There has been a good deal of comment in local football circles as to the action of the Fartown Club in not handing over the proceeds of the practice matches to the local war relief fund.
In fairness to the club officials it should be widely known that long before the war was commenced an application was made to the Northern Union authorities for permission to hand over the proceeds of practice matches to the funds of the District League.
The permission was obtained and the original intention was carried out.
It has always been the desire of the club committee to make a grant to the local war relief fund, and at a meeting held last night - the first since the war began - the magnificent sum of £100 was voted for the purpose.
The splendid spirit shown by the club officials should allay any adverse criticism that may have been directed against it.'
In a survey of the new NU season, Batley and Bramley each had two key players joining up.
At St Helens, a leading official ' would rather see the men fight for their country rather than play at this great crisis.'
On Monday 21 September 1914, the Athletic News stated that a 'Roll of Honour' article lists names of NU players who have joined up.
District League 138, Barrow 2, Bradford 10, Bramley 10, Broughton 6, Dewsbury 6, Halifax 6, Huddersfield 2, Hull 6, Hull KR 9, Hunslet 2, Leeds 5, Oldham 3, Rochdale 10, Runcorn 21, Salford 2, St Helens 14, Swinton 10, Wakefield 11, Warrington 11, Widnes 7, Wigan 2 and York 8. No response from Batley, Keighley or Leigh.
It was estimated c2000 in all, including junior football.
The following week, Athletic News indicated that the 'Tourists are discussing whether to volunteer - Wagstaff as captain and Thomas have said they would volunteer.'
Jarman said: 'I am hoping to gain as good honours there (on the battlefield) as we have done in Australia, and my prayer is that I may come safely back to my wife and children and to take part again in the sport I dearly love.'
Roman stated: 'I shall do my best in the great game just as I always do in football.'
Robinson went on to say: 'I hope we get the same honours on active service as we have on the playing fields of Australia.'
Athletic News reported on 12 October 1914, that E Toole, the Runcorn half-back, was the first NU player killed - at the Battle of Mons.
As the season wore on, however, problems began to arise.
By April 1915, Joseph Platt, the NU secretary announced that 1,418 amateur and professional players had enlisted.
At the NU Annual General Meeting on 9 June 1915, a resolution was passed by a large majority:
'That except for schoolboys and intermediates under eighteen years of age, competitive football under Northern Union rules be suspended for the duration of the war.'
J H Smith, who proposed, believed that munitions workers and the public in general did not want football. He asked:
'Is there a single person present who can honestly say he got any satisfaction at all out of football last season?…..there was no genuine pleasure or excitement obtained from it.'
J B Cooke, who seconded, added that last August when they decided to continue, 'There was hardly a man among them who thought the war would continue very long', but:
'After 10 months of fighting, with dreadful losses to the country and lives, they realised what the great game that was going on in France really meant.'
Thousands of players and hundreds and thousands of spectators rallied to the colours and eventually clubs had great difficulty raising full-strength teams.
Often games were played with uneven numbers of players and by 1917-18 all games were played 12-a-side, if possible.
A relief fund was set up to help clubs who fell on hard times, reflected in the fact that clubs lost a massive £4000 in 1916-17.
Despite this, the beginning of 1916 marked a rise in rugby union's fortunes.
For instance, Harold Wagstaff was Attested 9/12/15 and posted to Army Reserve.
"Attested" - " To Army Reserve" on the same date/or/consecutive dates/or/ just a few days apart was often seen on a man's "Statement of Service" or " Casualty Form" - " Active Service", especially about the very end of 1915 or the early part of 1916 when the (effectively failed) "Derby Scheme" was winding down and the first Army Service Act (conscription) was about to come into effect.
A 'back-door' introduction of conscription in early 1916 by Lord Derby (who was also the official patron of the Northern Union), brought into the army many NU players who had not already volunteered and helped to expand greatly the pool of players available to military rugby union sides.
What happened during this period is that there was a huge increase in the number of men who were registered for service, but whom the army either didn't especially need or simply didn't have the capacity to process.
These men were effectively enlisted (so technically they were in the army and subject to immediate service if required), but were assigned to Army Reserve so that they were not entitled to army pay or subject to any army discipline.
Effectively they became part of a pool of men who had been substantially processed into the army and were available for immediate call-up when required.
In April 1916, a match between a 'North of England Military Team' and an Australian representative side, took place at Headingley, Leeds, with the teams playing under rugby union rules.
When the teams were selected all the North's players had been officers and rugby union men, however, two weeks before the match was due to take place, the North was augmented by four non-commissioned men: Harold Wagstaff, Ben Gronow and Douglas Clark of Huddersfield, plus Willie Davies, the captain of Leeds, all of whom had been recently called up.
The Antipodean side included Huddersfield's Tommy Gleeson.
The NU players dominated, scoring fourteen points in the match as the North won 13-11, with Wagstaff, who had only ever seen one rugby union match before that day let alone playing in one, beat several opponents, running half the field to score a memorable try.
However, this was not the first time a NU player had played rugby union during the war - Gwyn Thomas of Wigan (later transferred to Huddersfield in August 1919) had turned out for the Barbarians against South Africa in November 1915, his fellow Wigan player Percy Coldrick had played for Newport in January 1916, and three NU players, including Huddersfield forward Fred Longstaff, had appeared in a union match for Leicester that February.
Three weeks later the team beat the Tees and Hartlepool Garrison in front of 7000 spectators, and on 20 May 1916, a Northern Military XV now boasting seven NU players, including Fartowners Wagstaff, Gronow and Johnny Rogers, defeated a Welsh side chosen by Welsh rugby union secretary Walter Rees before a crowd of over 15,000 at Goodison Park, home of Everton FC.
These successes opened a debate as to the RFU's ban on NU players, which since the 'breakaway' of 1895, the RFU had prohibited for life any rugby union player found guilty of playing NU football or playing alongside anyone who had played NU football, regardless of whether payments had changed hands.
According to the Athletic News this didn't hold hard and fast with the hard-line supporters of amateurism in the RFU, 'war-time recognises no rules' quoted W L Sinclair, however, the RFU was forced to issue a statement on 4 October 1916 to clarify its position:
'Northern Union players can only play with Rugby Union players in bone-fide naval and military teams. Rugby Union teams can play against naval and military teams in which there are Northern Union players. Munitions workers cannot be regarded as naval and military players. These rulings only obtain during the war.'
After the war this new status quo would not alter the fact of rugby union men being tolerant of the Northern Union professional player, even though both were rubbing shoulders and spilling blood together in the trenches.
The lifting of the temporary ban was seized upon by Major R V Stanley, the Oxford representative on the RFU committee who, since at least December 1915, had being trying to recruit NU players to his Army Service Corps (Motor Transport) at Grove Park, South London.
The ASC was organised into Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were under orders of or attached to the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of Corps, Army or the GHQ of the army in each theatre of war.
- Base Depots
- Horse Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional Trains, Reserve Parks and Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) Trains)
- Mechanical Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional Supply Columns and Ammunition Parks, Companies attached to the heavy artillery, Omnibus Companies, Motor Ambulance Convoys, Bridging and Pontoon units and Workshops)
- The Army Remounts Service (Companies involved in the provision of horses)
- The ASC Labour Companies
With the outbreak of war, Grove Park was taken over by the ASC, between 1914 and 1919 nearly 300,000 men and women passed through it.
Some of the troops were at Grove Park for less than 24 hours, while others were on 12 week training courses for the maintenance of various motor vehicles which ranged from staff cars to lorries and buses.
During the latter years of the war, Grove Park gave its name to an aerodrome and became an emergency landing ground for aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps.
When the new season began a week after the RFU announcement, Major Stanley's diligent work was clear for all to see - the ASC team included Huddersfield's Wagstaff, Gronow, Clark and Rosenfeld, together with Oldham player Frank Holbrooke and Rochdale's Joe Corsi and international Ernest Jones.
They proceeded to take apart almost every other team in the South of England, including Australian and New Zealand services sides.
Out of twenty-six games twenty-five were won, scoring 1110 points and conceding just 41.
Their only defeat was a 6-3 loss to a United Services side which included eight rugby union internationals.
During November 1916, Grove Park (with seven Northern Unionists including Wagstaff and Gronow) beat Wanderers 118-0, scoring 26 tries (Wagstaff and Jones 4 each), plus 20 goals by Gronow (who also missed six!).
Even in these surroundings etiquette was maintained regarding social and military rank: Wagstaff called his winger, Harlequins player Lieutenant Dixon 'Sir', Nixon reciprocating by calling the centre 'Wagstaff'.
By 6 December 1915, Athletic News noted that 31 players from Hull had enlisted, Halifax 24, Huddersfield 18, Bradford 40, Hull KR 33, Hunslet 27 and Runcorn 46.
The following week Barrow 17, Leeds 27, Oldham 34, Swinton 42, Wigan 12, Broughton 42, Rochdale 29, St Helens 23, St Helens Recs 36, Salford 19, Swinton 42 and York 58 all had players joining up.
By Christmas 1915, the Athletic News 'Roll of Honour' was added to with Batley supplying 38 players, Bramley 36, Dewsbury 25, Featherstone 27, Wakefield Trinity 23 and Warrington 37.
At various times during the war Huddersfield, Keighley, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington, Widnes and York gave up the ghost, at least temporarily.
By 1918-19, only Barrow, Bradford Northern, Dewsbury, Halifax, Hull, Hunslet, Leeds and Wigan started the season.
The Huddersfield contingent who saw war service included Harold Wagstaff, Douglas Clark,
Albert Rosenfeld, Ben Gronow and Fred Longstaff - all household names of the day.
Acting Sergeant M2/221946 Harold Wagstaff was mobilised on 9 September 1916 and posted to the ASC as a Motor Driver at Grove Park.
He was then posted to 1009 Coy ASC (79 Auxiliary Petrol Coy) on 21 September 1917, before an almost immediate transfer to the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) France.
The term "British Expeditionary Force" is often used to refer only to the forces present in France prior to the end of the First Battle of Ypres on 22 November 1914.
By the end of 1914—after the battles of Mons, the Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres—the old regular British army had been wiped out, although it managed to stop the German advance.
An alternative endpoint of the BEF was 26 December 1914, when it was divided into the First and Second Armies (a third, fourth and fifth being created later in the war).
BEF remained the official name of the British Army in France and Flanders throughout the First World War.
In 1917, the BEF's attacks moved along the front, they were in the Pas-de-Calais for the Battle of Arras.
They then concentrated in Belgium for the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Passchendale and ended the year back in the Pas-de-Calais for the Battle of Cambrai.
After a month in France he was shipped out to Egypt with the BEF on 22 October 1917 where he contracted a knee injury in Kantara, an Egyptian city on the eastern side of the Suez Canal, 160 kilometres north-east of Cairo and 50 kilometres south of Port Said, then subsequently to hospital in Alexandria.
(During World War I, Kantara was the site of Headquarters No. 3 Section, Canal Defences and Headquarters Eastern Force during the latter stages of the Defence of the Suez Canal Campaign and the Sinai Campaign of 1916.
It became the main supply depot for all British, Australian and New Zealand operations in the Sinai from 1916 until final demobilization in 1919).
He was discharged from hospital as fit for base duty and posted to No 30 AA Section on 21 August 1918.
After four months he embarked for the UK on 26 December 1919, attaining the rank of Acting Sergeant a month later.
He was discharged to Class Z Army Reserve on 10 August 1919.
(Class Z Army Reserve was authorised by Army Order on 3 December 1918.
In order to stem the drain on the Treasury, the Government were extremely keen to get the army substantially demobilized as soon as possible, but at the same time there was real concern that the Germans would not accept terms of the proposed peace treaty, and that hostilities may flare up again (remember that at this time there was only an armistice), so, soldiers who had been engaged 'for the duration', were at first posted to Class Z.
They returned to civilian life, but with an obligation to return if called upon, and can reasonably be assumed to have been 'fit for war service' at the time of their discharge.
The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920).
Sergeant M2/133255 Douglas Clark
Clark enlisted and joined the Army Service Corps.
In 1917 he took part in the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).
For his bravery in bringing forward an ammunition column under heavy fire, he was awarded the Military Medal.
He was gassed twice, in July and October, on the second occasion, as he later recorded in his diary, he was also badly wounded.
The injuries that he suffered in the war were severe enough for him to be assessed as having a 20% disability and awarded a War Disability Pension.
His diary (covered in detail in a separate feature) records his service delivering supplies to the front as an NCO in the ASC with the 32nd Ammunition Column, 7th Siege Park, Ypres Salient,
and his experiences including: the Battle of Messines, 7 June 1917: his treatment at hospital when gassed, July 1917: the Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July - 19 November 1917: the Battle of Broodeseinde, 4 October 1917: his wounding and gassing, 31 October 1917: and evacuation, November 1917.
Private M2/270086 Albert Rosenfeld
Rosenfeld enlisted in the ASC on 19 January 1916, and was posted straight to the Army Reserve then called up in November 1916 (see notes for Wagstaff).
It is believed he was called up to serve in the Australian army and shipped to Gallipoli, in the theatre of war he always called 'Messpot' - Mesopotamia.
A sporting interlude was that he beat all comers in a foot-race, the silver trophy engraved 'Convoy Staff Company Sports' 100 yards Handicap, 18 April 1917, however, spending three or four years in that climate was quite debilitating, and whilst in Persia contracted Malaria.
He arrived home and was in Huddersfield War Hospital with influenza from 16 February until he was discharged 1 May 1919, classed as physically unfit due to the effects of heat stroke, a disability rated at 30% - the war had taken it's toll with a vengeance on a great sportsman.
Sergeant M2/103369 Benjamin Gronow
Gronow had previous service with the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion, Welsh Regiment, Territorial Force, before enlisting in the ASC Motor Transport as a Driver on 1 June 1915.
1/7th (Cyclist) Battalion was formed August 1914 in Cardiff, unallocated to a Brigade or Division, it remained in UK throughout the war - moved to Berwick and Montrose in 1914, thence to Saltburn (1915), Seaton Carew (early 1917) and Middlesbrough from mid 1917 where it formed part of the Tees Garrison.
He was made Acting Sergeant 12 June 1917 and was posted to France on 17 August 1917 to the 275th Section Heavy Artillery Motor Transport.
Whilst in Flanders he met up a couple of times with Douglas Clark, and on the 26 October 1917 Clark passed on a German bayonet to be forwarded home.
He was officially appointed Sergeant on 30 October 1917 with the 406th MT Coy (406 Coy had several attachments, mainly to artillery parks) - Gronow was attached to 376 Siege Battery.
He received a posting to 886 Coy during Sept 1917, but rejoined 406 Coy two months later.
Like Wagstaff, he was transferred to the BEF France, serving from 13 March 1918 until 15 February 1919 when he returned to England and transferred to Class Z Army Reserve.
Private 4940 Fred Longstaff
Fred Longstaff was born on 8 October 1890 in Bradford, Yorkshire, and played for Victoria Rangers before signing for Halifax.
He played two seasons at Halifax prior to him joining Huddersfield in December 1911, at a time when great things were happening at Fartown.
He was a tough-as-teak, no-nonsense forward, typical of that era, and made his debut in the second row, ironically against Halifax, at Fartown on 23 December 1911.
He did not have to wait long before honours came his way, picking up a winners medal as Huddersfield beat Wigan 13-5 in the League Championship Final played at Thrum Hall, Halifax on 4 May 1912 - Longstaff actually converting one of Huddersfield's tries - the Fartowners also winning the Yorkshire League Championship for good measure.
The following season 1912-13, the Huddersfield powerhouse marched on, winning the League Championship Final by a score of 29-2 against Wigan at Belle Vue, Wakefield, on 3 May 1913.
On the Saturday prior to this, they had met Warrington at Headingley, Leeds, in the NU Challenge Cup Final, and in a game of contrasting fortunes, came back from a 0-5 deficit to win 9-5, Moorhouse crossing for a hat-trick of tries.
Again, Huddersfield retained the Yorkshire League title.
In 1913-14, Huddersfield continued in much the same vein, with Longstaff adding a Yorkshire Cup-Winners medal as the Fartowners beat Bradford Northern 19-3 at Halifax on 29 November 1913.
Yorkshire County honours came his way when he was selected to play against Cumberland at Workington on 11 October 1913 (Yorkshire losing 3-8), and again on 10 December 1913 at Fartown when Yorkshire took on Lancashire, Longstaff kicking two goals in a 19-11 victory.
He also represented England (16) against Wales (12) on 14 February 1914 at St Helens.
Surprisingly on 4 April 1914, Huddersfield were beaten 11-3 in the semi-final of the NU Challenge Cup by a determined Hull side which included Jack Harrison who was to lose his life in the coming war, winning the VC in the process.
The by-now obligatory Yorkshire League Championship was also secured by Huddersfield, however, Longstaff was to taste defeat once more that season, this time in the League Championship Final on 25 April 1914 at Headingley, Leeds - a moderate crowd of 8,091 turning up to witness a 5-3 victory to Salford.
Longstaff's disappointment was offset by the news that he had been selected in the party to make the second Northern Union Tour to Australia and New Zealand at the end of the season, captained by club-mate Harold Wagstaff, and played against Australia at the Royal Agricultural Showground, Sydney, on 27 June 1914, Longstaff kicking two goals in a comprehensive 23-5 victory.
Three days before war broke out, the Northern Union and New Zealand contested the last test match for five years.
On 1 August 1914 at the Dominion Cricket Ground, Auckland, despite wet and windy conditions, the NU overcame New Zealand 16-13, Longstaff playing in the second row.
As he returned from Australasia, it was 'business as usual' for the Fartowners in 1914-15, more so in fact as Huddersfield took all before them, winning 'All Four Cups' available to them that season, earning them the name of the 'Team of All Talents'.
One amusing incident concerning Longstaff was the day he was presented with a new suit.
On Saturday 24 April 1915, Huddersfield demolished Leeds 35-2 in the NU League Championship Final at Wakefield.
The previous evening Longstaff and Harold Wagstaff were walking along New Street in Huddersfield town centre when a local tailor approached them.
He offered 'Waggy' the best suit in his shop if his team beat Leeds the next day.
Longstaff told the tailor: 'you fellows always think about the backs, never about the forwards, what do I get if we win?'
Thereupon the tailor promised Longstaff that if he scored a try he could have one as well.
During the game 'Waggy' was put clean through by Bert Ganley, leaving only the full back to beat as he neared the line.
As he approached him he heard a voice on his shoulder shouting 'suit', 'suit', ' suit' - Wagstaff turning to see Longstaff alongside him.
Longstaff duly planted the ball down between the posts - the suit was his!
Longstaff's final game for the Fartowners was on 1 May 1915 against St Helens in the NU Challenge Cup Final at Watersheddings, Oldham - Huddersfield winning 37-3.
In total, he played 135 games for Huddersfield (scored 15 tries and kicked 25 goals).
The game of rugby league had struggled during the season simply because a great number of players had joined up for King and Country in the Great War.
Longstaff was no exception, joining the Bradford 'Pals', the 1st/6th West Yorkshire Regiment.
'Pals' regiments were springing up everywhere, with whole communities enlisting - they lived together and would fight together.
Throughout what was left of 1915 and the start of 1916, he had seen action on the Western Front, but it was more of a holding role.
That changed on 1 July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme commenced.
Days earlier he was in the trenches near the Leipzig Salient, the 'big push' had arrived, but the relentless bombardment by the British artillery on the enemy trenches had failed to do its job, the Germans were ready and waiting.
At precisely 3.30pm on that fateful day his battalion received orders to attack the village of Thiepval, then became entrenched at Aveluy Wood on 3 July before moving to Martinsart in camp and billets.
On 9 July, his battalion relieved the 1/7th West Yorkshire Regt in the Leipzig Salient which was ordered: 'to be held at all costs'.
Over the next few days their position came under heavy shellfire, and on 12 July the Germans attacked, but were not successful.
On 15 July the Germans approached the British trenches with bombers and a new weapon, liquid fire (flame throwers).
Longstaff scrambled into his firing step as the Germans appeared suddenly through the dark and was faced with a sudden searing flame which shot out across the ground.
He was seriously wounded and was one of forty soldiers from his battalion wounded that morning and transferred to a nearby field hospital where medical staff made every effort to save his life, but the injuries he sustained won.
He died on 21 July 1916 - the Battle of the Somme had claimed the life of yet another fine rugby footballer.
He was laid to rest at Blighty Vally Cemetery, Authile Wood, Somme.
The Northern Union also saw other professional players killed in action including:
- Walter 'Rattler' Roman - Rochdale Hornets
- Bill Jarman - Leeds
- Jack Harrison - Hull FC (who won a posthumous Victoria Cross)
- George 'Stick' Thomas - Warrington
- Jack 'Dandy' Flynn - Broughton Rangers
- Jim Turthill - St Helens
- George Thom -Salford
- Jimmy Flanagan - St Helens
- WL Beattie - Wakefield Trinity
Mercifully, the Great War came to a halt on 11 November 1918, and despite these losses and the inevitable disruption in finances, organisation and the state of grounds the Northern Union recovered quickly and indeed entered a boom time.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Cups were re-instated from January 1919, the final attracting 18,617 and 21,500 spectators, respectively, bringing a timely boost to the coffers.
Indeed the code was in the position to double the pay of ref and linesmen in 1920 which also saw the retirement of long serving Chairman JH Smith.
More telling was the first £1000 transfer when Harold Buck went from Hunslet to Leeds.
In the same year Huddersfield defeated Leeds 24-5 in the Yorkshire Cup in front of 24,935 people producing the first ever £2000 plus gate receipts.
I am indebted to Tony Collins for providing me with references to 'Athletic News' and 'The Yorkshire Post', also to Tom Mather for allowing me to access his publication 'Missing in Action' which includes a chapter on Fred Longstaff.
I must also express sincere thanks to Sue Allen, the Great Niece of Fred Longstaff, for information supplied in helping compile this article.