Footballers at the Front

Newcastle United 1914-15
Newcastle United 1914-15

Matchday, Newcastle, 50,000 fans on the march to St James’s Park. We’re football daft here. The area has supplied more than its fair share of footballers to the top flight.

It was said that you could shout down the pit and a team of skilful footballers would emerge. During the 1960’s Burnley football club had so many Geordies on its books that it could field an entire team of them.

The Northumbria World War One Project is researching the combatants from North Tyneside who died in the war, to build up a free database, supported by the Heritage Lottery fund. More than 2,000 names have been researched and are available. Nearly double that total is undergoing research by our dedicated team of volunteers.

Among their findings are five professional footballers.

Newcastle United player Tommy Goodwill was a skilful winger at the start of his career. He died on July 1, 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. Magpies reserve team player Dan Dunglinson also lost his life that day.

Jack (Stan) Allan was at the end of his career when war began after spells at Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest. He had combined his playing career with teaching PE, and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He survived the war, but died at home in May 1919 from Spanish Flu.

Now one of our researchers has uncovered two more players, from Wallsend. With help from Newcastle United historian Paul Joannou, compiler of the Who’s Who of Newcastle United, they have gathered information on Thomas Hughes and Frank Dockerty.

Tom Hughes was 18 when he joined the Magpies from Wallsend Park Villa for £80 in March 1912. A small and compact schemer, 5ft 7ins, he played at inside left. He made his debut away to Bradford City in February 1913, making one other appearance. It would be his last season. He joined up at the start of the war and lost his life at the Second Battle of Ypres on May 23, 1915.

Frank Dockerty’s career was even more fleeting. After appearing for Jarrow Caledonian, South Shields, Willington St Aidan’s, Jarrow and Ashington, he purportedly signed for Everton. However, he turned up at Fulham FC in October 1909. He seems to have spent a year there, but retired the next season from injuries. He lost his life on the same day as Tommy Goodwill.

We have a book sale at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre on the Fish Quay on Saturday, March 11, from 10am to 4pm.

If you have any information on any casualties of the First World War from North Tyneside please contact www.northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk or call into our office in the Linskill Centre, Linskill Terrace, North Shields, open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. You can also email tommy@northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk