The death of Edward SMITH, of St Helens Football Club, at West Leigh 1890

Liverpool Mercury, 1st, April, 1890.

Football field accident

During the progress of a rugby match between St Helens and West Leigh at West Leigh on Saturday a serious accident happened to Edward SMITH, aged 19, of Waterloo St, St Helens. SMITH a new player had no bars on his shoes, the result was during a scuimmage he slipped and fell on his head, which was crushed down upon his chest. Dr JONES was called and ordered his removal to the Workhouse Hospital, where he is in a dying condition. He is the only support of a widowed mother.

Liverpool Mercury, 3rd, April, 1890.

The Fatal football accident at West Leigh

Death occurred on Tuesday of Edward SMITH at the Workhouse Hospital

The inquest on the body of Edward SMITH of 19 Waterloo St, St Helens who died from injuries received whilst playing football at West Leigh on Saturday, was held yesterday at Leigh Workhouse, before Mr S. F. BUTCHER, district coroner.

William HEWITT, of 13 Market St, St Helens, stated that he and the deceased were playing football with St Helens A, against West Leigh 1st, at West Leigh, when deceased, who had no bars on his shoes, slipped, whilst the players were wheeling round in the scrummage, and fell with his head under his chest, several other players falling on his legs. Paralysis set in below the seat of the injury in the spine.

Edward TAYLOR, referee in the match said the game was played strictly in accordance with the rules.

The Coroner, in summing up said it was a regrettable circumstance that the youth was cut off whilst engaged in one of those recreations which, though perhaps somewhat rough, was none the less healthful. Football was a recreation which, he supposed all young fellows who had such vitality about them would strive to engage in. Her was afraid that as long as they had any go in them, and as long as they remained Englishmen, they would not content themselves with skipping ropes, but would go in for football and other games, in which there was an element of danger.

A verdict of Accidental Death was returned.

Is football dangerous ?

Is football dangerous ?

At the close of the Association ties I jot down for the benefit of those who are interested in the above question some of the casualties of the 1889-1890 football season. The following statistics have been compiled from the daily newspapers, and are only those that meet the eye of the general reader. I have not gone out of my way to consult sporting journals or the day books of British hospitals, had I done so the butchers bill would have been much more ghastly.


Sept 7th, T. SPITTLE, playing with the Smallheath Alliance Reserves at Birmingham, was struck in the abdomen by the knee of an opponent, and received internal injuries from which he died the following week.

Oct 1st, Tom FOX, miner, Leeds Rd, Carlton, died from injuries received when taking part in a Carlton match. During a "scrimmage" FOX cried, "Oh my neck" and fell back with a broken spine.

Oct 5th, Quarrel at football between SPILSBURY and RANDALL, at Kidderminster, SPILSBURY threw a brick at RANDALL, smashing his skull in a terrible manner, so the Randall died in a few hours.

Nov 2nd, James SHERLOCK dropped dead while playing football in Falls Park, Belfast, after dinner he ran all the way to the field. On the same day OSWALD, captain of the Notts County, got his collar bone broken in a match against Bromley.

Nov 18th, A youth named MEREDITH, playing at Bootle in a match, tripped and fell. He complained of feeling unwell, and died the following Wednesday from shock to the brain and spinal cord.

Nov 22nd, A student named CHEESEMAN was violently kicked in the spine during a football match at Winchester training college and little hopes were entertained as to his recovery. An inquest was held on his body on Dec 2nd.

Nov 23rd, At Belfast, John M'BAIN had his leg broken whilst playing with the Belfast Caledonians against Black Water. CALVERT suffered a fracture of his kneecap in a junior match, at the same place on the same day.

Dec 26th, Arthur E. POLTON, aged 14, expired suddenly whilst playing football in the Kingston recreation ground. Having played a quiet game with 11 other boys for an hour, he was seen to lie down on his stomach and put his hands up to his face, as if he was resting. Soon afterwards he turned on his back, clenched his fists and threw his legs about. A lad picked up some grass and put it on his forehead. He became black in the face. Some of his companions took off his collar and loosened his shirt, and his mother was fetched. Dr BIDDLE and Dr CAPES were soon in attendance but found life to be extinct. A verdict of death from natural causes was returned.

Dec 28th. Was a field day at Bolton, the hard ground worked havoc with football players in the district, TIMMINS the famous half-back of the West Bromwich Albions, retired with a limb broken. BARBOUR formerly the Renton captain, had to leave the field hurt. In the match Nelson v Rossendale, GRAHAM the North End, back, had his collarbone broken, and SHEPHERD was severely injured in the Newton Heath Central v Macclesfield match.

Dec 30th, Lieut LYON, of the Somerset Regiment was injured in a match at Weston-super-Mare, and died of concussion of the brain and internal haemorrhage, without regaining consciousness.


Jan 10th, From the consequences of disaster at football, a young man at Sligo died and was buried on this date.

Jan 18th, Mr E. A. HART sustained a broken collarbone in an Association game at Scarborough. Mr George Kendall HEXT, a solicitor of King St, Portman Square, had the cartilage of his right knee displaced in playing in a match at the Lambeth Palace grounds, between Carters Eleven and St Andrews School.

Jan 26th, A serious accident befell ENGLAND the Newport back, at Penarth in the football match between Penarth and Newport. He was upset by a couple of the home team and had his thigh fractured.

Feb 1st, At East Acton, COLEMAN, half back for Fulham, in Fulham v Stanley, was so unfortunate in meeting the opposing player as to have his leg broken below the knee. He was immediately conveyed to the West London Hospital.

Feb 8th, In a match between Torquay Athletic and Paignton Scarlet Runners a player named HILL had his leg broken. The match had been arranged for a player of Paignton who is suffering from a similar casualty sustained from a meeting of the two teams early in the season.

Feb 8th, Alfred CUMMINGS a private in the 22nd Cheshire Regiment was tackled by an opponent while running with the ball in a match of the Salford Free Wanderers Football Club, CUMMINGS fell heavily to the ground and died at Manchester from the effects of a severe blow to the head.

Feb 28th, In an Association football match at Birmingham a young man named COLLINS, of Coventry, playing full back for Singers Club against the Small Heath Reserves, was heading a ball when he slipped, and another player named BUSHELL fell on him. COLLINS injured his spine and lies in a paralysed condition in Birmingham General Hospital his life being despaired of.

March 8th, HORSINGTON, forward in Royal Arsenal v Old Westminsters injured his head and had to leave.

March 15th, While William FERRIER, aged 20, of a good Edinburgh family was playing in the Grange team in a Rugby match against Walkerburn, at Walkerburn Peebleshire, he secured the ball and rushed for the goal. A Walkerburn player charged and collided with FERRIER who was struck in the stomach, and dropped insensible, dying subsequently from concussion of the brain. The Walkerburn Club cancelled the remaining fixtures for the season.

March 22nd, At the Association Distillery v Linfield match, Belfast, ALLISTER got his leg broken. It is further reported that as the match was drawing to a close the play became exceptionally rough and one player, having been twice cautioned for tripping, was ordered off the field.

March 22nd, A young man named SHOESMITH, while playing in a Rugby match at Whitworth, received injuries to the spine from which he died in terrible agony.

March 29th, The melancholy list closes by recording the death of SMITH of St Helens, who was injured at the match at West Leigh, and died on Tuesday of paralysis and fractured spine.

During the season references have been made to accidents incurred in football by, GEARY, STODDART, WINTERBOTHAM, and BONSOR, Cork, half back, while two well known players HAY and DRABBLE have perhaps, testified to some indirect ill effect of the game by suicide and sudden death, respectively.

From a correspondent.

Misc football snippets

Misc football snippets

Manchester Courier, 19th Nov 1887

Football fatality at St Helens

Mr BRIGHOUSE, coroner, held an inquest on Tuesday at St Helens, Town Hall on William Edward TAYLOR, aged 27, a clerk, who died from injuries received on the football field last Saturday. The deceased was playing the Rugby game with the St Helens Recreation second team, on the ground of the former. He was collared by a Widnes player, fell on his back, and in a few minutes became unconscious. He never recovered and died on Sunday. The medical testimony showed that death had resulted from concussion of the brain. The Coroner said the fatalities which had occurred showed clearly that the Rugby rules were very dangerous to play under, and he thought it must be admitted that Association rules were safest to play under. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.


Manchester Courier, 20th April 1892

Death of a St Helens Footballer

At St Helens yesterday an inquest was held on the body of James RENNIE, a prominent St Helens footballer, who died from injuries received in Lea Green Colliery. From the evidence it appears that five men were engaged in removing a fall of dirt from the roadway in potato delph when a stone fell and knocked over THE LAMP OF William FENNY. RENNIE was picking up the lamp when another stone about five foot long fell upon him and broke his back. William FOSTER said he thought the place perfectly safe and did not require timbering. Mr HALLE, Government inspector said he did not see that any omission had taken place in connection with the affair. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.


Liverpool Echo 1st July 1893

Serious illness of a St Helens Footballer.

James PYKE the well known forward of the St Helens Recreation Rugby Football Club and international and county player, is at present in a critical state from a severe attack of blood poisoning.

PYKE is employed at the plate works belonging to Messers PILKINGTON Bros, as a glass sorter, and some weeks back he was cut on the right hand. Scarcely any notice was taken of it at the time and the wound healed. Shortly afterwards PYKE suffered severe pains in the hand and arm and Dr BASSETT of the Medical Aid Association was called in. His condition has been most critical, but today there is a change for the better.


Liverpool Echo, 4th Oct, 1915

Brave action during great advance

The friends of William BENYON, formerly a well known forward of the St Helens Town, Football Club, and now at the front, have been informed by one of his comrades of heroic conduct on the part of BENYON, during the British advance on Saturday week.

BENYON was in the ranks charging when the officer leading his platoon was shot down at a place where the machine-gun fire was terrible. BENYON ran to the assistance of the officer and dragged him some distance to a shell hole. He then attended to his wounds, and carried him back to safety.


Liverpool Echo, 6th, Sept, 1916

St Helens footballer

Well-known forward dies from wounds.

Robert WALKER, who was formerly one of the most prominent forwards from the St Helens Rugby Club, has died from wounds received during the fighting in Mesopotamia.


Liverpool Echo, 1st, May, 1918

St Helens footballer killed

Sergeant H. S. TURTILL the well-known New Zealand footballer, and full-back of the St Helens Northern Union team has been killed in action. He had been for over two years in the local Engineers, and had seen a great deal of fighting. He was widely respected in football circles, being a very clever player, and an excellent captain for the St Helens team.


Rank: Sergeant

Service No:426516

Date of Death: 09/04/1918, aged 38

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 422nd Field Coy.

Grave Reference IV. D. 6. Cemetery, Browns Rd, Military Cemetery, Festubert

Husband of Mabel Edith Turtill, of Bridge St., St. Helens, Lancs. Native of Christchurch, New Zealand.

The death of Joseph GERRARD at St Helens Football Club 1897


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