Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Dec/1893) - Local Athletic Notes: Choked and Suspended

In August 1893, the Huddersfield Rugby Union team signed two of the Cummersdale Hornets' best players – three-quarter backs George Boak and John "Jock" Forsyth. The two men were given pre-paid rail tickets to Huddersfield, local accommodation and jobs at Read Holliday and Sons chemical works. The Cumberland team claimed that the men had been offered financial inducements to leave Cumbria and the subsequent investigation by the Rugby Football Union resulted in both players being banned for a "flagrant breech of the laws against professionalism" and the Huddersfield team being suspended for the remainder of the year. Of particular suspicion to them was the fact that Charles Holliday was the club's President. The fallout from the Huddersfield suspension, along with similar suspensions for Salford and Wigan, led to the Northern teams voting on 29 August 1895 to resign from the Union and forming the Rugby League.


The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

LOCAL ATHLETIC NOTES.

Whatever responsibility attaches to the committee of the Huddersfield club for the events that have led up to the sentence of suspension it has been shifted from off their shoulders on to those of the members themselves. The members do not refuse the burden. After hearing the whole of the facts of the case, they voluntarily passed a vote of confidence in their committee. The report presented by the latter was lengthy and voluminous. No one could accuse the compilers of any attempt to gloss over any of the facts. It was on the face of it a plain unvarnished statement of the position and actions of the committee, and the only complaint I have heard regarding it is that the report was written in too candid a strain, and was not sufficiently strong in emphasising the innocency of the club, as a club, and its officials. Under these circumstances, therefore, the unopposed resolution of confidence which was passed with so much heartiness by the members, must be all the more gratifying to the committee. They placed themselves unreservedly in the hands of their constituents, and were vindicated by a demonstration of enthusiasm, the equal of which I do not remember to have seen in the history of the club.

And now it remains for the members to bear quietly and with dignity the sentence that has been passed. It is “useless and imprudent,” as the report says, to argue the question any further. Rather let us look forward to the future with hopeful confidence determined that, so far as the club is concerned, “out of evil good shall come.” The enthusiasm that was evident last Saturday night was all right in its way. But is it going to end there? Cannot this enthusiasm be diverted into another channel, so that instead of taking the course of action suggested in some quarters — which would, I am sure, have resulted detrimentally to the interests of the club — increased numbers may be won to the “Claret and Gold” standard, and the object be to seek in every way to promote and foster the interests of the club in all its ramifications. If as a result of the suspension the support accorded to the club could only be strengthened and increased, as I feel sure, judged by the spirit displayed by the members, it could be, we may not have suffered in vain. To secure the onward march of the Huddersfield club then should be the motto of each and every one of its members.

Not disappointment alone, but the greatest possible indignation was felt throughout the Huddersfield district last week end, when it became known that the Rugby Union had thought fit in its wisdom(?) to declare that practice matches should not be allowed at Fartown. Personally, I fail to see what necessity there was for writing to the Rugby Union at all for a ruling on the matter. All the sentences of suspension in the world cannot surely prevent the men, if they go to Fartown, from throwing or kicking a ball about, and it is to be hoped, for their own sakes, they will adopt some such means as this for keeping themselves in form for the match on New year’s day. I suppose the supporters off the club will have to be patient until then, but their chance to shout will find them all with strong lungs and warm hearts, ready to make the ground resound with their enthusiastic plaudits. It seems to me that the latest exhibition of Rugby Union administration is mere likely to affect them than the players, whose liberty to practice amongst themselves that august body surely have no power to curtail.

My friend “Cid” sends me the following lines, which I have pleasure in inserting here for the perusal of my readers:—

Choked and Suspended

Football to me is meat and drink,
To me ‘tis fascination,
Transcending in its interest
The games of my great nation;
Played as my team can play the game.
It surely ne’er will fail
To influence both old and young,
Draw men from hill and vale.
But by some fatuous, hidden means,
My club’s suspended been,
Because some foolish, careless man
Was thought, or, may-be, seen
To whisper some inducement, or
To wink some unnamed gold,
Ride Irresponsibility
Out of its owners’ fold.
For this grave breach of the great law
Of Medes, or other fools,
A hundred men, strong, brave, and true
Are choked by certain rules;
A mighty conclave’s throttled them,
And hang them up to dry,
For two long months suspended them
From getting goal or try.
Nay more, has tied their hands and feet,
They must not touch the ball,
Or even look into the field
Where once to whistle’s call
They met their foes, their friendly foes,
And midst great deafening cheers,
Won county’s highest honours, and
Were manly conquerors.

CID.