Lancaster nostalgia: the unluckiest team in football

Dry Dock United 1932-33. Back row from left: F Park, F Hayes, E Turner and W C Bosbie. Middle row from left: Jimmy Brown (manager/secretary), L Physick, R Burrows, F Ward, G Wilson, G Rogers, J Winn and H Corless. Front row from left: R Udall, A Swithenbank, James Dawson, John Dawson, N Blondell and A Hayhurst (trainer).
Dry Dock United 1932-33. Back row from left: F Park, F Hayes, E Turner and W C Bosbie. Middle row from left: Jimmy Brown (manager/secretary), L Physick, R Burrows, F Ward, G Wilson, G Rogers, J Winn and H Corless. Front row from left: R Udall, A Swithenbank, James Dawson, John Dawson, N Blondell and A Hayhurst (trainer).

Local historian Terry Ainsworth takes a look at “the unluckiest team in football.”

Local historian Terry Ainsworth takes a look at “the unluckiest team in football.”

County Mental Hospital 1931-32.

County Mental Hospital 1931-32.

Dry Dock United gained this somewhat unlikely title in season 1932-33 when they were runners-up in Division I, runners-up in the Infirmary Senior Cup, runners-up in the North Lancashire League Challenge Cup and runners-up for the Christie Challenge Cup.

In season 1931-32 they had been Division I champions in a league which comprised 10 clubs but for the following season the number of teams contesting this division was reduced to six when Netherfield, Bowness Rovers, Ingleton United, Kendal Town, Ibis Works, Burneside and Windermere sought pastures new.

In the 1932-33 Division I, Williamson’s were top of the league with 15 points, followed by Dry Dock United with 14 points, Morecambe Victoria with 12 points, County Mental Hospital with 10 points, Edmondson Brothers with five points and Storey Brothers with four points.

April 1933 would prove to be extremely busy from a football point of view for Dry Dock United as they would appear in three cup finals.

Although the league performances of County Mental Hospital do not look impressive at first glance they had won the top cup competition in Lancashire in 1931-32 when they lifted the Lancashire Junior Shield.

No doubt work commitments at the hospital would mean that players were not available to play every Saturday thereby accounting for a mid-table spot in the league.

In the first game, Dry Dock came up against County Mental Hospital in the final of the North Lancashire League Challenge Cup on the Giant Axe, Lancaster and succumbed to a 1-3 defeat.

Shuttleworth (2) and Bowker gave the Hospital a 3-0 lead at halftime but Dry Dock improved after the break and pulled a goal back through Liver.

A week later they lost in the Infirmary Senior Cup once more to their arch rivals, County Mental Hospital 4-3, in a thrilling game on the Giant Axe, Lancaster, with Swithenbank (2) and Udall scoring for the “Dockers.”

Shuttleworth, Bates and Bowker had given the Hospital a 3-0 lead but a devastating spell by Dry Dock saw them equalise and the match was in the balance until the 89th minute when a fine pass by Tatham saw centre forward, Shuttleworth, score a deserved winner.

On a Friday night in late April 1933 Dry Dock United went down 0-2 at Christie Park to Morecambe Victoria in the final of the Christie Challenge Cup in front of a very big crowd who saw a thrilling game.

Did this season dampen the enthusiasm of Jimmy Brown who served his club from around 1910 to when he died in 1989?

No, it didn’t and his legacy to grassroots football cannot be underestimated, a true gentleman who loved football.

Story sponsored by Gregory Williams, Butchers of Lancaster. Go to www.soccernostalgia.co.uk for more articles.