How Williamsons FC became an elite team

Williamsons Football Committee pictured in season 1932-33 on the Giant Axe.
Williamsons Football Committee pictured in season 1932-33 on the Giant Axe.

Football historian Terry Ainsworth looks at the history of Williamsons FC

The name of Williamson, of Lancaster, was known the world over, because of its industrial products, and in a vast organisation employing so many men from the city and district, sport had the support and encouragement of the management, so it came as no surprise when a football club came into being in 1932.

Williamsons photographed on the Giant Axe after a highly successful season in 1932-33.

Williamsons photographed on the Giant Axe after a highly successful season in 1932-33.

At a general meeting on August 17, 1932 a football club was formed and had the full support and financial backing of the directors of the firm, Lord and Lady Peel, and Lady Ashton.

They were also fortunate to have Viscount Clanfield as their president with the support of forty vice-presidents.

Secretary was H Shaw, treasurer F Masheder and the committee consisted of R Fisher, H King, H Rogerson. H Byrom, E Walker, T Smith, J Dunn, J Walker, H Mitchell, R Holden and E Holden.

As far as possible the committee had been composed of representatives of departments with the players voicing every confidence in their ability to look after the welfare and interests of the club. During the first season a great deal of hard work had been accomplished with 40 meetings as well as 12 sub-committee meetings. Team building at the start of the season had necessitated careful consideration of everyone’s talent before the selection process was completed.

This hard work off the field was soon rewarded in the games as they became champions of Division I, beating Dry Dock United to the title whilst only losing one game in the process.

Over the following three seasons Williamson’s would finish in second in Division I, confirming their place as one of the elite teams of the 1930s.

They added the Parkinson Cup when they defeated County Mental Hospital 1-0 on the Giant Axe. The Reserve team finished in 4th place in Division II with the Third team also finishing 4th in Division III.

A measure of the standard of the team was shown when they deputised for Lancaster Town Reserves in a game at Darwen in the West Lancashire League in the 1932-33 season.

At the end of the season Williamson’s Football Club celebrated their success with a dinner at the Palladium Café, Lancaster in the presence of their president, Viscount Clanfield. After distributing the medals Viscount Clanfield praised the players for their sportsmanship and team spirit.

This spirit was built by working together in the factory and playing together at the Recreation Ground.

A telegram sent by Lady Ashton was read out, “Delighted to hear of your great success. My hearty congratulations to you all.”

After one season’s existence, Williamson’s FC announced through their treasurer, Mr F Masheder, a credit balance of £9 3s 6d, at the annual meeting in the YMCA Rooms, China Street.

For the remainder of the decade Williamson’s would continue to thrive, winning the Senior Challenge Cup in 1933-34, the Infirmary Senior Cup in 1934-35 and the Parkinson Cup in 1938-39.

Bus services did not run to the works on Saturday afternoons leading to some people saying the ground was too far away and to a certain extent the views of the workers were justified.

Increased support for the teams would be helped if this problem could be addressed but further research did not reveal whether the problem was ever solved.

In hindsight this decade could be called the “Golden Era” of Williamson’s football for although they still competed after World War II with the same team spirit that was shown in the 1930s they never quite achieved the same standard of performance.