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Merseyside stars

Merseyside stars

In part two of our look at those Lancashire cricketers who played professional football there is a distinct Merseyside connection

The turn of the century coincided with our next cricketing footballers, Jack Sharp and Harry Makepeace. Both were double internationals and both played in the same football team – Everton.

John ‘Jack’ Sharp was a goal-scoring outside right signed from Aston Villa. His dashing wing-play and thunderous shooting earned him two international caps. A supremely talented cricketer as well, he also won three Test caps, scoring a century against Australia in 1909.

In 342 appearances for Everton, Sharp scored 80 goals. A lightning fast sprinter, he possessed the ability to flight pinpoint centres onto the head of Everton's marauding centre-forward of the day, Sandy Young, or cut inside his full-back to unleash shots of fierce power. His wing play was compared favourably with the great Billy Meredith and, later, Stanley Matthews.

His career had threatened to become a series of near misses, after three runners-up spots in the First Division Championship, but he became an FA Cup winner in 1906, turning in a ‘man of the match’ performance long before any such awards were dreamt up. Sharp was instrumental in helping Everton lift the Cup for the first time with a 1-0 win over Newcastle at Crystal Palace. He set up the only goal of the afternoon, pulling back a neat, low cross that Young glided home.

Everton returned to Crystal Palace for the 1907 final, with Sharp scoring an equalizer just before half-time. It proved in vain as The (Sheffield) Wednesday lifted the trophy 2-1 with a late winner in a match described as “undistinguished, with the ball too much in the air, and fouls rather plentiful.”

Sharp's eventual decision to retire, after a decade of stalwart service to Everton, was influenced by witnessing the tragic and premature end to a team-mate's career.  Jack Taylor was forced to quit by a "disabling blow to his larynx" in an FA Cup semi-final in 1910. Sharp followed a month later, but his devotion to Everton remained with a new role as Club Director, a position he held with distinction for many years.

Sharp scored over 22,000 first-class runs and took 441 wickets in 534 first-class games during his cricket career, and played in Lancashire’s Championship winning side of 1904.

Harry Makepeace signed for Everton from junior football in 1902, aged 20, and spent 12 years with the club playing in 336 games. He played right half-back and, along with Jack Sharp, was also part of the team that played in the back to back FA Cup finals of 1906 and 1907.

Makepeace also played an integral part in the Everton team that secured the club's second league title in 1914-15. He won 4 England caps during his career between 1906 and 1912, but the outbreak of war ended his Everton career.

[Makepeace is shown in the England photograph, taken before England played Scotland in 1912. He is seated on the front row at the right hand end]

Makepeace went on to play for Lancashire for 24 years, between 1906 and 1930, in a career that included four County Championship titles. His four Test caps were all against Australia, after the First World War in 1920-21, and included a century at Melbourne. He remains the oldest Lancashire player to score a century - on his 48th birthday! He then went onto become a distinguished coach at the county until his retirement in 1951.

To this day he remains the only sportsman to have won football’s League (now Premier League) title and FA Cup as well as cricket’s County Championship title, and play International Football and Test Matches. It’s hard to see how anyone will ever emulate his feat.

Three other Lancashire cricketers made their league football debuts in the first decade of the 20th century. William ‘Billy’ Cook was a right arm medium-fast bowler who played 11 games for Lancashire between 1905-07, and football for Oldham Athletic at full back between 1907-20. He missed one whole year after being suspended by the F.A. for refusing to leave the field after being sent off! His winter career was effectively ended by an injury sustained while playing for the Football League in 1919.

His brother Lawrence, better known as ‘Lol’ Cook took 821 wickets for Lancashire between 1907-23. Signing for Blackpool in 1904, he scored four goals in his first match, a pre-season friendly, where “he shone refulgently at centre forward”. After shining on the right wing on his League debut, Cook’s star waned quickly and he managed only 9 games before a move to Preston North End for the 1905/06 season, where he played 3 times before being released.

Harry Pennington was a wicketkeeper who played four games for Lancashire towards the end of the 1900 season, and also appeared in the First Division for Notts County, although details of his football career have proved difficult to track down.

In between the two World Wars just two Lancashire cricketers enjoyed careers in professional football.

Gordon Hodgson was a prolific goalscorer for Liverpool, netting an incredible 240 times in 378 games during the 1920’s and 30’s during an era when the Red half of Merseyside often found itself in the shadow of the Blue.

Born in South Africa to English parents, Hodgson was spotted by Liverpool officials when visiting England with a touring side in the early 1920’s. In 1924 he played well against a touring Liverpool side and was persuaded to sign, making his first team debut in 1928, and going on to quickly re-write the club's goalscoring records.

In 1930-31, Hodgson set a new Reds record of 36 league goals in a season – a feat not surpassed until the emergence of Roger Hunt in the Sixties – while his tally of 17 Liverpool hat-tricks has yet to be beaten.

In 10 years at the club, he averaged more than 20 goals a season, winning three England caps between 1930-31. His England debut was against Northern Ireland at Bramhall Lane, Sheffield, with England winning the game 5-1. Hodgson then scored one of the goals in the 4-0 victory over Wales at Wrexham, before his third and last cap against Scotland, a 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park, all British Championship matches.

Hodgson was a fast bowler who played in 56 matches for Lancashire between 1928-33, taking 148 wickets. His football career clearly took priority, as he did not play a single game of cricket in April, August or September (and hardly any in May) throughout his time at Old Trafford.

He joined Aston Villa for a fee of £3,000 in 1936 and spent one season with the club (11 goals in 28 games) before moving to Leeds United in March 1937. After scoring 51 goals in 82 games for his new club he was appointed to the coaching staff.

In October 1946 Hodgson became manager of Port Vale in the Third Division and held the post until his early death in 1951.
 
Bill Barron was a forward who lost the best part of his football career to the Second World War. He played for Charlton Athletic before being transferred to Northampton Town in 1938. A natural forward, he became a left back when football resumed and continued with Northampton until he retired in 1951.

He was almost 30 by the time he made his first-class debut immediately after the war, but between 1946 and 1950 he scored good runs in a side struggling for form. Although he played for Northamptonshire, his first-class debut (and his only game for Lancashire) was in the Roses Match against Yorkshire in August 1945. A No. 3 or 4 batsman, Barron passed 1,000 runs twice, in 1946 and 1947.

Photos - Gordon Hodgson: Barratts/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport, Jack Sharp and the 1912 England team v Scotland: EMPICS Sport 

Part 1 - 19th century pioneers

Part 3: After the war

Editor's note: any information on the players mentioned, such as Harry Pennington for whom we have little archive material, will be greatfully received. If there are any omissions, or corrections, contact the editor Ken Grime at: kgrime@lccc.co.uk


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