Monday, 26 January 2015

Grave of first ever League goalscorer is located in Bolton cemetery

The grave of Bolton Wanderers’ and England international footballer, Kenny Davenport, scorer of the world’s first ever League goal on 8 September 1888, has been located in Heaton Cemetery, Bolton. 

On Friday 23 January; Mavis Callaghan - a sprightly 87-years old and who is the granddaughter of Kenny’s brother, James – and author and football historian, Mark Metcalf spent the afternoon on what for much of the time appeared to be a fruitless search. They examined many hundreds of headstones in a section of the Cemetery where according to the grave resided. 

With darkness fast approaching the pair were just minutes away from abandoning the search when Mavis rested her arm on a headstone, Glancing down, Mark screamed, “That’s it. That’s Kenny’s grave. You’ve got your arm on it.”

To some considerable joy, the soaked pair could clearly see the inscription:-

The beloved husband of EMMA DAVENPORT
Who died 27 September 1908, aged 46 years
At Rest 

Half an hour earlier, Mavis had remarked that she had never previously visited Kenny’s grave but along with her mum she had once visited her grandmother’s grave in the same cemetery. 

“I can recall my mam pointing towards where Kenny’s grave and I am sure it is over here.”

“How old were you at the time?”

“I was 10.” 

76-77 years ago! Mark was a little sceptical but armed with this ‘new information’ it was agreed to continue searching. The problem was that the not all the headstones which remain standing (and a good number are now lying on the ground) still have on them an engraved number and even those that do don’t run in sequence. That was certainly the case with the Davenport headstone. 

Mavis Callaghan 

The information on also lists 7 names in the burial plot, which is by no means extensive. We expected therefore that the headstone would contain seven names. In the event it had just the one. It is not known if there ever were more names on the headstone or not. Has the weather washed away the names or were no more names added as Kenny was the first of the seven listed to die?

Whatever the answer we do, at least, know the final resting spot for the man who achieved the unique feat of scoring arguably the most significant goal ever when he netted for Bolton Wanderers against Derby County at 3.47 pm on Saturday 8 September 1888, the date of the first League matches in World Football.  

Of course, the finding of the grave ‘at the very end’ of an exhaustive search fits with the pattern by which it finally proved possible to confirm that Davenport – and not Wolves Gershom Cox, who put the ball into his own net against Aston Villa on the same day – scored the first goal. 

Hundreds of hours were spent by Mark Metcalf and librarian Robert Boyling trawling through every possible newspaper they could find for early September 1888. It was vital to find the kick off time for the Wolves – Villa game. It was only when every possible avenue appeared to have been exhausted that Robert found an advertised kick-off time for the game in the Midland Evening News edition of 7 September. When this confirmed that the game commenced at 3.30pm - and not the previously believed 3.00pm - it became clear that Davenport’s goal on 3.47pm was quicker than Cox’s 30th minute mistake on 4.00pm. 

This information subsequently appeared in Metcalf’s book The Origins of the Football League - the first season 1888/89 that was  published by Amberley Publishing in 2013. Coinciding with the 125 anniversary of the start of the Football League, the news that the name of the first League goalscorer could now finally be confirmed drew world wide publicity. 

The locating of the grave will now make it possible to organise a suitable commemorative event. Mark Metcalf, a Sunderland fan himself, had entertained hopes that someone with a ‘bit of clout’ might have been able to organise a suitable historical marker that publicly marks Davenport’s achievement.

However approaches to Bolton Council, leading councillors, local MPs, Bolton Wanderers, the Football League and the Professional Footballers Association have so far proved totally unproductive. Nothing has happened or appears likely to do so soon.

There will thus be a wreath laying ceremony at 3.47 pm on Tuesday 8 September 2015, exactly 127 years after Kenny Davenport scored for the Wanderers against Derby. It is intended to assemble a list of distinguished speakers at this event. Anyone wanting to assist with this then please make contact with life-long Wanderers fan and secretary of Bolton Trades Union Council, Martin McMulkin on 07918 839327 or Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783. 

Stop press 

Anyone who may have information on Kenny Davenport and would like to share it as part of Mark Metcalf’s research into the player then please get in touch on 07952 801783 or at 

Mark Metcalf at the grave of Kenny Davenport 

John Fielding Statue, Bolton

Taken from the Rebel Road project of Unite education. 

Queen’s Park, Bolton is the location for the John Fielding Monumental Statue. 

The inscription on the pedestal reads:-

J.T. Fielding J.P.

For over 20 years
The Secretary of the Operative Cotton Spinners Association and United Trades Council of Bolton and District 


Erected by the trade unionists and public of Bolton and presented to the Borough, July 11th 1896.

The son of a cotton worker, Fielding was born at Redlaur, near Blackburn in 1849. He took up the same profession at aged 12 and remained a mill worker until 1874, when he replaced his father as secretary of the cotton spinners association, In November 1874 he became secretary of Bolton Trades’ Council.

He successfully united the two trade union branches of the cotton spinners’ into one organisation, the Operative Spinners’ Association. According to the Bolton Journal the Association was ‘second to none in the kingdom for wealth and power.’ The paper praised Fielding for his ‘energy, great gasp of thought and forceful character’ that ‘lifted his fellow workers……to the proud position they now occupy in the industrial world.’ 

When he became in 1879 a Bolton J.P he was one of the first trade union leaders to be appointed to the magisterial bench. 

When he died in 1896, his many friends and admirers wanted to get together to maintain his memory. A memorial over his grave was considered but discarded in favour of a statue to mark his true value and in recognition that a workman’s life is just as important as those of soldiers, politicians and the wealthy. The 6’ statue, costing £250 and sculpted by J.W Bolden, stands next to that of Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s first and to date only Jewish Prime Minister. In 1984, the heads of both statues were removed by vandals and when discovered were quickly restored. 

Tens of thousands attended the unveiling, undertaken by Lord James of Hereford, a sponsor of factory legislation, of the Fielding statue on 11 July 1896, at which speakers attacked the ‘sweating’ processes and poor employment practices that were driving down wages in the cotton industry. 

The ‘discovery’ (*) by the Rebel Road project of the Fielding statue has come as a bit of surprise to radicals in Bolton. The Lancashire town has a long-running (Bolton) Socialist Club, where the meetings of Bolton Trades Union Council take place. Unite member Martin McMulkin is secretary of the Trades Council and admits; “I’d no idea we had a statue here in Bolton of a trade unionist. Other people I spoke to also had no idea. I’ve little doubt we will now do something to mark John Fielding’s achievements in the future.”

Perhaps you know of a statue in your town or city that commemorates a trade unionist? If so, please get in touch, as so far the research undertaken would indicate there are very – far too – few such statues. 

  • The information on this came from The Lefties Guide to Britain: from the Peasants’ Revolt to Granta Restaurant that was edited by Peter Clark and published by Politico’s Publishing in 2005. 

Much of the information on this page comes from the Friends of Queen’s Park website at

See also the website of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association at 

Monday, 12 January 2015



In September 2015 it is proposed to hold a suitable commemorative/social event at the Red and Green club in Milnsbridge to honour Lesley Kipling who died in September 2013. To do this an organising meeting will be held at the club at 42 Bankwell Road, Milnsbridge HD3 4LU on Thursday 12 February at 7pm.

Lesley was a historian, socialist, trade unionist, internationalist, anti-racist/fascist, worker, librarian and mother. Her funeral demonstrated the wide respect she enjoyed within the local working class community. Whilst the proposed September 2015 event will be a time for reflection it will also be a celebration of her life. 

If you would like to get involved then please make contact with either Alan Brooke on 07802 318241 or or Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783 or or @markmetcalf07

Barbour workers take strike action

A slightly edited version of this article appeared on unite on Friday. 

Unite members on strike at prestigious jacket maker Barbour in Gateshead today (Friday 9 January) held a highly successful solidarity march and rally. It came at the end of the first of four weeks planned stoppages and follows six days strike action in December. 
All of which has led to the company requesting ACAS talks on Monday. (12 January) With it comes the prospect of a negotiated settlement to a dispute over forced changes to warehouse staff contracts. These include removing unsocial hours payments and introducing new shift patterns, including starting at 6.30am and working as late as 11pm. This will impact on anyone caring for elderly relatives, childcare and travel arrangements. 
“I support my father, Ralph, aged 94. Quite honestly I can’t just leave him on his own
so early or late,” said Ralph Nichol junior. Meanwhile, Dawn Hallcro fears being forced to leave her two teenager children alone for lengthy periods. 
Workers, who handle around 70,000 items weekly, have until 30 January to sign new contracts or face being sacked. Jobs are not exactly plentiful on Tyne and Wear. Yet the self-confidence and organisational support derived from being in Unite has meant Barbour management has badly misjudged the mood of its employees, many earning just  £7.45 an hour, to defend one another.
“We feel loyal long serving employees should be treated much better. We work on an isolated estate. The first bus arrives after the proposed new starting times. The last one leaves before 11pm. We belong to Unite so everyone can look after one another. That’s what we are doing by striking,” explained Eric Bone, one of two Unite workplace representatives amongst warehouse staff. 
It’s not as if Barbour is struggling. Last year the company made a healthy 14 percent return with £21.5 million profit on worldwide sales of £152 million. Staff have worked hard as demand for the products of the successful family-run company has soared in recent years after Barbour jackets became popular with celebrities. 
After picketing their Gateshead workplace from 7.30am, strikers crossed over to nearby South Shields. Accompanied by local Labour MPs, Stephen Hepburn and Emma Lewell-Buck, employees, flags flying and horns sounding, marched determinedly to Barbour’s main offices. Sales director Ian Beattie accepted a signed letter to the company chair Dame Barbour requesting she intervene to help restore unsocial payments and get management to consider a day shift for anyone unable to work till 11pm. 
There was then a short rally at which Labour North East Euro MP Paul Brannen expressed his solidarity and urged “Barbour, please reconsider as this dispute will damage your brand.” 
Unite regional secretary Karen Reay and national officer Roger Maddison were as one in praising the strikers for standing up for “family values and your fellow workers.” 
“The strikers have stood firm in pursuit of basic principles. They are buoyed by the possibility of resolving the strike.  Barbour management should act responsibly by considering the day shift we have proposed and entering Monday’s talks constructively. We certainly will do so,” said Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

One of Sunderland's finest ever games took place on this day 120 years ago

2nd January  1895                                                                             League Division One

                     SUNDERLAND   4                                      ASTON VILLA   4    
            (Gillespie25,??,Hannah,Millar 70)              (Smith15,30,Reynolds(Pen),Devey)

Referee Mr                                                                                              Attendance 12,000 

Sunderland:-- Doig, Meehan. McNeil, Dunlop, McCreadie, Johnstone, Gillespie, Millar, Campbell, Hannah(J),Scott.

Aston Villa:- Dunning, Spencer, Welford, Reynolds, Cowan, Russell, Athersmith, Chatt, Devey, Hodgetts, Smith.

This was the biggest game of the season at Newcastle Rd when current league champions Aston Villa came into town. They started badly and lost at home to Sunderland in September but since then they have gradually climbed the league ladder and are now in strong contention for the championship. Villa were confident of winning and at odds of 6 to 4 appeared a good bet. There was a great deal at stake for Sunderland who following Everton’s defeat a few days ago stood proudly at the top of the table. 

Villa arrived on Tuesday and looked in the peak of condition. The weather was fine and much warmer than Tuesday although a strong NW wind was blowing. Meehan returned at right back for Sunderland and Johnstone moved to left half with Auld dropping out. The pitch was in pretty fair condition with a lot less snow on it and the crowd of around 12,000 was bigger than that of New Years Day. Sunderland won the toss, took advantage of the wind and Devey kicked off for Villa.

Sunderland were first to show and Gillespie raced away to send a hard shot just wide. Villa were very lively however and Cowan got in a shot that went a few yards wide. Sunderland came again and were pressing very strongly but Villa were not to be denied and came at Sunderland with terrific pace with Smith driving in a shot that Doig kicked away. The Sunderland defence was kept busy and Meehan was doing very well. A grand rush from Smith saw the Villa man strike the post with an absolute beauty as the visitors kept going with great dash.

Sunderland at last managed to mount an attack but Spencer cleared and then a free kick to the home side was gathered right under the bar by Dunning. Dunning saved again when the home forwards made another rush. Sunderland were having a bright spell and again and again the Villa custodian stopped shots which could easily have brought goals. When Hannah did beat him his hotshot struck the post and went wide. Villas forwards were playing well and a long raking pass by Athersmith found Smith who neatly popped the ball past Doig to put Villa ahead in the 15th minute

Sunderland retaliated but were soon driven back and Doig did well to save a cracking shot and keep Sunderland in the game. The home side were struggling to find their form but at last managed to work the ball into the Villa goalmouth where some neat passing set up Gillespie to shoot home the equaliser after 25 minutes. This made it a much better game and play became very exciting. Villa were playing very forcibly but they had to fall back when Hannah nipped in and fired a hard shot just wide. A spell of midfield play followed.

After 30 minutes play Smith broke away and dashed past Dunlop and Meehan to let fly from long range. Doig had begun to advance and was astounded as the ball sailed over his head and dipped into the net. It was a superb shot that was worth a goal. Villa continued to buzz around the home goal and Doig was kept busy as the ball was remained in the Sunderland half. In fact Doig was busier that he has been for many a long day at home and his left fist was constantly on the go. 

In view of the pressure that Villa were applying a 3rd goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived when Smith sent in a fine pass. Devey raced onto the ball and was promptly flattened by Johnstone inside the penalty area to bring Villa penalty kick. Reynolds hammered the ball against the underside of the bar and into the net to put Villa 3-1 up. Sunderland rallied after this and Campbell took a pass from Hannah to crack a shot against the crossbar. Amidst great excitement Sunderland pressed again.

 The ball was swung into the Villa goalmouth and a fierce scrimmage took place in front of the posts. Dunning kept out one shot and when the ball was returned Hannah poked it into the net to reduce Sunderland's arrears to one. Villa were still a lively lot and were on the attack when the halftime whistle blew. Facing the wind in the 2nd half Sunderland started strongly and Gillespie was just off target with a good shot. Villa went straight to the other end and Doig saved well before sending the home forwards away again. 

Sunderland were very poor in front of goal and their shooting left much to be desired. Russell took a Villa free kick and dropped the ball right in front of Doig but he managed to fist clear and Hannah went racing away over the centre line. Sunderland mounted a concerted attack and play remained in Villa territory for quite some time. The Villa goal was in constant danger but the visitors defended well and kept the home forwards at bay. Athersmith raided for Villa but Reynolds fouled McCreadie and Sunderland returned to the attack.

Hannah went close but Spencer got the ball away and then a free kick handed the initiative back to Sunderland. McNeill took it and found Millar who fired into the net from close range to equalise in the 70th minute. The ground erupted as hats and sticks flew into the air amidst immense excitement. Soon afterwards Russell fouled Campbell and from the free kick another scrimmage occurred in the Villa goalmouth. Players from both sides clustered around the ball and it fell to Gillespie who whipped it into the net to put Sunderland ahead for the first time.

Villa retaliated strongly and applied tremendous pressure on the home goal although the attacks did not have the same sting as their earlier onslaughts. Russell put a shot over the bar and then Devey got in a grand long shot that Doig collected comfortably. The ball was moving rapidly from end to end and in one spirited attack Sunderland had hard lines in not being awarded a penalty when Campbell was deliberately fouled. Villa were soon back on the attack and bombarding the Sunderland citadel with only grand defending preventing an equaliser.

As the game drew to a close the fast pace did not diminish and the excitement remained at fever pitch. Dunning made a magnificent save to keep out a long shot from McCreadie and then Villa swept the ball up the field. After a bit of neat passing Devey shot home an equaliser for Villa in the last couple of minutes and soon after a magnificent game ended in a draw.                                                                                          (Newc Dly Ldr)

Pesticide claim challenged

From the Big Issue in the North magazine

Banning pesticides will not increase food prices or damage the UK’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, says a leading soil scientist.
This follows the release of a report making these claims commissioned by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Crop Protection Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation.
There have long been calls for pesticides to be restricted on environmental and human health grounds. Sandra Bell of Friends of the Earth claims there is “strong evidence” that some of the very pesticides the National Farmers Union is so keen to use are harmful for the bees and worms that are crucial for pollination.
The report, Healthy Harvest: the Impact of Losing Plant Protection Products (PPPs) on UK Food Production, says around a third of 250 approved PPPs are under long-term threat from “over-regulation” arising from these concerns.
It contends that restrictions “would make it more difficult to control weeds, disease and pests... leading to lower yield decreases of between 4-50 per cent in the crops studied”.
Hardest hit would be apples, fresh carrots, onions and frozen peas.
Lincolnshire vegetable farmer Mark Leggott claimed: “In the pea sector, poor weed control can lead to significant crop loss. Therefore, a wide range of herbicides is needed.”
Healthy Harvest concludes that £1.6 billion in farming profits would be lost from banning pesticides, leading to increased imports and higher food prices. Approximately 35,000-40,000 jobs would be lost, claims the report.
‘Massively exaggerated’
But Charlie Clutterbuck, a Lancashire soil scientist, believes the threatened numbers are “massively exaggerated, as the report provides no evidence that 87 PPPs are really threatened”.
He added: “It also presents as ‘undeniable facts’ some contentious claims, such as that damage to crops are caused by flea beetles when the evidence is pretty weak.
“This is a big debate that links closely to a chronic lack of investment in our land science research, such that three-quarters of our public field research stations are closed. These could have helped find alternative, often natural, ways of controlling bugs.”
Georgina Downs, who has campaigned for 13 years against pesticides, said. “Pesticides have been approved without any risk assessment to those living near sprayed fields.
“I have many reports of acute health problems that, by increasing demands on health services, also have an economic cost. We need a pesticides policy that places public health first.”
Downs wants tougher laws introduced to force farmers to inform residents in advance about spraying – but the NFU is opposed.
An NFU spokesperson said: “The report identifies that farmers strive to maintain
high standards when using pesticides. Agricultural sectors comply with strict legislative requirements, and through the voluntary initiative on pesticides we have in place a range of additional safeguards.”

Clutterbuck said: “We need to find the money to redevelop the UK’s public land science independent of major agro- businesses.”