Friday, 12 February 2016

Updating the playing record of Alec Brady - Burnley, Sunderland, Celtic, Everton and Sheffield Wednesday

Everton, Sunderland, Burnley and Forest fans combine to update the football record of Alec Brady, best known for his time at Everton, Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday in the 1890s.

In my 2013 book THE ORIGINS OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE - the first season - I published that Alexander (Alec) Brady had arrived at Burnley at the start of the 1888/89 season from Patrick Thistle. Based on records I possessed (which are at the bottom of this page) I listed him as playing 20 times in the League and scoring 7 goals. I had him down as playing for Burnley throughout the autumn before leaving to join Sunderland in 1889.  

I then published that another player, a W Brady arrived at Turf Moor in December 1888. 

Since 2014 I have been co writing a book (THE OLIVE GROVE FLYER) for release later this year on Sheffield Wednesday and England winger Fred Spiksley. 

Fred played for Gainsborough Trinity before signing for Wednesday in the summer of 1891. Fred twice had his autobiography published in 1907 and 1920. In the latter, published on 29 May 1920, he recalls the arrival of a Brady from Celtic at Wednesday in 1892. Below is the text - anyone wanting to see the original paper please let me know. 

Spiksley is very specific in that Brady had played briefly for Gainsborough before moving on to Burnley and he then comes across the same player when he is signed by Wednesday from Celtic. 

The Brady who arrived from Celtic was Alec Brady, who had gone to Celtic after 2 seasons at Everton (1889/90 and 1890/91), where he helped the Toffees win the League in 1890/91 before departing (along with Dan Doyle) in acrimonious circumstances. 

This information meant that Alec Brady could not be at two places at one time, that he could not be playing for Sunderland and Gainsborough (no matter how briefly) in the first half of the 1888/89 season and Burnley. 

How Brady had arrived at Gainsborough 

The team were struggling in 1888/89 and on the look out for players. Here is the text from the forthcoming book. The information is taken from the local Gainsborough paper - please make contact if you wish to see the original. 

William Croft though had had some success in recruiting new players when after employing football agent John McCabe of Leith, Edinburgh, Gainsborough were able to sign four new players - Shamrock Coyne, an Irishman from Hibernian, and three Scots; William McKay from Hearts and Alec Brady and John ‘Jack’ Angus from Newcastle West End. Each new man would earn double the match fee paid to local players. Only Coyne was available for the first Gainsborough home league fixture that Newton Heath won 5-1 before a crowd of 2,000.

These players were to depart in acrimonious circumstances - here is the text from the forthcoming book and which is taken from original papers - please make contact if you wish to see them.

On Monday 3 December 1888, three strangers with suitcases alighted from the Manchester train on platform 1 at Gainsborough’s Great Northern Station. Burnley had started their first season in the Football League very badly and was bottom of the table. Aware that Gainsborough had done well after signing four new players then the east Lancs club directors sought to boost their hopes of avoiding a re-election battle by obtaining the signatures of some of the four men. 

With Angus having let slip what was going on by saying he was not involved then, with the station porter forewarned to listen out for Lancashire accents, the news of the poachers arrival immediately swept through Gainsborough as they made their way to hideout in the lodging houses of the three players set to transfer their allegiance to the Turf Moor club. 

Britannia Ironworks closed for an hour at dinner time and so when all six men finally emerged to make a dash for the Manchester midday train they were pelted with eggs and tomatoes, then punched and had their clothes torn before they finally reached the sanctuary of their railway carriage. As the train departed disgruntled Gainsborough fans threw more eggs….

I was unsure of exactly who Gainsborough had signed Brady from but I was aware that an A Brady was (and as it turns out perhaps wrongly) listed in the various Sunderland history books as having played for the club in the FA Cup against Newcastle East End on 17 November 1889. 

I thus suspected that this might be the Brady who Gainsborough had signed in late November 1888 and who later went to Burnley in December 1888. Paul Days is a Sunderland historian and he duly sent me the match reports for Sunderland’s games in 1888/89.

The following is of interest on this:- 

10th  November 1888                                                                                Friendly Match

                  SUNDERLAND   1                                   GRIMSBY TOWN   1  
                        (Davison)                                                          (Lee)

Referee Mr Douglas of Gateshead                                                             Attendance ,000

Sunderland:-- Kirtley, McDermid, Ford, Rennie, McKechnie, Gibson, Davison, Douglas, Breconridge, McLaughlin, A.Peacock.

Grimsby:- Holtby, Lundie, Doyle, Taylor, Smith, O’Gilvie, Sutherland, Lee, Riddoch, Reid, Hunt.

The return match between these sides was played at Newcastle Road in fine weather although there was a strong easterly wind blowing. Sunderland were weakened by the absence of Brady who has left the town to play for Gainsborough Trinity and W.Peacock. They were replaced by Douglas and McKechnie with McLaughlin moving into the forward line to take Bradys place. McBett was missing for Grimsby and Reid took his place. Grimsby won the toss and elected to defend the Road end playing with the wind.

Taken from Newcastle Daily Chronicle.

So the Brady from Sunderland who played the first half of the 1888/89 season goes to Gainsborough in November 1888 and departs to Burnley in December. The same player arrives back in Sunderland in February. This is shown from the following match report:- 

9th February 1889                                                                                    Friendly Match

             SUNDERLAND   7                                   SCOTTISH CORINTHIANS   2                                     
        (Breconridge(2),Brady(2),                                     (Watson 1,Patten 44)
          Davison(2) McLaughlin)

Referee Mr                                                                                              Attendance ,000

Sunderland:-- Kirtley, McDermid, Oliver, McKechnie, Raylstone, Gibson, Davison, McLaughlin, Davey, Brady, Breconridge.

Scottish Corinthians.:- Chalmers(Clyde), Love(Thouleybank), McCartney(Cowlairs), Stevenson(Kilburnie), Ferguson (T.Lanark), McNab(Northern), Watt(Kilburnie), Sawyers(Clyde),  Patten(Vale of Leven), Watson(Northern), Bruce(Vale of Leven).

The weather was poor for the first tour match of the side assembled by Mr Mackay of Glasgow who rejoiced in the name of the Scottish Corinthians. The blizzard of the previous night had left the field covered in patches of snow and the keen frost which followed the snowfall left the ground like iron. Nevertheless the crowd was remarkably good considering that they had to stand for almost 2 hours in the coldest of NW winds. The visiting side was changed considerably with several players unavailable due to the replayed cup tie between Third Lanark and Celtic. 

Sunderland were without the services of the Peacock brothers but Brady had returned after a spell at Burnley to resume on the left wing.

What happened next? 

Brady made his debut for Everton in November 1889. His debut was delayed because of controversy of who had registered him as a player. On this we have George Orr, my good friend and Everton fanatic, who sent me the following information. This shows there was a dispute between Burnley and Everton that was eventually resolved in Everton’s favour.  

July 27, 1889. The Blackburn Standard and Weekly Express 
After considerable negations the Everton have secured the following well-known players for the team to play in the coming season –Andrew Hannan (Renton), Daniel Doyle (Bolton Wanderers), backs; Groves (celtic) and Brady (Renton), forwards. 
 Brady, (Renton and Burnley), will join Geary, 
The team that secured victory was not the one originally in tended, for no reason of their own, but owing to the action- weather justifiable or not the immediate future will show-of the English Council in suspending Brady for alleged duel registration. We say alleged disparity, for though he has been proacunced guilty and sentenced without hearing the defence, Brady still asserts he had not tied himself to Burnley. 
The Everton executive have been fortunate enough to secure Kirkwood to fill the gap caused by Brady's enforced idleness. He hails from East Stirlingshire, and only awaits the necessary ordeal of registration. Brady's case is likely to be the subject of discussion at to-day's meeting of the Everton committee. Sept 16th 1889

October 2, 1889. The Liverpool Daily Post. 
As the meeting of the above associations, held at London on Monday night, after hearing an explanation on Brady's behalf from Everton, Club's secretary, it was decided that the aforesaid professional's term of suspension should expire on the 31 st inst.

October 7 1889. The Liverpool Mercury 
The announcement on Tuesday that A.Brady's suspension, like that of most of the other dual signatories, had been reduced and that he would be available for services on behalf of Everton's on November 1, gave great satisfaction. Brady showed promise of unmistakable power in the practice game he had played at Anfield and of course a place will be found for him among the Everton forwards. It seems a pity to disturb the attack now they have got into swinging order, but it is as well to have a reliable man in readiness for emergencies arising from any accident that may happen. Milward has made such rapid strides, and gets on so evenly with Chadwick, that there will be reluctance in disturbing the left wing. It is most probable that Brady will therefore assume his old position as a right winger and join Latta and Cain of Airdrienians, who has just been secured, with Kirkwood in reserve. In future, players signing more than one registration form will be severely dealt with, and properly so; whilst all cases of being '‘ordered off'' the field'' are to be at once reported. to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

So the record books now need to show that Alec Brady played for Sunderland between August 1888 to early November 1888 before leaving to sign for Gainsborough and then playing for the Lincs club till he moved to Burnley in early December 1888 and then leaving Turf Moor in early February to resign for Sunderland. He then eventually signs for Everton in the summer of 1889 and plays for two seasons. He rejoins Fred Spiksley at Wednesday in 1892 and the pair go on to form one of the finest left sided partnerships in football over the next 7 seasons. 

Help and assistance on this was provided by Paul Days, George Orr, Ray Simpson, Clive Nicholson and

Clearly the Burnley history books now need to be revised as clearly Alec Brady did not score 7 times for Burnley in the season 1888/89 as he was at Sunderland and Gainsborough for most of it. It may be that W Brady scored 7 times and Alec just the twice. Ray Simpson, the Burnley historian, is, I know checking the newspapers and I know once he has got more information he will get back to me. 

Burnley record 1888/89 

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