Bootle FC History - 1948-53


‘As the 1930’s approached it’s final months, talk of the revival of a senior Bootle Football Club ripened. The success of the 1938 schoolboys plus the abundance of locally-born players regularly in football league action proved that the talent was available and, Bootle Stadium, opened just a few years earlier, appeared to be ready-made headquarters. A certain German dictator was to halt all such aspirations for the duration of the 1939-45 hostilities but when soccer was back in full swing, the subject of Bootle FC was again on many an agenda.

The possible resurrection became a distinct probability in August 1947 when a meeting was held on the 14th of the month at the home of Councillor Dr. Harris in Merton Road. The meeting was chaired by Councillor C.G. Mack and the prime mover was Councillor Peter Mahon. The common consensus was that Bootle was a big enough town to be put on the football map with its own team and not just an exporter of its many players to other clubs, both professional and semi-professional. Football was in its golden days and Bootle should provide its recently demobbed and entertainment-starved citizens with a good standard of soccer, either to play or watch. It was envisaged that a first team could play in the Lancashire Combination and a second in the Liverpool County Combination. Elected secretary was Wally Halsall, the former Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City half-back, he was most enthusiastic, foreseeing gates of 5,000 and eventual entry to the Football League. The idea as a whole was accepted by all those in attendance which included Councillors Simon Mahon, James Spence, H.O. Cullen (Mayor) and Mr J. Hagan. The wheels were put in motion to resurrect Bootle Football Club.’

‘The promise of £1,100 sponsorship money from local businesses brought great optimism and the issue of one shilling shares further boosted club finances. After local residents were assured that Bootle Stadium would not be used solely as a football ground, an application to join the Lancashire Combination for the 1948/49 season was made, and accepted. Club colours even posed a problem, red or blue were dismissed for fear of showing favour to either of the ‘big two’ but then it was discovered that the original Bootle FC wore white shorts, so this colour was adopted and peace prevailed. Bootle Football Club was launched and on it’s way.

Secretary-Manager Wally Halsall, ably assisted by trainer Bill Routledge, set about assembling a team together. The Edinburgh pub in College Road, Crosby, was the first port of call and, not surprisingly, this being right next to Marine’s ground brought a number of signings. Vin Ronson and Barney Dwyer were both Bootle lads as were ex-Bootle schoolboy players, winger Stan Williams and left-half Stan Miller, full-backs Alf Burnett and Bert Hanson had been on Everton’s books before the war…. Other captures were Harry Kevan from Formby and wing-half Harry Downey. The Bootle pivot was Tom Ashcroft from Bootle J.O.C. outfit Penpoll and ex-Hoylake Athletic who for continual knee trouble may well have gone to higher spheres. The rest of

Halsall’s signings were mostly J.O.C. players and most would only play in the second eleven.’

The goalkeepers spot proved to be the problem position in the early months before Jack Barlow made the position his own. Threlfall, Johnson and local man Ray Swift were all tried although Swift proved a loyal and able deputy over the following years. One custodian that Bootle overlooked was a tall, blonde, ex-prisoner-of-war German, Bert Trautman. Trautman, then living in Huyton, trained with Bootle at the stadium for several weeks but, with the area taking such a heavy pounding during the war, it was decided not to tempt any local bitterness and he was allowed to join St Helens Town and of course moved on to FA Cup and Manchester City folklore.

After a couple of practice matches at Bootle Stadium, Bootle kicked-off their Lancashire Combination days with a second division home game against Barnoldswick and District on August 21st 1948.