Prescot and the Football League

This piece looks at the lofty ambitions of the Prescot Cables’ directors to join the Football League. It appeared in the programme for the visit of Tadcaster Albion on 10th February 2018. 

In February 1928, the Prescot Reporter reported the sensational news that Fleetwood had taken the decision to resign their place in the Lancashire Combination in mid-season, after 22 games, and that Prescot had been invited to join the league, take over Fleetwood’s existing record and to fulfil their remaining fixtures. As Prescot’s Liverpool County Combination side was to continue, the club had to hurriedly sign up some new players capable of playing in this higher sphere of football. This was achieved, and on Saturday February 18th 1928, a large crowd witnessed the return of Lancashire Combination fixtures to Hope Street.

Prescot eventually finished the season in 16th position, and it was considered a satisfactory introduction to higher grade football. The ambitious club and their followers looked forward to great things in the near future.

Before the 1928/29 season began, it was proposed that, to repay the debt of gratitude owed to the B.I., the Prescot club should change their name to Prescot Cables Association Football Club. Opinions were divided on the issue, but eventually a majority was in favour and the new name was adopted. This might be considered a forerunner to the commercial sponsorships of today and served to remind people everywhere of the Town’s most famous industry.

Such was the committee’s confidence in their team and the future that, for the 1929/30 season, Prescot Cables applied to join the Third Division (North) of the Football League.  At the League’s Annual General Meeting, Hartlepools United were re-elected to league (33 votes), but Ashington (14 votes) failed to secure re-election and were replaced in the Third Division North by York City (24 votes).

Cables (1 vote), along with Mansfield Town (16), Manchester Central (2), Rhyl Athletic (0), Chester (0) and Workington (0) all failed to impress the league clubs sufficiently to secure enough votes to gain election. Connah’s Quay and Shotton United withdrew their application prior to the vote.

Unfortunately, the identity of the club which voted for Cables in that election is not recorded.

The 1929/30 season was a moderate one for the Cables, the side eventually finishing in sixth spot in the Lancashire Combination, behind champions Lancaster Town.  However, this did not stop the ambitious board from again applying for admittance to the Football League. On this occasion the bottom two sides, Halifax Town (40 votes) and Barrow (22 votes) were re-elected to Division Three North, with Mansfield Town (15) and Manchester Central (13) again failing to gain sufficient votes. Sadly, this time round Cables did not secure a single vote in their favour.

In October 1931, Wigan Borough were forced to resign their place in the Football League Third Division (North) after they were unable to satisfy the demands of the League to meet their liabilities, including loan interest and arrears of wages to players. It was widely expected that Manchester Central would be invited to assume Wigan Borough’s place in the division, but this was quashed by the league management committee, following objections from first division Manchester City and second division Manchester United, who feared the impact of a third league club in the City.

On October 31st, the Daily Herald reported that Prescot Cables and Macclesfield Town, the unbeaten leaders of the Cheshire League, had both applied for admission to the Northern Section to replace Wigan Borough, (in the same way that Prescot had taken over Fleetwood’s fixture list in the Lancashire Combination three years earlier). However, despite protests from the Northern Committee, the Football League remained adamant that no club would be considered and the season continued with 21 teams in the division.

The withdrawal of Wigan Borough led to much speculation about the financial health of many of the other clubs in the Northern section and the possibility of additional vacancies arising from bankruptcy. It was considered that a steady infusion of new blood could place the Northern section on sound foundations. It is a measure of the status of Prescot Cables at this time that they were one of several clubs being talked up by the newspapers as being potential replacements should that happen.

However, despite Cables’ good form and second place league finish it appears that the club directors decided not to make a further application to join the Football League at the end of the season, and no further applications have been made since.

Roy McDonald