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Tom Abley, Footballer 1903-1914 (avfc 1905-1907).

Brummie On Exmoor

master brummie
I would be very grateful for any help, advice or pointers anyone can give me on the following:

Tom ABLEY, a distant cousin, was born in Dudley in early 1888, and later moved to Selly Oak with his family. In 1903, he began playing football with Selly Oak Athletic Club. He went to Bournbrook FC the following season and then to Aston Villa for 2 seasons between 1905 and 1907. Whilst there, he played in a Junior International between England and Scotland, which was played at Villa Park. (England won 2-0). He would have been about 17 or 18 years old. From 1907-1908, he played for Stourbridge FC.

In 1908, he moved to South Wales, and won the South Wales League with the short-lived Mardy AFC, before moving on again for a season to Treharris Athletic FC, and finally to Cardiff City FC for the 1910-1911 season. He was still at Cardiff in 1913, when he became too ill to continue in football, and retired, dying in Cardiff in May 1914.

I have found a reasonable amount online about the Welsh clubs, but can find very little about Selly Oak and Bournbrook. All I know about them is from a newspaper cutting in Welsh Newspaper Archives, giving a short bio of Tom. He was a Striker, and had a good haul of goals to his name apparently. I have seen newspaper reports of games he played in for Mardy and Treharris which show this.

Please, does anyone know about these 2 Midland teams, or about Tom. Where were the grounds? Would he have been an amateur, playing for them. What about when he played for Villa or for Cardiff? In the 1911 Census, he was described as a Labourer, employed by Cardiff City FC. Was this how a footballer would have been described in those days? Would he have been an Apprentice in the Villa set-up, or played for a Youth Team?

All suggestions most gratefully received!

Kind regards,

Jane
 

MWS

master brummie
A cousin of my great grandfather's played for the Villa from 1906 - 1918, on the 1911 census he was listed as a Professional Footballer.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
It looks like Sturbridge played in the Birmingham League, and in 1908 were in financial difficulties. Players were demanding high wages and big clubs were taking the talent.

Nothing Changes!

CF769080-B87F-445E-88B6-66742AAEB62F.jpeg
 

Brummie On Exmoor

master brummie
Thank you very much for these really interesting items. Were they all from the 'Sports Argus'? Also for your info, MSW.

I attach a cutting from the "Evening Express", a Welsh newspaper, which gives the bio of Tom. From your cuttings, it does suggest that he may have been at Bournbrook rather longer than the Express article suggests.

Do you have any insight please, into the 'amateur' v 'professional' aspects of the game at the time? Is it possible that if he was NOT a professional (unlike in MSW's example), he had to do another job, such as labouring, to keep himself financially afloat whilst he was playing, perhaps on the periphery of a bigger club, or for a smaller amateur outfit.

I have ordered Tom's Death Certificate from May-June 1914. I will post again when I find out the Cause of Death.


Tom ABLEY, Treharris AFC: "Evening Express (Final Football Edition)" 12 February 1910..png
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Seems to me that he would be a semi-professional, and would have to record his primary employment on the census. Villa may have had a few junior teams, and it looks like Abley may have just reached the Reserves and may still be classed as semi.

The chap sited by MWS may well have played for Villa first team, and that would be his primary profession.
 

MWS

master brummie
Thanks for the clipping B on E, very interesting. At 5' 11 he must have been tall for the time.

Pedro may very well have it right. Not sure if teams were all fully professional or a mixture of amateurs and professionals, a bit like cricket.

You could check out other Cardiff players and see what they list their profession as. David McDougall who played for Cardiff seems to be listed as a footballer in 1911.

My Villa relative did play for the first team - George Tranter.
 

Brummie On Exmoor

master brummie
Thank you both, yes this really makes sense - as you say Pedro, it was not his PRIMARY job in 1911. So my question about having to take another job if you were on the periphery of a big club is about right. I think he WAS a Professional and was 1st team by the end of his career, as he features in a list on Wikipedia of Cardiff City players who played for the team, and he is in the '25-99 games played' cut (see attached). And when his daughter was Christened in Cardiff in 1913, his occupation was given as Professional Footballer.

And yes, I have a suspicion he was very tall for a lad from a working class background at the time. I routinely enter heights on to my Family Tree, from (esp. WW1) Army records, Prison & Transportation records (!!) and other descriptions, and when I put Tom's height on, it was the tallest of anyone on the Tree!

Tom ABLEY: Profile at Cardiff City..png

Thank you again both for your help and advice.

I am still very interested in any information about Selly Oak Athletic and Bournbrook. Do you have any idea where their games were played, and if they had an HQ? Are there any pictures, or descriptions of their colours?

Thank you again,

Regards,

Jane
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Selly Oak Athletic first mention found is 1900. The club played cricket and athletics.

1916 played in the div3 of the Victoria League.
 

Alberta

Super Moderator
Staff member
On the 1911 census Thomas Abley was lodging in Cardiff, single, occupation given as Labourer,employer,Cardiff City Football club.
He was registered Tom in 1888 by parents Samuel and Keturah. but after that referred to as Thomas. He married Emily Taylor in 1913.
 

Brummie On Exmoor

master brummie
Yes, the description of Tom as a Labourer, but employed by Cardiff City FC in 1911, is one of the puzzles that I had at the beginning of this Post. Pedro, writing above, suggested that this was because the Census requires the writer to provide their PRIMARY job, and he was not fully professional at that point.

In some items he is called Thomas, but in the vast majority, including most of the newspaper items about him in Wales, he is referred to as Tom.

Tom's story is tragic. He married Emily Jane in Q2 1913, and they had a daughter, Keturah Emily (named after Tom's mother), in late autumn 1913. When she was Christened on 13 November, Tom was described as a Professional Footballer. Then Tom himself died in May 1914, having had to leave Cardiff City because of poor health during the previous season (and I have undertaken to post about his Death Certificate when I receive it). Then Emily Jane died in September 1917. They were both in their mid 20s. They are both buried at Llandaff Cathedral in Glamorgan. And finally, Keturah Emily died in Q1 1926, aged only 12.

Regards,

Jane
 

Brummie On Exmoor

master brummie
As promised, here is the content of Tom ABLEY's Death Certificate. It is rather as I feared.

Tom ABLEY died on 29 May 1914, at 71, Leckwith Road, Cardiff, aged 26 years. His occupation on the Death Certificate is 'Professional Footballer'. The cause of death was 1. Pulmonary Consumption and 2. Exhaustion. Emily Jane, his young widow, registered his death.

Regards,

Jane
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
As promised, here is the content of Tom ABLEY's Death Certificate. It is rather as I feared.

Tom ABLEY died on 29 May 1914, at 71, Leckwith Road, Cardiff, aged 26 years. His occupation on the Death Certificate is 'Professional Footballer'. The cause of death was 1. Pulmonary Consumption and 2. Exhaustion. Emily Jane, his young widow, registered his death.


Regards,

Jane
so it was the dreaded TB that took tom so young then jane...i see that wife emily died 3 years later..would hazzard a guess of the same thing as TB was so prevalent right up until at least the 1950s..very sad

lyn
 
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