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The history of Quorn Havelock FC

Loughborough Echo 8th Feb 1935

Great excitement prevailed among the youth of Quorn on an autumn day in the early 1880s when the original football club in the village held their first practice. This was played on the field which has now been converted into the park.

It was fitting that this historic sporting event should be attended by some slight ceremonial, and a well-known hunting man, Mr C W ("Jumbo") Martin, who then lived in the adjoining house, Quorn Place, kindly consented to kick off.

This early club survived for three or four years, but football was not firmly established in the village until 1888. In that year a few enterprising sportsmen including Herbert Gamble, Bob Fewkes, Frank Pell and George Preston, held a meeting at the old Havelock coffee house, and a new club was formed, which adopted the name of the Havelock in honour of their first headquarters.

The first ground was in a field off Love Lane, kindly placed at their disposal, free of rent, by a well-known farmer, Mr John Barker. Later for a short period they played in the meadow where Mansfield Street now stands. For the major portion of the life of the club, however, their playing piece was on Stafford Orchard, and the "Pig and Whistle" was their headquarters.

In their first season they entered for the Junior Cup, and were drawn to play at Kegworth. They made the journey in style in a four horse waggonette and, on arrival, they found the men of Kegworth brimming over with confidence.

One of the Quorn supporters, Bill Dalby, was also in an optimistic mood and, pointing to the four horses of the brake, he declared with conviction that there was a goal on every horse. This proved to be a remarkably accurate forecast, for Quorn ran out easy winners by four goals to none.

They were beaten in the second round by Leicester Fosse Reserves, but the town team made the sad error of playing the captain of their first eleven, and Quorn's protest being upheld, the match was awarded to them. They found Loughborough Athletic too strong for them in the third round, but two years later they reached the final when, however, they again had to admit defeat at the hands of a Loughborough club, the Swifts.

After a few seasons in the North Leicestershire League, the Havelock joined the newly formed Loughborough and District League in 1896. One of their most prominent players at this period was the centre-half, J W Davis.

On the outbreak of the Boer War he joined the Yeomanry, and was one of the members of the regiment to be killed. He was very popular in local sporting circles and to commemorate his death a tablet was placed in the south aisle of the church by the sportsmen of the village.

The standard of play before the war in the Loughborough and District League was a high one, and a sustained effort supplemented by real skill was necessary to win the championship. In 1907-8 the Havelock, after many valiant attempts, succeeded in heading the table.

The captain of the winning team was J Ball, and other prominent players were S Rue, one of the finest centre-halves in local football, and Bang Neal, who, in one season scored 81 goals for the Havelock.

At a later date "Jumbo" Harris took his place at centre-forward, and when J Ball's long period of captaincy came to an end he was succeeded by O Lovett, the right back. Another reliable defender was W Lovett, who was eventually acquired by Loughborough Corinthians.

To celebrate the winning of the League championship a match was arranged between Quorn, and a team composed of Barrow and Mountsorrel players. This resulted in a draw, and afterwards the cup was formally presented to the Quorn captain by Mr Sydney Wright.

This meritorious performance was a great encouragement to the players, to the indefatigable secretary, Mr J Pagett, and to the other hard working officials with whom the club was always well provided.

The comparatively limited means of transport available before the war usually resulted in the players travelling together to and from their away matches. Sometimes when the time arrived to board brake or train for the return journey, anxiety was caused by the absence of one of the eleven.

On one occasion after a cup match against Leicester Imperial, when the last train was nearly due to leave, there was no trace of the outside-left. A hasty search party was organised which was successful, in the nick of time, in fortuitously locating the missing forward in a greengrocer's shop.

In this strangely selected retreat he was resting among numerous baskets of Brussel sprouts, sublimely indifferent to the demands of time tables and trains. After a gentle reprimand from officials, this strayer from the fold was persuaded to make a move towards the station, where they arrived as the whistle blew.

One of the great occasions in Quorn football was in 1911 when they reached the semi-final of the Senior Cup, and were drawn to play Hinckley United on the Fosse ground. So great was the interest aroused in the village that a special train was chartered from Quorn to Leicester, and over 500 people took advantage of the extra facilities provided.

The Hinckley team was so confident that they presented the men of Quorn with a funeral card, whereon was depicted a hearse, presumably destined to contain the "corpse" of their vanquished rivals. Unfortunately, their optimism proved to be fully justified, and Quorn were beaten by seven goals to two.

The following year, however, Quorn, by beating Coalville P.S.A in the final of the Rolleston Cup accomplished one of their outstanding performances. The village turned out in strength to welcome the triumphant team on their return from Whitwick, where the final was played.

As the brake drove through the village, the captain, J Ball, was hoisted on the shoulders of the players, and held the cup well above his head, so that the eager crowd could have a satisfactory view of the trophy. Celebrations were carried on at the headquarters, the "Pig and Whistle", until 11 o'clock, and were then continued until the small hours at the house of one of the most fervent supporters of the club.

A year later they reached the final of the Senior Cup and were only beaten after a very hard match by Coalville Town by one goal to nothing.

One of the most successful seasons in the history of the club was that immediately following the war. For the second time they won the championship of the Loughborough and District League, while their adventurous career in the Senior Cup is worthy of reference. In the third round they were drawn to play at Coalville, and had an unpleasant journey to the colliery town in a waggonette. The snow was some inches deep, and the road treacherous, and at each hill the players had to get out of the brake and wrap bags round the wheels to provide a firmer grip.

It was not surprising that they could not produce their best form when they took the field, and they were easily beaten by seven goals to one. Coalville, however, made the mistake of playing several ineligible players with the inevitable result that the match was awarded to Quorn.

In the next round they played the City Reserves on the Filbert Street ground and, once again, the village turned out in great strength to support the Havelock. Although they were beaten 7-2, they were somewhat consoled by the fact that they shared the largest gate in their history.

It was a great blow to the club when they had to leave their old ground on Stafford Orchard, and make a fresh start on Barrow Road. After this change they never seemed to prosper, interest gradually flagged, and the players began to lose the keenness and enthusiasm which for 30 years had kept the Havelock in the forefront of local teams.

At a meeting held in 1926 to consider the future, there was a very poor attendance, and little enthusiasm was shown. The directors therefore had no alternative, and were compelled to decide on the abandonment of the senior Quorn club, which for so many years had provided the village with football of a good standard.

 Submitted on: 2010-01-19
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 722
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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