FOOTBALL NOSTALGIA...The rise and fall of Dalton Nibs

FOOTBALL NOSTALGIA...The rise and fall of Dalton Nibs

By David Beddows | 10/12/2020

FOOTBALL NOSTALGIA...The rise and fall of Dalton Nibs

 

WHEN older local football followers reminisce about the stand-out teams from yesteryear, certain names always crop up.

 

Centralians from the late 1960s and Thurcroft Hotel from the 1990s enjoyed success in their respective eras as did another club recently featured in the Advertiser, Rawmarsh Welfare.

 

Joker have lifted countless trophies in a history stretching back 50 years and remain at the top of the Sunday game alongside AFP.

But there is another intriguingly named team which some people still mention today.

Dalton “Nibs” won a place in the hearts of footballer followers in their corner of Rotherham in the 1920s and their story has been preserved and revived by local football historian Chris Eyre.

 

Drawing on his research and documents that might otherwise have been thrown away, he has been able to map out the journey of a club that was originally stitched together from players not really wanted by other teams but which eventually included a winger, Arthur Hetherington, who went on to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Preston North End.

 

“As Dalton Nibs started in 1919 and played mainly in the 1920s, then I doubt that there is still anybody alive that saw them play, let alone play for them,” says Chris.

 

“Who were they and why do people still talk about them? Like most things over the years, bits get added onto their history, mostly incorrect items, so I want to try and try and get the record correct.”

 

The team's original correct name was Dalton Juniors. They were formed in 1919 by local Dalton lads who could not get into the other local teams like Whinney Hill St Peters, Thrybergh St Leonards and various Rawmarsh area teams. 

 

Playing home games on a ground at Dalton, “Nibs” joined the Rotherham Boys League, which was a league for U16s.

“For some reason, the team captured the imagination of the locals who turned out to watch them play,” explains Chris. “These locals soon nicknamed them the 'Nibs'.

 

“The reason why they did so has been lost over the years. At that time there was also another top junior team called Garrowtree Nibs. In the dictionary, 'His Nibs' refers to an important man, especially in authority. However, I suspect it was more likely a local word used for a youth, like the word 'nipper'.


“Though often referred to as Dalton Nibs in the press and by locals, the team's official name which they played under was Dalton Juniors. They never actually played under the title Dalton 'Nibs'.”

Former Dalton player Arthur Hetherington gives tips to young Rotherham players (left to right) Chris Rabjohn, Richard Lee, Derrick Allen, and Trevor Morritt using football studs.

 

For season 1920/21, Dalton moved to the Rotherham Junior League, winning its cup competition.

 

The following season, they turned out two teams — one in the Junior League and one in the Minor League — and really gained some momentum.

 

Dalton won the Junior League and Cup, playing 285 games, winning 21 and drawing four. They netted 98 goals, the main scorer being George Jowett, who later became known as a top goal getter for Silverwood Colliery.

For the next two seasons they continued turning teams out but in 1924 there was a problem.

“They lost their ground because it was taken over by the Silverwood Colliery team,” says Chris. “However, the landlord of the Foljambe Arms, W. Tyrrell, offered them the pitch at the side of his establishment for the 1924/25 season. Without this offer, the team would have folded. Also, because of this, they changed their name to Dalton & Eastwood United.”


As it turned out, 1924/25 became a record-breaking season for the one-time “Nibs”.


They won the Rotherham Charity Cup, Maltby Charity Cup, Rotherham Challenge Cup, the Minor League Championship and the new Rotherham FA Association Cup. This was the first season of that competition, and the new cup, which is still played for today, being donated by that man Mr Tyrrell.


For the next two seasons Dalton only ran one side, playing in the newly formed Rotherham Association League, which they won in 1926/27.


The following season their luck was well and truly out, finishing runners-up in the Rotherham Charity Cup, Rotherham Challenge Cup and the Rotherham FA Association Cup.


In the Association Cup final they were leading Wilton Albion 3-0 when the game was abandoned. They lost the replay 2-0.
The 1929/30 saw Dalton move headquarters to Eastwood WMC whose name they now played under. They again had two teams, one in the Sheffield Association league and one in the Rotherham Minor League.


Eastwood had no success until 1932/33, by which time they had moved their headquarters back to the Foljambe and reverted back to using the Dalton and Eastwood United name. 


They had teams in the Rotherham Minor League and the newly formed Rotherham Senior League in which they finished as runners-up, but the end was nigh.


In what turned out to be their last game, they beat Kimberworth OB 5-2 in the final of the Rotherham Charity Cup and because of low finances they folded at the end of the 1932/33 season.


It was the last act of a club whose origins trace right back to a group of lads who started out as the “Nibs”.

 

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ONE member of the Dalton team went on to bigger and better things — and a tough experience in France with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Arthur Hetherington, an old fashioned left winger, had started out with the so-called Dalton “Nibs” and played for Mexborough Athletic and then Denaby United in the Midland League before getting his chance in the Football League with Wolves in 1929.


Football historian Chris Eyre, who has researched Dalton “Nibs'” history, noted that Arthur scored a hat-trick against Huddersfield Town in only six minutes. 


“It must be close to a record and Wolves won 5-1,” notes Chris.

Arthur Hetherington in his Wolves kit.

Arthur toured France and Italy with Wolves in 1933 and a newspaper cutting from their match in Marseilles reveals that the Rotherham lad and his team-mates were singled out for some rough treatment by the French.

“The players stripped in the hotel and went to the ground by taxi,” the reporter noted.


“The ground itself was bad. It was surrounded by 12ft of strong barbed wire put there to keep the crowd from interfering with the play or players.


“The Marseilles team kicked and tripped at every opportunity and were rarely penalised for it.


“It was the roughest game I have ever seen.”

Hetherington signed for Preston North End for £3,000 for the 1934/35 season and played alongside Bill Shankly. 

Two years later he joined Swinton Town for £550 and then Watford in February, 1938 for £500.

“I have about six photos of him at Wolves and he sits in the same place (on the far left, looking out) each time — obviously the left winger in him,” smiled Chris.


Later on, Arthur returned to Rotherham and managed the Rotherham United team in the Northern Intermediate League in the early 1960s.

The Rotherham United Intermediate team of 1962/63 pictured near the Railway End at Millmoor. 

He then joined up with a family member in the mid 1960s and successfully ran the Wolverhampton Wanderers Northern Intermediate team which was based, of all places, at the old Wath Athletic ground.


“Wolverhampton were obviously too far away to play in the Northern Intermediate League so playing in this area was the only way they could do it,” said Chris.


“There were a lot of local lads in that team. It was a bit like a nursery team for them.”


Arthur's son, Arthur junior, was also a winger, playing for Wickersley institute and S&H CFA Under 16 representative team. He also had games for Halifax Town Reserves in the Midland League.


Arthur's son, also called Arthur, used to live across from Chris and donated his father's photos and cuttings to him for safe keeping.