In 1870, John Charles Kay at the age of 16 returned to Chapeltown from Harrow School where during his education he had enjoyed the game of football as played at the school. He was the son of James Kay who in 1857 had inherited the Tower and Manorial Rights of Turton from his father James, a successful cotton spinner from Entwisle.
John Charles Kay was keen to partake in football as played at Harrow and he liaised with the schoolmaster of St Annes, Mr W T Dixon to establish a local football club for the township of Turton. A meeting was held in the old schoolhouse in December 1871 when 48 members enrolled each paying a subscription of one shilling (5p). A committee was selected from the members with James Kay as President, W T Dixon as Secretary/Treasurer and John Charles Kay as Team Captain.
|The Old School House, Chapeltown|
|Mr W T Dixon|
During the mid-1800s most public schools played some form of football generally allowing limited handling of a cheese-shaped ball, and as early as 1843 Cambridge University had attempted to standardise and codify the rules of play. After a series of meetings of mainly London clubs in 1863 the English Football Association was formed and produced some rules for a game played with spherical ball which players were prohibited from handling except for the 'goalkeeper'. In July 1871 the Association introduced a challenge cup for its members which remains the FA Cup.
These FA Rules were favoured by John Charles Kay and adopted by Turton FC at a general meeting in August 1874. The implications of the new rules took some time to correctly interpret and in October 1876, when the details were finally settled, the club enrolled in the FA for an annual subscription of 5s (25p). The first match using the new rules was against Darwen on the 6th October, 1876. Turton FC were very much the pioneers of the FA rules in Lancashire and were instrumental in initiating the technicalities of the regulations to many other clubs in the Bolton, Darwen and Blackburn areas; this included Christ Church FC who later became Bolton Wanderers.
In 1876, Mr W T Dixon had the notion of forming a country league and this possibility was discussed with Mr J Lewis and Mr T Hindle of Darwen FC in the Volunteer Inn, Bromley Cross on the 6th October of that year. This meeting was followed with a much larger assembly arranged by T Hindle in the Co-operative Hall, Darwen on the 28th September 1878 when the Lancashire Association of Football Clubs was formed using the FA rules. Turton FC became a member of the new Association and W T Dixon was its Honorary Treasurer for the first four years.
When the Football League was formed at Manchester in 1888, of the twelve original clubs, half were from Lancashire but Turton was not amongst them. The village club found that they were unable to compete with the more professional teams from large towns and cities and within two decades they had drifted down into local amateur football.
John Charles Kay left Turton and moved of Leaminton in 1877 where he played cricket for Warwickshire and later became involved in lawn-tennis until his death at the age of 75 in 1929. His father died in 1888 and the Kay family sold Turton Tower with its diminished manorial authority two years later to the Appleton sisters of Horrobin Mill. Mr W T Dixon was headmaster of St Annes School for 40 years. The football field at Chapeltown remains and is claimed by some historians to be oldest pitch in the country with a continuous tradition of football since 1872. It also accommodated part of the annual Turton Fair during the Bolton September Holidays until 1936.
|Recent aerial photograph outlining the football field and|
adjacent smaller Horse Field which accommodated the
annual Turton Fair for several centuries
References'The Oldest Football Pitch in England'. Friends of Turton Tower
Turton Local History Society publications 'Turton Tales II', 'Horrobin Mill' & 'Turton Fair'
The following images are taken from 'History of Turton Football Club', the cover of which is the first image below.
|History of Turton Football Club|
W. T. Dixon, 1909
|Turton Football Club - Fixtures 1909|
|J. J. Bentley Secretary of Turton F.C. 1882-3|
also President of the Club
and President of the English League in 1908
|J. J. Haworth Secretary of Turton F.C.|
1883-4 (part), 1892-93
and Member L.F.A