Kiveton Park FC – Famous Players

In 1940, The Empire News reported that, pro rata, the village had turned out more professional football players than anywhere in England, apart from the Shropshire town of Oakengates.

The following players came through the ranks at Kiveton Park Football Club before moving into the professional game :

Walter Wigmore

Gloucestershire born Walter Wigmore is one of Birmingham City’s greatest ever players, having spent thirteen years in the Midlands, but the tough centre-half started his playing days with Kiveton Park. Wigmore moved to Kiveton as a child in the 1870’s, and in his teenage years he became a mainstay in the village football team. He moved on to Worksop Town and even played a few games in the Football League for Sheffield United in the mid-1890s, but it looked as though his football career would be a relatively unremarkable one.

It was in 1896, after joining newly elected Football League club Gainsborough Trinity, that Wigmore’s career really kicked off. He developed a formidable partnership with Scotsman Bob McRoberts up front for the Lincolnshire side, scoring 45 goals in his three years at the Northolme.

McRoberts moved to Small Heath in 1898, with Wigmore following him to Muntz Street a year later. There, the front line partnership was split up when, in an emergency, Wigmore was played at centre-half. He never looked back, making the position his own, and keeping it for nearly a decade.

During Wigmore’s time in the Midlands, Small Heath changed their name to Birmingham FC in 1905, and two years later moved to St. Andrew’s, evolving into the Birmingham City club we see today. Wigmore was a hugely important player in the team during this era, and as captain led the side to two promotions from the old Second Division in 1901 and 1903.

He was often penalised for dangerous play due to his unusual reluctance to head the ball, preferring to use his feet however high the ball came to him – it is unsurprising that Walter was the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup tie for the club. He was nearly 39 when making the last of his 350+ appearances for the Blues, in 1912.

William Ross

When Kiveton left the Sheffield & District League in 1893, Chesterfield saw fit to snap up young Park forward William Ross. He soon became a regular starter, and hit 13 goals in 18 games in his only season with the Spireites – Sheffield United signed him on in 1895.

At First Division United, Ross struggled to hold down a regular slot in the team, and he ended up plying his trade in the Second Division with the likes of Lincoln City, Notts County, Grimsby Town and Glossop – scoring over 50 Football League goals in a 13 year professional career.

Herbert Chapman

After winning the Hatchard League with Kiveton in 1894, Herbert Chapman was to embark on a nomadic playing career that just about paid the bills. Though he did play for the likes of Grimsby, Northampton, Sheffield United and Tottenham, he also wasn’t averse to dropping to the non-league game to pay his way. But while his career as a player might be best described as that of a journeyman, his move into coaching and management proved a masterstroke.

His first job came with his old club, Northampton Town, who he led to the Southern League title in 1909. Increasingly agitated that his club weren’t allowed into the Football League, he had his first taste of league management during a war-interrupted spell at Leeds City, before moving on to Huddersfield Town in 1921.

A year after taking over, he led the Terriers to their first ever major honour – the FA Cup – and he didn’t stop there. Transforming the club from one at the foot of the Division 1 table, Chapman led Huddersfield to two successive league titles, as well as laying the foundations for a third, before leaving for Arsenal in 1925.

Lured by bright lights of London, Herbert was determined to prove wrong those who thought his stint at Huddersfield had been a flash in the pan. Arsenal’s league form during his first five years at Highbury was somewhat ordinary, a runners-up spot in his first year being followed up by four mid-table finishes. But he did make strides in the FA Cup, and after losing a final in 1927, he secured Arsenal’s first cup win in 1930.

And that was just the beginning – over the next five years, Chapman transformed Arsenal into the greatest side the game had ever seen, winning an unprecedented four league titles.

And his record wasn’t just one of winning trophies – his overall legacy still impacts on the game today.

He was among the first to make use of physiotherapists and masseurs, and encouraged his players to socialise in extra-curricular activities such as golf.

Unlike many of his contemporaries in Britain, Herbert was a fan of the continental game and counted among his friends Hugo Meisl and Jimmy Hogan, coaches of the Austrian “Wunderteam” of the 1930s. Chapman had proposed a Europe-wide club competition more than twenty years before the European Cup was instituted, and regularly took his teams abroad to play foreign sides. He was also one of the first managers to consider signing foreign players.

After attending a night-time match in Belgium in 1930, Chapman became an early advocate of floodlights – installing a set on Highbury’s new West Stand when it was constructed in 1932. He is also credited with being behind the renaming of London Underground’s Gillespie Road station to Arsenal, as well as advocating the use of white footballs and numbered shirts, as well as adding hoops to Arsenal’s socks to make it easier for players to pick each other out.

He later made a further change to Arsenal’s kit, adding white sleeves to the previously all-red shirt and brightening the colour, before a match against Liverpool on 4 March 1933; the same kit theme of red with white sleeves or trim survives to this day. The tradition of both teams walking out together at the FA Cup Final was started in 1930 due to Herbert’s involvement with both clubs, and has continued since.

Harry Chapman

Although overshadowed by his older brother Herbert’s managerial career, Harry was much the better player, and could probably lay claim to being the best the village has ever produced. He played for his local club during the late 1890s before moving onto Worksop Town, where he was soon started to make a name for himself as a right winger with some pedigree.

The Wednesday signed him on in the summer of 1899, but he had to bide his time in the reserves before getting a crack at first team football – when the opportunity finally came his way in the spring of 1901, he never looked back.

Harry scored 10 goals in his first full season, and it wasn’t long before critics were calling for him to be included in the England side. His partnership on the wing with Harry Davis went down in Wednesday folklore, between them scoring 45 goals as the Blades, as they were then known, clinched back-to-back league titles in 1902 and 1903 – in the latter campaign the man from Kiveton finished top scorer with 17 goals.

Although often beset by a knee injury (he had a cartilage that would ‘come loose’ that required him to pop it back into place mid-game), his talent more than made up for his eventual loss of speed, and although his season appearances started to drop, he remained more than a match for any full-back on his day.

In 1907, when most thought him past his best, Harry almost single-handedly won the FA Cup for Wednesday with an outstanding performance in the final at the Crystal Palace. Setting up both goals in a 2-1 win, the wee winger was carried off the pitch by his team-mates before lifting the cup.

Harry left Wednesday in 1911 (having scored 11 goals in 18 appearances that season) to join Hull City as player-manager. He wasn’t able to re-create the success his brother was achieving on the managerial front, and Harry soon dropped out of the game. His story had a sad ending, as he died at the age of just 36 after contracting tuberculosis years earlier.

Herbert Morley

Although Herbert and Harry Chapman remain the two most famous footballers to hail from Kiveton, only one man from the village managed to play football internationally – Herbert Morley.

Morley’s sole cap – for England against Ireland in 1910 – was the pinnacle of an 11 year long professional career which began as a striker with Kiveton before earning a move to Grimsby Town in 1904. Morley was converted to a defender while at Blundell Park, and after three years with the Division Two outfit, he earned a move to top flight Notts County.

Nottingham was to be Morley’s home until the outbreak of the First World War, and was a first team regular for the vast majority of that time. He remained at Meadow Lane after the war, acting as a scout.

Jack Butler
After playing alongside his brother James for Kiveton at the turn of the 20th century, Jack moved on to play for Grimsby Town and Plymouth Argyle.

Levi Copestake

Another man who joined the professional ranks via Kiveton and Worksop, winger Levi Copestake played in the Football League for both Blackpool and Bristol City during the early part of the 20th century.

Leslie Hofton

Along with Harry Chapman, Leslie Hofton is one of only two products of Kiveton Park to win a Football League title. The full-back claimed the honour while a squad player at Manchester United in 1911, a year after becoming the Reds’ record signing when moving from Glossop for the grand sum of £1,000. He had joined Glossop after impressing in non-league football at Kiveton, Worksop and Denaby United – the club where he ended his playing days after the end of World War One.

Joseph Smith

Tenacious defender Joseph Smith joined Kiveton Park from Worksop Town in the early 1900s, but soon moved on to sign amateur forms at Sheffield United. He stayed at Bramall Lane for six years, providing cover at full-back, before moving on to South Shields, and then Derby County, where he retired to start his own business in 1914.

Tom Doncaster

Retford-born Tom Doncaster started his footballing career at Kiveton in 1910 before moving on to sign for Football League side Barnsley a year later. After making only three appearances for the Oakwell side, Doncaster moved to sign for Southern League outfit Cardiff City.

Clive Wigmore

Clive Wigmore left Kiveton for Barnsley in 1911, making 63 appearances for the Tykes before moving on to Aston Villa, where he was a reserve team regular, and finally to Gillingham, where he finished his professional playing days.

Ted Thorpe

Kiveton lad Ted Thorpe started with his home village club in 1912 as a 15 year old full-back, and his sterling performances soon attracted interest from the higher classes – The Wednesday finally securing his signature during the First World War. He made dozens of appearances for the Sheffield club in the war leagues before moving on to Lincoln City after hostilities ended, making his Football League debut and winning the Midland League.

He later moved on to Doncaster Rovers and York City before ending his professional playing days at Reading in 1924.

Joby Godfrey

Joby Godfrey left Kiveton for the professional ranks in 1914, signing for Nottingham Forest before the First World War put his burgeoning career on hold.

After the war, Godfrey played for four league sides,  including Coventry City and Manchester City.

Tom Sayles

Tom Sayles played for Kiveton before the First World War, and when hostilities ended he began a career in the professional ranks. He made 20 appearances for Barnsley before spending four successful seasons at Southend United.

Ted Linley

Ted Linley won the Second Division championship with Birmingham in 1921 just a year after leaving Kiveton Park. He remained in the top flight at St. Andrew’s for six years before spending a year at Nottingham Forest.

Norman Dinsdale

After appearing for Kiveton through the First World War, Norman Dinsdale progressed to the professional game via Anston Athletic, his home club. From there he signed for Notts County, where he nailed down a spot in defence. In 1923 he helped his side win the Second Division North title, and with it a crack at the top flight.

In 1927 he moved on again, to Coventry City, where he spent three years before ending his playing days at Bristol Rovers in 1932.

Edmund Harvey

After appearing for Kiveton in FA Cup run of 1922, winger Edmund Harvey moved on to sign for Birmingham. The spell in the Midlands wasn’t a success and he signed for Midland League side York City for a two year period. He made his return to the Football League with Bradford City, appearing in their Division Three North title winning side of 1929.

Albert Sissons

Albert started off with Kiveton as an 18 year old. Within a year, the outside right had earned himself at the mighty Arsenal, but eventually had to ‘settle’ for a professional contract with Doncaster Rovers. At Doncaster, Sissons played nearly a century of games in the Third Division North before securing a move to top flight Leeds United.

At Elland Road, he struggled to become a permanent fixture in the first team, and after playing 30 games in three years, he moved on to Southport, and then Northampton Town, before ending his playing days at Worksop Town.

His son Graham also played professionally, for Birmingham City and Peterborough United.

Eric Oakton

Eric Oakton was a young member of Kiveton Park’s Sheffield Minor Cup winning side of 1924, and within months he was playing for Football League side Grimsby Town, such was his reputation in local circles as a nifty winger with an eye for goal. He remained an amateur in his time at Blundell Park, signing his first professional forms with fellow Division Three North side Rotherham United in 1926. Up to 1931, his progression in the game had ground to a halt, Oakton often having to drop back to non-league sides to get a game, but a move to Bristol Rovers at the age of 25 was to revitalise his career. There he hit 10 goals in 42 games, earning a move to Division side Chelsea just a year later.

Eric spent five years at Stamford Bridge, building a partnership with the legendary Hughie Gallacher that brought goals galore. In 1934 Oakton hit 15 crucial goals that probably kept Chelsea from relegation. In his half decade in West London he made over 100 appearances and scored 30 goals.

He moved onto Nottingham Forest in 1937 before ending his career at Boston United.

Alf Hale

Left-half Alf Hale left Kiveton for Lincoln City in 1925, and over the course of five years would make over 150 appearances for the Imps. He contributed to a runners-up spot in the Third Division North in 1928, and also played for Luton Town and Halifax Town in a long professional career.

Bernard Waring

Bernard Waring first featured for KPFC in 1926, and trialled with Wolverhampton Wanderers before signing terms with Southend United in 1929. He made just one Football League appearance with the south-east club before returning home a year later to sign for Worksop Town.

Wayne Hall

Rotherham born Wayne Hall started his career at Darlington, but having failed to make the grade there he moved back to his home area to play non-league football, playing for Kiveton during the 1987/88. After another move, to Hatfield Main, he was given a second chance as a professional with York City, and it was a match made in heaven for Hall.

Over the course of 12 years at Bootham Crescent, Hall played over 370 times for the Minstermen, cementing himself a place in the clubs record books, and becoming a fans hero – a fanzine was even named ‘Ginner’s Left Foot’ after the popular left-back.

His finest hour came in 1993, when he scored the winning spot-kick in the Third Division play-off final to win York promotion. He retired in 2002 after a stint at Gainsborough Trinity.


Alan Kamara

Swashbuckling full-back Alan Kamara as a teenager in the Yorkshire League before being swiftly snapped up by York City in 1979. He spent a year at Bootham Crescent before moving further north to Darlington, where he would make over 130 appearances in three years, before dropping down to non-league to play for Burton Albion.

He would get another chance at playing in the Football League however, signing for Scarborough in 1987, becoming a mainstay of their defence for a further three years, before closing out his playing days at Halifax Town in 1993.


Andy Rowland

After being released as a trainee by home town club Torquay United, forward Andy Rowland moved north to continue his playing career at Kiveton Park while studying at university. He eventually moved back home and earned himself a deal at Southampton, before returning to finally play for Torquay. He came on as a substitute in Torquay’s 1991 Division 4 play-off final win at Wembley.