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Article by Nigel Chettle, 2017
Rushden Sports Personnel
who have played and administered sport at a higher level


Denton Twins

The Denton twins played cricket for Rushden Town Cricket Club and for the Old Wellingburians club. William played for the Northamptonshire from 1909 and had scored 4,449 runs when he retired from the county team in 1924. Brother John played from 1909 until 1919 and he had scored 3,298 runs for the County.

Their younger brother, Arthur Donald Denton also played at county level from 1914 until 1930.

Mike Dilley

One of the giants of the Northamptonshire cricket scene. Mike played Northamptonshire from 1958 until 1963 taking two hat tricks in separate matches in season 1961 against Nottinghamshire and Sussex. Returned to Rushden as Captain and led the club to three consecutive Northants County League Championships 1966 to 1968.Later moved to Irthlingborough and led them to two Championships and a one day final win at the County ground.

Eric Tompkins also played Cricket for Northamptonshire.

Charles and George Bull

George was an all-round sportsman and belonged to several clubs including the Independent Wesleyan gymnastic club and the Fosse Sports club where he played football, hockey and cricket. He once took 9 wickets without conceding a run! Both George and his brother played for the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club when J. P. Kingston was captain. Charles also played for Surrey.


John Claridge

First Secretary of the Northants Football Association, John Claridge made a number of appearances for Association as a player winning a number of competitions.

Freddy Croot

Rushden Swifts were the first club to claim Croot's services, at the age of 15 years. He operated at full back, and the following season was captured by the Town Club, with whom he played half-back for a couple of months before finding his true position at outside left. During the first season the team carried off the Northamptonshire Senior League, and "Freddy," along with his partner, Penrid (who eventually captained Northampton Town), had a great deal to do with the winning of the championship.

Before the end of the season Croot attracted the attention of the Villa, with whom he played a trial game. They were anxious to "sign him," but as he was only sixteen years of age. His parents declined to permit him to leave his native heath. As a result Croot joined Wellngborough. Thus, before he was seventeen years old, he was playing in the Southern League, and must surely have been its youngest member. Towards the end of the season the club was in such sore straits financially that the directors allowed the players to run the dub and share the "gates" among themselves—a novel way out of a difficulty. Croot had quite a shoal of offers for his services, and eventually he decided to go to Sheffield United. Aston Villa took objection, and as a result ''Freddy" had to appear before the Management Committee of the League before he was able to wear the colours of the United. At Sheffield he appeared at inside left, and was a prolific scorer with the reserves, helping them, to win the Midland League and the Wharncliffe Charity Cup.

Croot decided to migrate to a club where he would have a chance of playing in the English League team, and so in May, 1907, he became a Leeds "Citizen," and they considered themselves fortunate to secure his signature.

He  remained loyal to Leeds City, despite many tempting offers, and his great ambition at the was to see Leeds City in the First Division of the League During his stay in Leeds Croot has regularly filled the outside left position, and until the latter part of last year was never displaced by any other man. He has never been a great scorer, which is not altogether remarkable, as his mission has been to give others the opportunity of netting the ball. That he can shoot, however, various goalkeepers will readily acknowledge, and to repel a penalty kick taken by "Freddy" is an item in a custodian's career.

Andrew Fensome

Andrew Fensome was born on the18th. February 1969 at Northampton General Hospital and he attended the now defunct Pemberton Boys School. His Father is Graham Fensome of Rushden Town Cricket fame. He began his career as an apprentice at Norwich City before moving to Cambridge United. He signed for Preston North End for a £7,500 fee in October 1993 and was named as the club's Player of the Year in the 1994–95 season. In total, he made 105 appearances for the Deepdale club and scored 2 goals.

He was transferred to Rochdale in July 1996.He finished his playing career at Morecombe.

He coached at former club Preston North End and worked as a match summariser for BBC Radio Lancashire before joining Hereford United as Assistant Manager.

 Brian Hill

Although not born in Rushden, Brian Hill has lived and worked a great deal of his life in the Town.  Started at Park level and worked his way through the leagues to the Old Division 1 and the Premier League. Was selected to Referee the F.A. Cup final between Wimbledon and Liverpool in 1988. Was on the F.I.F.A list for many years. Has been Treasurer of the Rushden and District Sunday League almost since its formation. He is now a respected After Dinner Speaker.

Gordon Inwood

Born in 1920 in Rushden, Gordon Inwood joined West Bromwich Albion from his home town club Rushden Town. Also had trials at Notts County and played for Kettering Town. Made 19 appearances for West Brom and scored one goal. It was stated by Rushden that terracing on the two sides of Hayden were paid for by the Transfer fee.

Mathew Lawrence

Born in Northampton in 1974, attended Pemberton Boys School in Rushden, Lawrence began his career as a midfielder, starting out late at Grays Athletic in August 1995, age 21, having taken an American Literature degree, whilst playing college football (soccer, to distinguish from American football) in the USA for Hartwick College. In February 2009, Hartwick inducted Lawrence into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.Converted to a defender and played for Wycombe Wanderers, Fulham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Gillingham. Made over 500 league appearances.

Captained Millwall in the 2004 cup final and played in the next seasons E.U.F.A. Cup matches.

In preparation for the 2007–08 season, Lawrence wrote a weekly "pre-season diary" for The London Paper. This appeared every Monday for five weeks, a popular piece which led to him being given a regular column in the match day programme over the season.

He was signed up to write a weekly column for The Mirror.

George Sail

George Sail was born in Rushden, and played professionally for Greenock Morton in Scotland and Notts County. Played locally for Kettering Town, Corby Town and Rushden Town.

Managed Rushden Town in the early 1960s.

Eric Tomkins

In 1907 Rushden born footballer Eric Tomkins, represented the England schoolboys against Wales in the first ever schoolboy international.

Mr. Tomkins’ selection for the schoolboy XI was the advent of a great footballing career.

Mr. Tomkins played for the Cobblers between 1911-1915 and 1919-1928. During the First World War he was a guest player for Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur and was an inter-service international. He represented the RAF at both football and cricket.

He was the English FA’s chief coach for Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire from 1933-1939 and 1946-47.

He also played cricket and hockey for Northamptonshire.

Walter Tulll

He was first introduced to football at the children's home where he resided and he joined  Clapton F.C. playing in the amateur Cup Final in 1909, winning 6-0 against Eston United. He was quickly signed up by Tottenham Hotspur as a replacement for the legendry Vivian Woodward (Captain of GB Olympic Gold Medal Winners of 1908-1912 and a full soccer international). Woodward was also a Director of the Tottenham club. This is where Tull met Rushden all-round sportsman Eric Tompkins, who also played for the 'Spurs' in World War 1. Although accepted by the crowds at White Hart Lane his career was put in jeopardy by racial abuse during an away fixture at Bristol City. Tull and Tompkins joined the 'Cobblers' about 1911, signed by the famous Herbert Chapman. For some time Walter and Eric shared lodgings in Newton Road, Rushden, he played cricket for Rushden Town.

Just before the 1914 War, rumours went around that Walter Tull would sign for Glasgow Rangers, but the war prevented him making this move.

Walter was the first man from the 'Cobblers' to volunteer for Army service. He was quickly made a sergeant and, in 1917, was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, thereby being the first Infantry Officer who was not white.

Walter served on active service in France, took part in the second Battle of the Somme, and was killed in action.

Gordon Wait

Was Treasurer of the Northants Football Association from 1978 to 2002, after previously representing the now defunct Rushden and District league on the Association Council. He was made a Life Vice President until his death in 2015.

from Rushden who have played sport at a higher level.

Dianne Elliott

Great Britain High Jumper, Dianne Elliott was selected for two Olympics and three Commonwealth Games and World Indoor Championships.

Ken and Doug Joyce

Brothers Ken and Doug Joyce both enjoyed fame as professional wrestlers in the 1960's and 1970's, and were in many televised events. Later Ken became a Wrestling Promoter.

They were Uncles to Barry Prime who represented Great Britain at the 1968 Olympics.

Doug later started a tyre company called Orbit Tyres with his brother Ken, which is still flourishing today, and still owned by family members

Barry Prime

Born in Rushden in 1954 and attended Rushden Secondary School for Boys. Represented Great Britain at the 1972 Olympics in the 200 and 400 Individual Medley, but unfortunately failed to qualify. Since retirement he has coached high profile swimmers in different countries and clubs.

David Seabrook

David Seabrook represented Great Britain at Rifle Shooting, and later became a well respected Coach.

Roy Tomlin

A much respected club player for Rushden Town Cricket Club, Rushden & Higham Rugby Club. In his job as Head of P.E. at Rushden Boys School (later Pemberton School) he helped both boys and girls from the local Girls School to farther their sporting activities. He became Secretary at Rushden and Wellingborough Golf Clubs, and also served as an Amateur Athletics Association Judge.

Roy Cave

Played Football for Rushden Town playing in the final of the Central Alliance Cup in 1958 where Rushden won 2-0 at Corby Town‘s ground at Occupation Road. Signed for Kettering Town for two seasons. After he retired from football he took up Darts and played for Northamptonshire and many National Competitions. Later he took up bowls and played at a high level.

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