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Champions St Luke's – or one of their rivals?

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 13, 2014

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TREVOR Sidaway has a long and enduring fascination with St Luke's FC, one of the Black Country's best-known amateur football clubs.

The Cradley Heath team, affiliated to the town's parish church, were formed in 1896 and became local legends within a few years. Among those who pulled on the Lukes colours down the years were several who went on to become national stars.

Jack Rowley of Wolverhampton graduated from St Luke's to Bournemouth FC, before being snapped up by Manchester United and going on to become one of their all-time greatest goal scorers; Joe Smith of Netherton, born less than a mile from the Lukes' ground at Dudley Wood, was a member of the Albion's Division One Championship-winning side of 1920-21; while his fellow townsman Billy Wooldridge lifted the FA Cup as Wolves captain in 1908, when they beat Newcastle at the Crystal Palace. There is even a persistent, if unsubtantiated rumour that future Wolves and England captain Billy Wright made one appearance for St Luke's as a fifteen year old and scored a hat-trick ...

The club was wound up in 1961, but it is some measure of just how well the Lukes were regarded that even today they are spoken of regularly and with great fondness in and around Cradley Heath. Indeed Trevor Sidaway wrote a short history of the club only last year, and his research is still ongoing. In fact, in recent weeks he has managed to plug something of a gap in Lukes history, while opening up another mystery at the same time ...

"The series of articles on Cradley Heath St Luke's last year included many photos of the team dating back from its founding year in 1896," Trevor writes.

"Many of these came from the Bugle's own archive and from Bugle readers, but what was missing was evidence of a medal from any of the trophies and League Championships that they won in their 65 year existence.

"This has now been put right with a Birmingham Combination gold medal, from season 1911-12.

"This season was one of the Lukes' most most successful; in addition to topping the league they had a long run in the FA Cup , beating Hereford City, Nuneaton Town, Hednesford and Darlaston, before narrowly losing to Chesterfield Town 2-1 in front of a crowd of 2,000, at their home ground at Codsall Park, in Cradley Heath.

"The medal was awarded to Charles Partridge and is now owned by his grandson — Dennis Partridge, from Kingswinford Dennis also provided the accompanying photo. His grandfather is the player on the far right on the back row, and written on the botom of the photo is: Cradley Heath FC.

"So was this the Lukes Championship team, photographed in 1911? Charles Patridge also played for Halesown Town and, on the back of the photo, is written: W Sidaway, 81 Windsor Road Halesowen.

"Amongst the Lukes' shareholders and directors there were three members of the Sidaway clan but no record of a W Sidaway, so is it a picture of the Lukes or Halesowen Town?

"Charles Partridge was born in 1890, died in 1971 and lived in Halesowen, he played left full back."

Can you shed any light on this poser? Write in if you have anything to add, give us a call, pay us a visit at Bugle House, or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk.

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