The Early Years

Skelmersdale United Football Club has a very rich pedigree with an extensive list of honours since they were founded in 1882. The Club had its genesis in a team of players brought together by the teachers of the Skelmersdale Wesleyan Day School and it was called Skelmersdale Young Rovers, the headmaster at the time being Mr Ritson. When he left he was succeeded by Mr Forster of St Helens, a real football enthusiast. Under his guidance the team became a much stronger organisation and the name was changed to Skelmersdale Wesleyans, subsequently the minister expressed his disapproval of this and the team became Skelmersdale United. The First Secretary was Mr J W Watkinson; amongst the pioneers of the team were Messrs Foster, Griffith Wynn, John Corns Hy J Latham and W Lyons. The first players included J Upton goal, A Anderton, Hy J Latham full backs, T Fenney, T Foster half backs, P Fenney, A Fenney, J Corns, J Jones, Roberts, W Lyon and W Williams forwards.

The first games were played on a ground opposite the Horseshoe Inn, Liverpool Road. It would be two years after formation that they came into prominence in the Liverpool and District League’s. Some of the leading clubs were entertained in both friendlies and Cup ties (this was before the leagues were instituted). At one time whilst playing Everton Reserves they had the assistance of Rowley of Stoke and Clare and Underwood, who were regarded the finest defence in English Football at the time.

Known as the “Colliers” as the majority of players came from the numerous pits in and around the Skelmersdale area, the village of around 5,000 inhabitants was a hotbed of football. There were local derbies against Skem Mission, Skem Rangers and Skem Recreation as well as local games with Ormskirk and Burscough, these games regularly attracting crowds of over 500. The first “Derby” with Ormskirk occurred in 1884 as Skem were the visitors to the newly opened Victoria Athletic ground on Southport Road, the game was a benefit match for the local miners, a crowd of around 600 raised the sum of £22. The first reported “local derby” against Burscough came on 22nd October 1886, United comfortably winning 8-1.