The Lievesley Family – Sportsmen in Rossington

From ‘The Rossington Villager’ in June 1993 and written by Bill Winfield, who was a deputy at Rossington Colliery, living on Oxford Street.


Bill writes: This is a story about a family or more to the point, a member of this family, but because they were rather exceptional in the sport of football, it would be remiss of me not to mention each individual.

The family I refer to are the Lievesleys who came to reside in our village in the early twenties from Staveley in Derbyshire.  At that time the family consisted of mum, dad, Les, Harold and Winnie.  Jack and Horace at that time were no more than a twinkle in their dad’s eye.  Father Joe became an official at the colliery but it is the earlier years of his life that I find most interesting.

Joe played in goal for Sheffield United from 1903 until 1913 and toured South Africa with the FA representative team.  In 1913 he was transferred to Arsenal.  The Great War of 1914-18 effectively curtailed his career, as was the case with many others.  He joined the Royal Flying Corps then when the war ended, returned home to Staveley.  Later came the move to Rossington.  Joe’s prowess with a ball didn’t stop with football.  He played in the Derbyshire 2nd XI at cricket.  Just on a point of interest, whilst Joe was playing at Sheffield United, there was another member of the team who had direct affiliations to our village.   We can all remember Lennie Lang whose widow Cath and son Ian still live here.  Len’s father, who by the way was a Scottish International, also played for United.

First son Leslie worked at the colliery until he broke into the world of professional soccer when at the age of eighteen he was signed by Doncaster Rovers.  From there he was transferred to Manchester United, and then on to Crystal Palace and later to Torquay.  Again, war interrupted a promising career.  The 1939-45 conflict saw Les following his father’s footsteps by joining the RAF.  He was commissioned in the training of paratroopers at Ringway, Manchester.  After the war he resumed his career in football, first coaching in Holland and then Italy.  He was coach to Turin FC when returning from playing in Portugal in 1949 the plane crashed tragically killing all officials and players.

Second son Harold also worked at the colliery and played for the local team, the Swifts, before joining Doncaster Rovers.  One of his team mates was Jimmy Harkin who was also well known in the field of sport.  Unfortunately, following an illness, Harold died at the age of twenty one.

Third son Dennis was also on the workforce at the colliery before being spotted, which resulted in his signing for Bradford Park Avenue.  He later went over to Ireland where he played for Sligo Rovers, playing alongside the legendary Dixie Dean, who was then in the twilight of an outstanding career.  Moving back to England, Dennis joined Aldershot, who I believe also had a Rossington lad playing for them: an old pal of mine by the name of Arthur Copley.  Dennis played for five seasons before taking a coaching/administrative position.

Fifth son Jack also played in local teams taking up his father’s old position in goal but concentrated more on a career that was to culminate in the position of electrical engineer.  Jack now resides in Gloucester, where is enjoying a well-earned retirement.

Sister Winnie was the only female apart from mum.  I find it hard to believe that she too didn’t play football, probably because there were no ladies’ teams at that time.  Had there been, I am sure she would have had a shirt.  Winnie married Jack Olive who was tragically killed in an accident at the colliery in 1943.

By now I think we must all accept that they were quite an exceptional family and I have not reached the member that the article is to be about.


Fourth son, Horace, born in Rossington in 1922, attended local schools where his prowess at football soon saw him helping the school teams to win the Gundrey Shield and the Major Clark trophy.  In 1933 a scholarship took him to Maltby Grammar and he was soon selected to play for Rother Valley.  In 1936 came the honour of being selected to play for England.  The first game against Wales saw the English side win 6-2.  The next was Scotland at Villa Park with another win of 5-1.  Ireland came next and at Celtic Park, Belfast were literally slaughtered by 8 goals to 3.

It was after the game at Villa Park that Horace was offered terms by the manager of Aston Villa.  Four pounds a week was the offer, which was equivalent to the amount a collier was earning at the time.  Certainly, a very tempting offer, but Dad had realised that whilst his son had a great deal of ability at football he had not been at the back of the queue when brains were handed over, either.  He insisted that Horace complete his education – a decision that was to prove later a very wise one.  Leaving school in 1939, he took an office job with Peglers Brass Works.  Again, a war was to curtail his progress when he saw service in the army for four and a half years in India, Burma, Malaya and Java.  Returning in 1947, he went back to Peglers.  By 1953 he was a qualified accountant but still managed to find the time to play part time professional football in the Yorkshire League.

His academic qualities plus his ability to get the best from a workforce soon saw him climbing the managerial ladder.  Since returning to Peglers in 1947 till his retirement in 1984 saw Horace attain the position of Associate Director of Peglers/Hattersley Group.  He also held the position of Managing Director and Chairman of several companies within the Group.  That, one must admit, ain’t no mean performance!

In 1943 Horace married one of our local village beauties, Miss Madge Brown, whose parents, by the way were the caretakers of the infants and juniors wooden hut school.  Horace freely admits it was the best move he ever made.  Obviously, there must be a lot of truth in the old saying “Behind every successful man is a successful woman”.  Take a bow, Mrs Lievesley.

Back on the sporting scene, Horace was a very useful cricketer.  He captained Peglers for many years, getting his maiden century against, of all teams, Rossington, going on to win Division 1 batting with an average of 62.  On 1 May, 1993, Madge and Horace celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.  Fifty wonderful years!

In retirement, his interests are reading, golf, sequence dancing and gardening.  Horace was a little apprehensive about this article as he thought it may sound as though he was blowing his own trumpet regarding his achievements.  I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth.  He is one of the most modest persons you could wish to meet.  He considers himself to have been very fortunate in life.  That’s as may be as we all accept that everyone needs that little bit of luck to help us on our way but it wasn’t pure luck that saw him pull on an England shirt.  It wasn’t luck that got him to the pinnacle of positions in his working life.

The ingredients required are brains, ability, the desire to succeed and an attitude that can combine all three and still wear the same size in hats.  Along with his many other achievements, Horace had that recipe in spades.





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