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Players Index Page Last Updated
29 December 2022

Tom Roberts

Preston North End FC

2 appearances, 2 goals (one on his debut)

P 2 W 0 D 1 L 1 F 3: A 4
25% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


  William Thomas Roberts
Birth 29 November 1896 in Handsworth, Staffordshire [registered in Birmingham, Warwickshire, December 1896].

According to the 1901 census, William T. is the youngest of four children to William and Sarah. His father is a foreman jewellers stamper, and they live at 37 Wellesley Street in Birmingham.

No definitive Roberts' family can be found on the 1911 census.

Marriage to Edith Nightingale, 2.30pm, 22 March 1921 at Preston Parish Church, Church Street [registered as William T. in Preston, March 1921], by Rev. A. Horsfall.
Three children, all sons, Thomas Richard George (b.3 September 1921), Leslie William (b.22 January 1923), and Robert (b.16 May 1932).
  The wedding was postponed a fortnight due to Preston North End's participation in an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Hull City AFC (Preston won 1-0 on 10 March 1921). Roberts' best man was Archie Rawlings. The bride was accompanied by her grandfather and attired in a cream serge dress with sash, and a white satin hat, carrying a bouquet. Two bridesmaids... one of which was her twelve year old sister, Cissie, and the other, Isabella Rawlings, Archie's wife. Their son, Sidney, was the page boy.
Reception was held at the White Horse restaurant
  According to the 1921 census, William Thomas is now a professional footballer (for Preston North End FC) is now also married to Edith and they are both boarding with the Nightingale family at 147 Manchester Road in Preston.
According to the 1921 baptism of their son, Tommy and Edith were living at Friargate in Preston. By 1923, they were at 56 Lauderdale Street. By 1932 however, they were living at 230 North Road, the address of The New Inn.
"William T. Roberts, the former North End centre forward, now licensee of the Craven Heifer Hotel, North-road, Preston, was summoned to Preston to-day, in four cases, for supplying intoxicating liquor out of hours.
"John J. Axon (20, New Inn, North-road; Alfred Swift (34), Great Hanover-street; Herbert Wiggans (38), Fletcher-road; and Sadie Murphy (31), Avenham-road, were summoned for consuming.
"Mr. G. Hodgson prosecuted, and Mr. A. L. Ashton defended.
"Mr. Hodgson said that at 11.45 on Saturday night, April 7th, Detective-Sergeant Maxwell, Detective-Constable Baines and Detective-Constable Dawson commenced to keep observation in the yard at the rear of the premises. Through a chink in the curtain of the rear room they were able to see in the bar passage, and at the bar counter, Axon and Wiggans were standing.
"In front of them were glasses apparently containing beer. Roberts was walking about the passage and he came in the yard for a few minutes. At 12 5 they saw Roberts supply further drinks in half-pint glasses. Axon put his hand in his pocket and appeared to pay for them, although they could not see what he took out. They saw each of the men drinking.
"A third man who was not summoned, walked into the yard, and the officers entered the premises. The man stayed out when he saw the officers.
"In the snug, Maxwell and Baines found Sadie Murphy, Mrs. Roberts, Swift and Mrs. Swift. In front of Murphy was a glass two-thirds full of stout and two empty bottles. 'Why take that? It is paid for and I want to drink it,' she said.
"In front of Swift was a glass half-full of beer, and an empty bottle. He said he had not had a drink.
"Mrs. Roberts said that six half-pint glasses, which were on the other tables, had been there since ten o'clock. A spirit glass which was there had been used for 'runnings-off' from a brew of beer on which Roberts was engaged at the time. Swift, she said, had been sampling the beer.
"When Baines asked the two men at the bar if the glasses in front of them were theirs. Wiggans replied, 'Aye, you've got it.' Axon said he had no drink, but had come to see Roberts about some barm for the following day. Asked by Maxwell to explain the presence of the people, Roberts said, 'You know Axon, the licensee of the New Inn. He cannot pay his way and has come to see if I will lend him some money.
"'The other chap is steward of the Philharmonic Club. He comes every Saturday night with his wife. His name is Alf.' He added that Murphy was friendly with his wife. D.S. Maxwell corroborated, and in reply to Mr. Ashton he agreed there was no attempt at concealment. D.C. Baines and D.C. Dawson also gave evidence in support of Mr. Hodgson's statement.
"Opening the case for the defence, Mr. Ashton pointed out that Axon was a licensee, and both he and Roberts were tenants. It often happened after cases such as this that tenants lost their job. The case against them was entirely on the evidence of the police officers, and though he did not intend to attack the officers, they were liable to be mistaken. They had said they thought Axon had pulled a coin out of his pocket, but that no change had been given, although the price of draught in that house was 2½d.
"All the defendants were people of the greatest respectability, and had nothing against them. Roberts was very well known, and was a man of the best character.
"As was customary, he was brewing on that Saturday night, and he required barm for this. Axon had come with a message about this. The Bench were asked to believe that Axon was jeopardising his whole business life for the sake of buying beer from a house only two minutes' walk from his own, where he would be able to get it at a considerable less price.
"Wiggans, said Mr. Ashton, was a friend of Roberts. Since Roberts had finished playing for North End they had often watched the team together. Mrs. Swift, who was teetotal, had gone to make arrangements with Mrs. Roberts, a friend of hers, for a visit to Fleetwood. Swift, who was a club steward, had only just left the club where he could have had as much beer as he wanted. Mrs. Murphy was also friendly with Mrs. Roberts.
"In evidence, Roberts said he had been at the Craven Heifer just over 12 months ago, having previously held the licence of the New Inn, where Axon had taken over from him. Formerly he had been a professional footballer. On the night in question he was in the brewhouse from 10 20 to 11 55. Wiggans was helping him, and when they came out, he gave him a glass of beer. He had one himself and took a port to his wife and a glass of stout to Mrs. Murphy. Axon did not have a drink. No money had been spent in the house since 10 o'clock that night.
"Roberts denied that he had said anything about Axon coming to borrow money. Roberts added that one of the glasses on the bar counter was the one he had had himself. Swift had a sample of the 'runnings-off'. Edith Roberts, wife of the defendant, said the house was cleared about 10 20 that night, after which her husband and WIggans went into the brew-house. She did not supply any drinks in the snug.
"Mrs. Murphy denied having bought any stout and said that Roberts had brought a glass for her. Axon said he had no drinks at all, and Swift said he had had nothing except the 'runnings-off,' for which he had not paid.
"The Bench decided to dismiss the case against Roberts, the Mayor (Alderman A. M. Pimblett) saying they considered it a proper one for the police to bring. The cases against the other defendants were withdrawn." - Monday, 30 April 1934, The Lancashire Daily Post
According to the 1939 register, William T. is a publican and is now married to Edith and they live at 36 Holstein Street in Preston, along with sons, Thomas G., Leslie W., and Robert.
Death 13 October 1965, aged 68 years 318 days [registered as Thomas W. in Preston, December 1965].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] &

Playing Career

Club(s) Began his junior career in Birmingham playing with Soho Villa. Signed for Leicester Fosse FC and he guested for Southport Vulcan FC during WW1. Preston North End FC signed Roberts on 14 May 1919. Despite handing in a transfer request as early as 10 March 1920, and offers from Manchester United FC eager to secure his transfer, Roberts completed 199 league appearances and 118 goals, he signed with Burnley on 3 October 1924 for a £4600 transfer fee. On 14 February 1925, in a collision with Tottenham's Alan Hinton, he suffered a broken pelvis, missing the conclusuion of the season. He did manage 49 league outings and scored 28 goals. He  returned to Preston North End FC on 15 July 1926 for £1500 transfer fee, and he made 55 league appearances and scored another thirty goals, during which he fractured his shoulder in a car accident. He was placed on the open-to-transfer list on 20 April 1928. Tottenham Hotspur FC signed him on 17 May 1928 for a £1000 fee, he scored twice in four league appearances. Preston club, Dick, Kerr's FC signed him on loan on 30 August 1929 for two months, and shortly afterwards released by Spurs. On 22 October 1930, Chorley FC signed him.
Club honours FA Cup runners-up 1921-22
Individual honours Football League (two appearances)
Distinctions None
Height/Weight 5' 10½", 12st. 0lbs [1922]. 5' 11" [1929]


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990].

England Career

Player number One of four who became 464th players (466) to appear for England.
Position(s) Centre-forward
First match No. 138, 1 November 1923, Belgium 2 England 2, a friendly match at Bosuil Stadion, Schoten, Antwerpen, aged 26 years 337 days.
Last match No. 139, 3 March 1924, England 1 Wales 2, a British Championship match at Ewood Park, Ewood, Blackburn, aged 27 years 95 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1923-24;
Team honours None
Individual honours England Joint Topscorer 1923-24 (2);
Distinctions None

Beyond England

A Preston licensee at the New Inn, and the Craven Heifer from 1933, both on the North Road, for some thirty years. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.210/211.
The New Inn and The Craven Heifer were demolished in 1967 to make way for the Preston ring road.


Tom Roberts - Career Statistics
Squads Apps comp. apps Mins. goals ave.min comp. goals Capt. Disc.
2 2 1 180 2 90 min 1 none none
minutes are an approximation, due to the fact that many matches rarely stick to exactly ninety minutes long, allowing time for injuries and errors.


Tom Roberts - Match Record - All Matches - By Type of Match
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts % W/L
Home - British Championship 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 0 1.00 2.00 0.00 -1
Away - Friendly 1 0 1 0 2 2 =0 0 0 2.00 2.00 50.0 =0
All 2 0 1 1 3 4 -1 0 0 1.50 2.00 25.0 -1


Tom Roberts - Match Record - Tournament Matches
British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1923-24 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 0 1.00 2.00 0.00 -1
BC All 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 0 1.00 2.00 0.00 -1
All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 0 1.00 2.00 0.00 -1
All 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 0 1.00 2.00 0.00 -1


Tom Roberts - Match History
 Club: Preston North End F.C. - 2 full appearances

F.A. International Select Committee - 2 full capsx

Age 26
1 138 1 November 1923 - Belgium 2 England 2, Bosuil Stadion, Antwerpen Fr AD Start 80 cf
Age 27
2 139 3 March 1924 - England 1 Wales 2, Ewood Park, Blackburn BC HL Start 55 cf