Early February 1902 and the Hunslet Committee is not a happy bunch. Their long-serving committee man, WH Bairsto, has been cornered and has reluctantly resigned from the Hunslet committee due to the Northern Union Committee having “no course but to suspend him from taking further part in football management under the auspices of this Union.”

It wasn’t even his fault that Hunslet were in trouble with the powers that be. Really it was T Vernon Harrison’s fault. TVH had been defending Billy Hannah in front of the NU against an accusation that Hannah broke the payment/employment rules by not working full-time in the steel works. The steel works were on short time and Hannah had worked whenever he had an opportunity. His employer had provided the paperwork to show that he had bona fide employment, and his suspension had been immediately withdrawn and Hannah reinstated.

However, Hunslet had still been censored, fined and docked playing points. As a newspaper reported, there was a “strong feeling of irritation, and resentment prevails in Hunslet circles over the fine inflicted on the club and the deduction of points in due time.”  TVH had said rightly that this was “sharp practice” and Bairsto had repeated this at a Hunslet Committee meeting.

March 1902, and Hunslet apply to have the Hannah case reopened but the NU President, JH Houghton of St Helens, refuses and calls upon Bairsto “to absolutely withdraw his remarks made in his speech at Hunslet and in addition to apologise to the General Committee.” Of course he refuses to do so and the club is docked four points. 10th March and he is still on the Hunslet Committee and TV Harrison has not been censored at all. 11th March and his resignation speech is tendered. “It is rather painful for me to have to do this, especially when I think of the number of years I have been connected with you, and the harmonious feelings that have always existed between us.” Joe Lewthwaite, the Honorary Secretary, felt “very great pain,” and TV Harrison said Bairsto “had fallen in the honourable execution of his duty.”

Well, what would you do?

I know what Hunslet did.  By 7th November 1902, start of the new season, Bairsto is back on their Joint Committee. TV Harrison also made a statement in the paper at the time that the Hunslet Committee had accidentally omitted two words from Hannah’s paperwork, and that Bairsto was “one of the oldest, most respected, conscientious gentlemen ever associated with the Northern Union.” Bairsto was also lauded as “one of the best referees in the Union.”

Surprisingly, there is no mention of the fracas in the Joint Committee Minutes!

Billy Hannah Heritage Number 198. Debut v Batley 1894 season. Played twelve seasons, 221 games, scoring 334 points, before becoming the Hunslet trainer. Also played for Cumberland.

Billy Hannah centre backrow

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