William Tremelling

William Tremelling : Preston North End

William Tremelling was born in Newhill in May, 1904. He played for local football teams, Kirkby Colliery and Welbeck Colliery before joining Retford Town. A centre-forward, he signed by Frank Buckley for Blackpool in 1924.

He made his Football League debut against Manchester United in March 1925. Unfortunately, he broke his leg the following season and did not return to the team until the 1926-27 season. Tremelling ended up as the club's leading scorer with 30 goals in 26 games.

The following season, Blackpool manager, Sydney Beaumont, signed Jimmy Hampson from Nelson. Hampson played at centre-forward and Tremelling was switched his top scorer to centre-half. It was an inspired move as Hampson scored 45 goals and Blackpool went on to win the Second Division Championship.

Alex Gibson, the manager of Preston North End, bought Tremelling in 1930. At first he played at centre-forward and scored two goals on his debut. However, later in the season he was moved to centre-half.

Preston North End only finished in 7th place in the 1930-31 season and Alex Gibson lost his job and was replaced by Lincoln Hyde. In his first year in the job Preston finished in 13th place and at the end of the 1931-32 season he was sacked.

In 1932 Preston signed the 39 year old Robert Kelly. The England international had helped achieve success for previous clubs Burnley, Sunderland and Huddersfield Town. The following year Preston signed a 20 year old wing-half, Bill Shankly from Carlisle United. In the 1933-34 season Tremelling, Kelly and Shankly helped the club win promotion to the First Division.

Robert Kelly, now aged 41, was considered too old for First Division football and was allowed to become player manager at Carlisle United.Preston signed another veteran, Ted Critchley, to replace Kelly. Other players brought in that year included Jimmy Maxwell (Kilmarnock) and Jimmy Dougal (Falkirk). Tremelling became captain and in the 1934-35 season Preston finished 11th in the league. Maxwell, who played at centre-forward, was the club's leading scorer with 26 league and cup goals.

In the 1935-36 season, Preston finished 7th in the league. Jimmy Maxwell was again top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions. New signing, Hugh O'Donnell, added 15 more. Preston had a disappointing league campaign in 1936-37 only finishing in 14th place. Francis O'Donnell was top scorer with 27 goals. Eleven of these came in cup competitions. For example, he scored in every round of the FA Cup, including a hat trick in the 4th round against Exeter City and a double against West Bromwich Albion in the semi-final. O'Donnell also scored in the first-half of the cup final against Sunderland. However, with Raich Carter in top form, Sunderland responded by scoring three in reply.

The following season Tremelling found it difficult to hold his place in the Preston first-team. Eventually he was replaced by the Scottish international, Tom Smith.

Trembelling retired from playing football in 1937. During his time at Preston North End he had scored 11 goals in 209 games. Over the next few years developed a reputation for being an outstanding coach at Blackpool.

William Tremelling died in 1961.

Primary Sources

(1) Stan Mortensen, Football is My Game (1949)

As young professionals our time-table followed much the same lines as that of the senior players on the staff, but of course we did not train so intensively. Our programme went something like this:

Monday: Very little done unless attention needed for an injury. Or unless one was on the carpet in the office.

Tuesday: Ball practice.

Wednesday: Practice match.

Thursday : Fairly hard training-lapping, sprinting, tuition in correct running.

Friday : Half a dozen spurts and a good rub down.

It will be seen that Tuesday and Wednesday were the important days. We were under the watchful eye of Bill Tremelling, the former Blackpool centre-forward and centre-half, who towards the end of his playing career captained Preston North End and led them to the Cup Final at Wembley, where they were beaten by Sunderland.

Words cannot tell what a debt I owe to Bill Tremelling. He was the ideal man for the job. He knew football inside out, and had unlimited patience, yet at the same time he could be pretty downright in his criticisms. He did not hesitate to give us the verbal lash when he thought it would do good.

I vividly recall to this day one such occasion when I was the target for his criticism. On Wednesdays we usually played a practice match, which might be eight or nine aside, or we might even make up two full elevens. Bill would referee, and he would stop the game from time to time to impress on us any point which occurred to him.

In one of these games I received the ball deep in my own half, and set off at top pace with it. I beat four men. In fact, you might say without much exaggeration that I ran the length of the field. In due course I found myself in front of goal, let fly with my shot, and only just missed scoring the sort of goal-on my own-which would have tickled me. I turned to trot back to the middle of the field feeling well pleased with myself, even if a trifle out of breath, when Bill Tremelling started to tell me quite a thing or two.

"Let the ball do the work," was his great motto (as indeed it must be of every good player); and how he rammed this home to me now, in front of all the other players! He pointed out, with some crispness, that I should have parted with the ball after beating one man, that I could have run into position after releasing it, and that I could still have had my shot at goal if the move had gone nicely. What is more, so he said, I should have had more breath in my body, and more strength in my legs, for making the final shot!

On Tuesdays Bill would take us individually and in groups to teach us how to play football. Yes, this was the school for footballers, and I soon realised I was being put through a very thorough apprenticeship. Correct kicking with the instep, taking corners, working out a little plan to make the most of a throw-in, trapping the ball, shooting, and so on-everything was gone through so that we should be ready, when the time came, to take our places in a higher class of football.

When the average fan sees a League match, he probably imagines that the men play from instinct, so swift in the action, so instant are some of the decisions. Behind that rapid and complex series of movements is much training, and in some cases weary hours of coaching and practice.

On Fridays there was a solemn rite to be carried out before we put on our clothes and went off, fighting fit, for the match on the following day. After a few spurts to loosen our limbs, we had a shower and rub down, and then we had to take a bottle of olive oil and rub ourselves down. This was designed to give our legs strength yet suppleness.