Motorcycle Football

Tommy became a sporting celebrity in another sport, involving a team of six machines and riders. This was motor cycle football which began in the 1920s and had a large following for several years.

Tommy on his New Imperial at a football match. Courtesy of June Hussey.
In the late 1920s Tommy founded the Wolverhampton Motor Cycle Football Club who played on their home ground in Pinfold Lane, Penn and at other grounds throughout the area.

The sport captured the public’s imagination and its popularity resulted in the formation of many teams throughout the country, and the setting up of the A.C.U. league.

The Wolverhampton team, with Tommy as captain were a force to be reckoned with, they had many successes including defeating the previously undefeated Coventry and Warwickshire M.C.F.C. in April 1928.

Later in the year they went on to win the Midland League Championship by beating Birmingham.

The Wolves motorcycle football team. Courtesy of June Hussey.

1928 was an extremely successful year in other events. A nation-wide competition similar to the F.A. cup was set up and the Wolverhampton team soon made their mark.

In the first round they beat West Bromwich 10-1, and in the second round eliminated Douglas M.C. They went on to beat Coventry ACE after a second replay and beat Middlesborough 4-2 in the semi-final.

They played against Coventry in the final at Kings Heath, but lost when Coventry scored the winning goal, a few minutes from time.

Courtesy of June Hussey.

Tommy, 2nd from left, keeping an eye on the action.

Courtesy of June Hussey.

Members of the Wolverhampton team. Tommy is on the extreme left.

Courtesy of June Hussey.

Some of the atmosphere of a motor cycle football match can be captured from contemporary newspaper reports. The following extract from a report in an unknown newspaper describes Wolverhampton’s victory against Worcester M.C.F.C. (date unknown) at the Chillington Sports Ground:

Worcester played a plucky, dashing game but individually and collectively they were easily outclassed by Tommy Deadman and company, whose teamwork was admirable.

Early in the first half one of the Wolverhampton machines went out with a broken frame, while Frank Speake and Eric Male spent long minutes at the pit righting sundry mechanical problems.

Worcester eventually lost one player, but for some 15 minutes before the interval Deadman and T. Overton not only held four Worcester forwards at bay, but frequently drove them back into their own goal area. Speake opened the score for Wolverhampton, and the visitors equalised before the interval.....

A miscalculation by a pair of Worcester players in their own goal area sent them down with their machines locked together, and Speake, skating his battered club mount neatly round the obstruction, tipped the ball across to the ever-ready Tommy who slammed it home on the run.....

Male, Speake, and Overton all paid occasional visits to the pit, and it was rare after this, that Deadman had all three with him, though his own mount gave no trouble. Never the less, the balance of the play was easily with the home team, and Tommy increased the score once again before the final whistle.

Wolves v. Middlesbrough at Pinfold Lane, Thursday 26th July, 1928 in the semi-final of the A.C.U. Cup. Wolves won by 4 goals to 2.

Courtesy of June Hussey.

Wolves v. Birmingham at Fordhouses.

Courtesy of June Hussey.

Wolves v. Coventry at King's Heath. Left to right:
E. Male and R. F. Speake (Wolves), Brandish (Coventry), Tommy Deadman (Wolves), and T. W. Overton (Wolves' goalkeeper).

Courtesy of June Hussey.

A newspaper cutting, date unknown. Courtesy of June Hussey.

A newspaper cutting, date unknown. Courtesy of June Hussey.

Motorcycle football remained popular for several years and then disappeared into obscurity.

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