Stalybridge Celtic Foundation

Stalybridge primary school children enjoying their time at Bower Fold

Harry Dennison Memorial Rose Bowl

Stalybridge Celtic Foundation

Harry Dennison

In memory of one of our greatest ever goal scorers, Stalybridge Celtic FC Community Development, are proud to host an annual 6-a-side Football Tournament, ‘The Harry Dennison Memorial Rose Bowl’, for Primary Schools in Stalybridge.

The aim of the tournament is to give local Primary School children the opportunity to play on the Bower Fold pitch and be inspired to play football the way Harry Dennison did all those years ago in the blue and white of Stalybridge Celtic FC.

Harry Dennison 53 (4th November 1894 – 16th December 1947)
Equally at home playing inside left or centre forward, Bradford born Harry started his career at Blackburn Trinity, a club he returned to and guested for during WW1. He was signed by Blackburn Rovers FC in 1910 and he had the distinction of becoming the youngest player to appear for Rovers aged 16 yrs and 155 days when he played against Bristol City FC in a Football League Division 1 (equivalent to today’s Premiership) fixture on Saturday 8th April 1911. However he made only three League appearances during his time at Ewood Park and in 1920 was signed by Rochdale FC, members of the Central League. The following season Rochdale FC became founder members of the Football League Division 3 (North). Dennison was a prolific goal scorer during that 1921/22 season netting 17 goals in 33 league matches and finishing the season as the Spotland club’s leading scorer.

The following season, 1922/23, he arrived at Springfield Park where he made 30 Football League Division 3 (North) appearances for Wigan Borough hitting the net 13 times, to again finish the club’s top league goal scorer. In fact during his Football League debut for Wigan on 26th August 1922 he rattled in four goals in a 6-1 defeat of Ashington FC at home.

On Saturday 3rd March 1923 Wigan Borough beat Lincoln City FC 9-1 at home, in front of 8,000 spectators, this was Borough’s biggest ever Football League victory. The Lincoln City FC goalkeeper, Jack Kendall, was stretchered off the field unconscious after a fierce shot from Harry Dennison rebounded off the upright and struck Kendall on the back of the head, the ball fell to Dennison’s colleague Billy Glover who scored Wigan’s opening goal. There were of course no substitutes in those days and the game was a rout. Harry left Springfield Park at the end of the 1922/23 season after also scoring another three goals in six cup tie appearances before signing for Stalybridge Celtic FC. A teacher by profession he studied at a London college where he won the 100 yards sprint and the 1/4 mile championships.

Celtic started the 1923/24 season as members of the Cheshire League, replacing their own reserve team, after having resigned from the Football League Division 3 (North) at the end of the previous season.

Dennison made his Celtic debut on 25th August 1923 versus Nantwich FC away and ended the season scoring 55 goals in 43 appearances for the Bower Fold club as Celtic finished fourth in the league.

There was a feeling among Celtic supporters that some recognition should be shown for the remarkable feat accomplished by centre forward Harry Dennison in becoming the first Celtic player to score over 50 goals in a season.

With this in mind a small committee from the Supporters Club was formed. Mr. J.F Wood as Chairman, Councillor G.L Flint, J.P, Treasurer, and Councillor G. Potts and Mr. F.G Webb joint Secretaries organised a collection during the Celtic versus Crewe match at Bower Fold on Saturday 26th April 1924 so as to make Dennison a suitable presentation. It was decided by the committee that subscriptions would not exceed one shilling, less would be acceptable, and it was hoped that as many of the centre forward’s admirers as possible would contribute. The collection realised £17 and both Mr and Mrs Dennison expressed a wish that the present should take the form of a rose bowl. The present consisted of a silver rose bowl. On it is a silver plate bearing the inscription ‘Presented to Harry Dennison by Stalybridge Celtic supporters in recognition of his splendid performance in scoring 55 goals – 51 Cheshire League, four in cup ties – season 1923-24’.

At the end of the season Dennison was transferred to Football League club Stockport County FC, but his stay at Edgeley Park was brief due to injury and after making only 11 appearances, scoring three goals, during the 1924/25 season he returned to Bower Fold at the beginning of March 1925 and scored 19 goals in 13 appearances for the Celts.

Amazingly, on the last day of the season, 2nd May 1925, Celtic played two matches on the same day. They drew away against Whitchurch 2-2 in the afternoon, Dennison scoring the equaliser. Then on the way home beat Sandbach in the evening 2-1, Dennison scoring the winner. The Sandbach game had been abandoned in early January after 76 minutes due to darkness and could not be played until the end of the season.

During his time at Celtic, 1923-28, Dennison scored 20 hat tricks and scored four goals on 12 occasions, including four in three consecutive matches over the Xmas period in 1926, Mossley FC away on Xmas Day, Macclesfield Town FC at home on Boxing Day and away on New Year’s Day, five on three occasions and once scored eight goals in a match, 27th April 1926 versus Manchester North End at home in a 16-2 win giving him the distinction of holding the club’s individual goal scoring record for one game. In addition he scored a brace of goals on 38 occasions.

The 1926/27 season was Dennison’s most prolific when he scored 76 goals in 49 appearances for the club, a Cheshire League goal scoring record at the time.

This is where we can right an 86 year old wrong! Cecil Smith of Celtic has always been credited with holding the record for the most goals scored in a season, 77 in 1931/32 season, but my research shows two of Smith’s goals were scored in a New Years Day friendly versus Northern Nomads at Bower Fold which shouldn’t have counted, giving Dennison the record with his 1926/27 – 76 goal haul.

Ironically it was claimed that Dennison was in attendance at the game Smith broke the record. He should have said something!!!
1923/24 55 goals – 43 appearances
1924/25 19 goals – 13 appearances
1925/26 66 goals – 45 appearances
1926/27 76 goals – 49 appearances
1927/28 44 goals – 48 appearances
Total 260 goals in 198 appearances.

He left at the end of the 1927/28 season to join rivals Hurst. In season 1928/29 he made six appearances scoring four goals before leaving Hurst in November for Macclesfield Town FC.

He played out the season as a regular for Macclesfield Town then joined Barnoldswick FC and Lytham (there is no evidence to support the theory he returned for a third spell with Stalybridge Celtic FC, although he did volunteer his services to help the club out during an injury crisis during the 1932 /33 season but never turned out.

Article written by David Pover (Physio), Stalybridge Celtic FC