|John Briscoe by SHS |
John made his debut at a time when the effects of the First World War were really being felt in St. Helens. According to the Newspaper and Advertiser on 3rd November 1914: “The war has probably had more effect upon sport in St. Helens than in most other towns, as over 7,000 of our men between the ages of 19 and 35 are serving with the colours in various capacities”. For the game against Broughton Rangers at Knowsley Road, the Saints tried a new half-back combination, with, apparently, mixed results.
The Newspaper gave a reasoned account of young Briscoe’s debut as follows: “Briscoe, a young half-back from Sutton, was given a trial to partner McLoughlin behind the scrummage and it was hoped that as they had previously played together they would cooperate effectively”. Unfortunately, Broughton had a much heavier pack that dominated possession and it is fair to say also that the Saints didn’t have too much luck on their side on the day. Argus, in the Reporter, was a bit more hard-hitting: “Neither Briscoe or McLoughlin had the cleverness so essential for half-back play. Their play was too orthodox and the ball came away from the scrummage very slowly, so that our centres were smothered out about every occasion they got the ball”.
All told, John played three times for the seniors. Apart from his debut loss to Broughton, he played at Bramley and on 14th November came his final appearance, against Barrow at home. John scored a vital try too. Saints won 13-12 and John’s stand-off that day was Jimmy Flanagan, certainly an unusual position for him! There also appears to be no direct link to another Saints’ scrum-half of the same name, of later years, Harold Briscoe, who was killed in the Second World War. The General Labourer was living in Doulton Street, St Helens in 1939. He died in his hometown in June 1958 at the age of 63. Can you help the SHS by supplying a photograph of John, or any other personal or playing details?