|James Phillips by Alex Service |
The very nature of James Phillips signing for the club is interesting and shows the value of a good administrator. The Saints went up to Millom on Boxing Day 1907, but there were problems ahead, as the St. Helens Newspaper revealed: “Bate and Mercer missed their connection at Carnforth. This left the Saints with only eleven men and put Secretary Mercer in queer street. But this wide awake official was not to be beaten and on arrival at Barrow he quickly sought out Winter, who is on the Saints’ register and resides up in those parts and persuaded him to fill the vacancy in the threequarter line. Then a full-back from Millom by the name of Phillips was brought along and Mr. Mercer accomplished a very smart bit of work. Hearing that this player’s capabilities were out of the ordinary, he interviewed him in a most persuasive way, signed him on, telephoned for a permit to Mr. Platt the Northern Union Secretary, and completed the good work in such a satisfactory manner that Phillips was able to turn out as full-back against Barrow. This is certainly a feat in secretarial work which will take some beating. And the new man proved a veritable champion, for he gave a sterling display all round. Fielding, kicking and tackling all came alike to the sturdy Millom lad, and there is little doubt the Saints have discovered a diamond in the rough.”
Phillips, a ship plate riveter by trade, played only one more match for the Saints, at home to Hunslet, on New Year’s Day, when the Saints were hammered 24-8 by the Yorkshire outfit. Our new full-back, so rich in promise did not transpire in the long term, for whatever reason. Outside rugby it would appear that James followed his trade to where employment flourished. In 1939 he was living in Scottswood Road, Newcastle upon Tyne. He died in Carlisle in 1960 at the age of 71. If anyone can help us piece together the further rugby career of this player, we would like to hear from you.