Here are the key dates…
- 17 May 1901 Thomas Briercliffe signed from Stalybridge Rovers
- 2 September 1901: First appearance for Thomas Briercliffe in a home win against Burnley
- 15 April 1905: Last game for Thomas Briercliffe
Tommy Briercliffe was born in Chorley, Lancashire in 1874, and played for St Luke’s Whealton, Clitheroe, Blackburn Rovers, Stalybridge Rovers and was then signed joined by Woolwich Arsenal in May 1901. There is also a report that he played early on for Bacup.
Briercliffe came into the team at number 7 (outside right) for the first match of the season against Burnley which Arsenal won 2-1, and scored his first goal in the second match of the season on 7 September 1901, a 2-0 defeat of Leicester Fosse. It was the first time ever that Arsenal had won their first two matches of the season!
It is said in some sources that he also played at centre forward, but I can’t see this in the records – they show him playing a “7” in each game.
Incidentally the opening match of the season is one of the very few examples of an error in Fred Ollier’s Arsenal: a complete record. He has the 2 September match as a home match, but it was actually an away game.
Arsenal finished the season fourth in the second division, their best ever performance, and the season included the club’s first ever run of five wins in a row starting on 22 February 1902.
He added another eight goals in 33 matches the following season as Arsenal came third, again recording a run of five victories in a row.
In 1903/4 Arsenal finally got their promotion, coming second with Briercliffe once more a vital part of the team, but in their first season in the top division (1904/5) Arsenal found the going harder, finishing mid-table.
Once again Briercliffe was first choice as outside right when fit but after a home defeat to Notts C on 15 April 1905 his transfer was arranged to Plymouth Argyle who at the time were in the Southern League.
Here’s the Arsenal record…
|Season||League games||League Goals|
He played his first game for Plymouth on 2 September 1905 and his last on 27 April 1907. After those two seasons at Plymouth he moved on to Brentford and Darwen.