Fred Laycock played for 12 teams in the 1920s
Fascinating letters which unearth one of the first ever football transfer scandals where a striker switched teams at half time could fetch £500 at auction next week.
They belonged to striker Fred Laycock who played for 12 teams in the 1920s.
He caused uproar at Barrow when he left the field during a match against Rotherham County to sign for local rivals Nelson before coming back on to play the rest of the game.
Laycock, who switched to Nelson on March 16, 1925 for a transfer fee of £70, was fined for illegally representing Barrow while contracted to a different club.
He had enjoyed a stellar season at Football League Third Division North side Barrow, scoring 10 goals in 31 league matches.
The striker earned a paltry £4 – £120 in today’s money – a week, so he had to top up his wages by working in a local shipyard.
Laycock’s impressive form did not go unnoticed and several clubs sent representatives to sign the player at Barrow’s match on the final day for transfers in the 1924-25 season.
By the time his playing career finished as a 40-year-old in 1937, Laycock had played for Rotherham Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Barrow, Nelson, Mansfield Town, New Brighton, Peterborough, Darlington, York, Swindon, Derby and Hereford.
He clocked up more than 150 appearances and scored 64 goals.
Freddie in the New Brighton team in 1927. He is in the middle row, fourth from the left
Star striker: Freddie (second right) with fellow team mates in jumpers at a training session
At the outset of the Second World War, Laycock enlisted with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was captured by the Germans spending time as a prisoner of war.
He returned to Sheffield following the conflict where he lived until his death aged 92 in 1989.
A letter from Barrow to Laycock reveals that he was paid £3 a week, which was bumped up to £4 a week during the season.
At the same time, he was earning £2 a week doing ‘light employment’ at a local shipyard.
A letter from the manager J.E Moralee to Laycock, dated June 20, 1924, reads: ‘My directors are prepared to offer you £3 per week, wages commencing from August 11 and if play is quite satisfactory at the end of six weeks, wages would be advanced to £4.’
Laycock’s stay at Nelson was short-lived as after just one season he was put on the transfer list with a valuation of £150 and joined Mansfield Town.
A letter from the manager J.E Moralee to Laycock, dated June 20, 1924, reads: ‘My directors are prepared to offer you £3 per week, wages commencing from August 11’
A letter from Nelson’s club officials to Laycock, dated May 12, 1926 reads: ‘We have this day removed your name from our retained list and put you on our transfer list as you have not accepted terms offered by the club.’
Included in Laycock’s items are match photos and programmes, official club correspondence, solicitors’ letters, a President’s Dinner menu and a promenade party outing itinerary to Sheffield.
The items were brought into an auction house by a collector from Sheffield and are tipped to sell for £500.
Rob Lee, sports specialist at Sheffield Auction Gallery, which is selling Laycock’s items, said: ‘The items were brought in by a local gentleman who I don’t think had any real idea of their value.
‘The items cover the whole spectrum of his football career and there are also documents relating to his time in the military and as a prisoner of war.
‘He had a bit of a chequered career especially with the transfer deadline day scandal and he does seem to have been motivated by money like today’s players.’
Freddie spent much of WW2 as a prisoner. Above is a card he filled in in the German camp
Lancashire club Nelson joined the Football League in 1921 as a founder member of Third Division North and were champions the following season.
Fresh from promotion, Nelson embarked on a tour to Spain which included a marquee match with Real Madrid.
They secured a historic 4-2 win against the Spanish giants then returned to England to beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.
Their last game in the Football League was a 4-0 defeat to Hull City on May 2, 1931.
Today, they are members of North West Counties League Division One.
The auction takes place on September 7.
Nelson football club transfer listed Freddie after just one season in the cut throat world of Division Three North