Huddersfield Town fans will once again pay their respects to those who have given their lives in the service of their country.
The game against Millwall at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday will be the annual Remembrance fixture.
In what is always a poignant and solemn occasion a special poppy banner will be placed in the centre circle from 2pm. Both captains will lay a poppy wreath on the pitch before kick-off.
Dave Horan, who is the cornet player for Terrier Brass band, will perform ‘The Last Post’ before a minute’s silence is observed.
Around the ground there will be a collection for the Royal British Legion and the Town players will wear shirts with a poppy emblem. These shirts will be auctioned later to raise money for the RBL.
The club has had many connections with former players who have lost their lives in conflict but there are two – one from the First World War and one from the Second World War – whose life stories are particularly moving.
These two players are Lance Corporal Larrett ‘Larry’ Roebuck, of the 2nd Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment, and Major Alexander Skinner Jackson, of the Army Welfare Service.
Larrett Roebuck’s story
Roebuck was the first football league player to be killed in the First World War.
Born in 1889 in Jump near Barnsley, Roebuck lived a difficult life. The family moved to Rotherham in 1901 living in Barker’s Yard, off the main High Street. He shared a cramped home with his parents, an uncle and two younger siblings.
Roebuck’s father Elias died at the age of 40 in 1902 leaving the young teenager to become the main breadwinner. Leaving school at 13 Roebuck became a trammer which is the term for a young mine worker; possibly he tended to the pit ponies, a typical role for lads aged 14 or 15.
Things would go from bad to worse in 1904 for Roebuck when he was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment by Rotherham magistrates for stealing a watch.
The records state that he had no previous convictions, and they also show that he unaccountably overstated his age as being 17. Had he given his true age (15) he would have been dealt with under a different system. Roebuck’s cousin had also been sentenced to 28 days in prison for the heinous crime of stealing ‘a growing cabbage.’
Having been released in 1904, Roebuck signed up for the York and Lancaster Regiment at just 16. He lied on his enlistment papers claiming he was 18 and had never been to prison.
He served with the 1st battalion in India between October 1906 and December 1907.
He married Frances Walker, known as Fanny, in Rotherham in 1908. He was demoted to private in 1910 for misconduct.
In 1911 records show the family lived in Farnborough in a one apartment room. By 1912 the couple had four children John, Violet, Lucy and Jesse.
Roebuck went back to work at the Silverwood Colliery where he played for the pit’s football team. The team was successful and got to the early stages of the FA Cup on a few occasions. Roebuck’s skill as a full-back brought him to the attention of Huddersfield Town.
Signing for the Terriers on March 1 1913, he was joined by Harry Linley, another Silverwood player, five months later. The two friends would make 15 appearances together.
Roebuck made his Town debut on January 3 1914 in a 3-1 win over Fulham.
The 1913/14 season ended with Town finishing 13th out of 20 teams. Roebuck made 19 appearances, 17 in the league and two in the FA Cup. Town were in the Second Division. Roebuck signed a new contract for the club taking him from £2 up to £3 in wage. The club also promised to pay Roebuck’s travel expenses from Rotherham or Sheffield.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Roebuck rejoined the York and Lancaster Regiment.
On October 18 1914 Roebuck was listed as ‘missing presumed killed.’ Despite his family writing letters to find out more information, it was eventually confirmed he was killed in action at the age of 25.
Thirty-four men from the 2nd battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment are recorded as having been killed on October 18-19 1914. Only two of those men have known graves. The 32 missing are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing.
However, the discovery of the remains of 15 men led to the identification of a number of these missing soldiers. Unfortunately, Roebuck was not among those who have been identified and he will, therefore, remain ‘missing.’
His family had received £1 a week from Town since he joined up. After his death club secretary Arthur Fairclough wrote to the family stating that due to the club’s weak financial state they would have to cease the payments.
In August 1915 a pension was awarded to Frances of 22s 6d per week (£1.12p, or £113 equivalent value in today’s money). This was to be paid until the children were aged 16.
Alex Jackson’s story
Alex Jackson was one of the brightest talents of his era, becoming a legend at Huddersfield Town. The Scotsman was a speedy, tricky winger with a devastating free-kick.
Born in Renton, Scotland, in 1905, Jackson was already playing football at the age of 17. Having played for Dumbarton in 1922, he moved to America to play in the American soccer league with his brother Wattie.
He made 28 appearances for the Bethlehem Steel before moving back to Scotland in 1924 where he signed for Aberdeen.
Jackson then moved south and signed for Town in a £5,000 deal. He helped secure the club’s third league title in as many years. He also played for the club in two FA Cup finals, 1928 and 1930. Both finals were lost to Blackburn and Arsenal respectively.
Jackson played over 150 games for the Terriers before moving to big spending Chelsea in 1930 for £8,500.
His time at Chelsea was hampered by injuries. Jackson’s career then ended prematurely during the 1932–33 season. He’d already fallen foul of the Chelsea hierarchy for activities relating to the public house he ran in Covent Garden.
He and several other star players at the club were also approached by French side Nîmes with a lucrative contract offer, which Jackson threatened to accept unless Chelsea broke their maximum £8 a week wage structure and increased his salary.
The club refused to budge and there was nothing he could do. He was forced to finish his career playing for a series of non-league clubs such as Ashton National (from Ashton-under-Lyne) and Margate. He later joined French side Nice.
Jackson is best remembered for his international career. He made 17 appearances for Scotland. He won his first cap at the age of 19 and scored the winning goal against England to clinch the 1925–26 British Home Championship.
He was one of the Wembley Wizards, the name given to the Scotland side which beat England 5–1 at Wembley in March 1928. Jackson scored a hat-trick during the match.
Having retired from the game at just 28, Jackson then was called up to the Army during the Second World War.
Jackson fought in the Eighth Army in North Africa, and after being injured in Libya joined the Pioneer Corps. In 1940 he laced up his boots once again, for a game between the Army and the Air Force.
At the end of the war he extended his stay in Africa, and was assigned to the Suez Zone. In November 1946 he was driving a truck near his base when he lost control and overturned, suffering serious head injuries. He died before he reached hospital.