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Ernest Bintcliffe (right-back) 1904-06

Bintcliffe in Leeds City kit in 1905Born: Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, 18 September 1882

Though he never made an appearance for Leeds City in senior football, Ernest Bintcliffe did enjoy one notable distinction. He was one of just three players who played for the Citizens in the season following their formation, 1904/05, and was then retained by the club following their election to the Football League in May 1905. The two team mates who matched Bintcliffe's feat were inside-forward Gordon Howard and half-back Bert Pickard.

Every other player that signed on for City in their second season was brought in from outside the club by new secretary-manager Gilbert Gillies and his right hand man, trainer George Swift.

The 1904/05 campaign saw City cut their teeth in the West Yorkshire League, though much of the attention was devoted to the high profile friendlies they had arranged as they prepared their campaign to be admitted to the Second Division. They duly achieved this feat in May 1905, when Bintcliffe, Pickard and Howard were told they would be staying on for the following season.

There was always some confusion about the Bintcliffe family surname, though Ernest, like all his brothers and sisters, was born as Bentcliffe, the children of Tom, a coal miner, and Amelia. He was the sixth (fourth surviving) of twelve children.

All through their lives the Bintcliffes were also regularly referred to as Bentley and Bentcliffe. It is uncertain why, but it may have had something to do with his grandfather John who was sent to Australia as a convict. When Ernest married Edith in November 1905, it was under the name of Bintcliffe.

Bintcliffe was a keen footballer as was his youngest son Eric; Ernest, his brothers and Eric all played in the Thorpe Hesley Victoria football team. Eric went to play for Tottenham's youth team when he was 18, but returned home to Rotherham after two years in London.

Ernest was an avid sportsman, trying his hand at a number of disciplines, though he was particularly keen on boxing, both as a participant and a spectator.

He joined Leeds City as a full-back in 1904, travelling to Elland Road from his home in RotherhamBintcliffe in an off duty pose and remained an amateur while continuing to work as a miner at the pit at Thorpe.

Bintcliffe played a number of times for City in the 1904/05 season, appearing several times in selections that included the famous Fred Spiksley, the former Sheffield Wednesday winger and England international. Spiksley helped Wednesday win the FA Cup in 1896, when he scored both goals in the final against Wolves. The winger also assisted Wednesday when they won the Second Division title in 1900 and the League championship in 1903.

Bintcliffe was retained by City's management at the end of the season and remained on their books during 1905/06, their first season as a League club, though he never made the first team. He was a little on the short side to make the grade in senior football as a defender, and left the club around 1906, giving up the senior game.

He continued to live in Thorpe Hesley, and returned to turn out regularly for the local junior side, Victoria, with brother Charles. He worked in the pit until he was more than 70 years old, also serving as an air raid warden in the Second World War.

Described by his family as "a very quiet and kind man", he loved playing with his 5 grandchildren and on most Sundays took grandson Iain to watch men playing snooker and billiards at the local undertakers and joiners.

His wife died in January 1961 after being unwell for some time. Bintcliffe gave up his house when he was diagnosed with cancer and spent his last months with youngest son Eric. He died at Oakwood Hall Hospital in Rotherham on 28 July 1964, aged 81.

With many, many thanks to Ernest's grandson Iain Bintcliffe and wife Val.