Fiske William “Tommy” Image 1 Blackpool 1912

Fiske William “Tommy” Image 1 Blackpool 1912


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Beccles, Suffolk born goalkeeper William “Tommy” Fiske had joined the Army as a teenager, and whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in Bloemfontein, Orange River Colony, South Africa, he kept goal for the Army team versus The Corinthians. On his return, he played junior football in Suffolk for Bungay in 1905 before joining Southern League Norwich City in 1906, who bought him out of his Army contract. His one game for Norwich was a win against Hastings and St Leonards, in a 4-1 victory. He was soon spotted and signed by Second Division Blackpool and joined them in 1907, making his Football League debut in a 2-1 defeat at Lancashire rivals Burnley on Christmas Day 1907, after taking over the gloves from Stephen Tillotson. He went on to appear in the remaining 21 League games of the season, as well as Blackpool’s FA Cup exit game at Manchester United on 11th January 1908.

The following season, 1908-09, Fiske appeared in all but one of Blackpool’s League games, missing only the penultimate game at Gainsborough Trinity. when Tillotson deputised. Fiske was ever-present in 1909-10, starting each of Blackpool’s 38 League and two FA Cup fixtures. He kept eleven clean sheets in the process. He looked set to repeat the feat in 1910-11; however, after 33 League games he was omitted from the team, with Jimmy Kidd taking his place for the five remaining games. Fiske returned to the team for the start of the 1911–12 campaign, and went on to make 32 appearances in the League.

In 1912-13, his 22 League appearances came in three spells. He played in the first seven games before being dropped in favour of Kidd, who took over for the next eight games. Fiske then returned to the side for six games, only to lose his place to Kidd for eight games. Finally, he regained his place in the team for the remaining nine games. 1913-14 was Fiske’s final season with Blackpool. He appeared in 34 of the club’s 38 league games, his final one being a 4-1 defeat at Bradford City in the final game of the season, in front of a crowd of 25,500. He then left Bloomfield Road after 221 appearances and joined Nottingham Forest in the close season of 1914, just before the declaration of war which started the First World War. He joined up for Army service on August 21st 1914 before Forest’s season had even kicked off. He served with the First Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in France until November 9th that year. He returned home and played five games for Forest before returning to the War. He played in the League against Derby County, home and away. He conceded fourteen goals in those five games including four from Norwich which knocked Forest out of the FA Cup. His entire Forest career was just an interruption to his service in the trenches. At the season’s end the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football, and like so many Fiske, who survived in the armed forces far longer than most, having already been wounded twice, was tragically killed in action on the Marne near the village of Fismes on May 27th 1918 in the German Spring Offensive. His body was never recovered and his name is carved on the Soissons Memorial and remembered there today.

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