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Remembering Our Former Players Who Lost Their Lives During WW1 This Armistice Day

11 November 2020

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we will remember them.

This Armistice Day will we stop to remember all those servicemen, women and former players who have fallen. As we reflect on November 11th 1918, when an agreement was reached to end the First World War, we will also remember our former players who lost their lives during the conflict. 

The following players are known to have been killed in action during World War 1. We will remember them. 


Harold Chadwick Meadowcroft:
Born in Workington in 1889, Harold was brought up in Bury. He joined Rochdale from Whitworth in September 1907, early in their first campaign, and played a total of 35 games at outside-right, netting three goals. Also working as a commercial traveller, just over a year later he moved to Macclesfield and in 1913 played in the Football League for both Glossop and Bury. A corporal in the Manchester Regiment, he was one of the staggering 57,000 casualties (19,000 killed) on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916.

George Gill Joy: George was born in Preston in 1882 and figured for the Dale’s predecessors Rochdale Town. He joined Dale themselves from Failsworth in October 1907, thus appearing in their first-ever campaign, and left a year later for Salford United having played 26 games at full-back or half-back, scoring once. He worked as an iron moulder and enlisted in April 1915. He was killed in action near Arras on 16th October 1917, when he was a sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery.

Patrick Galvin: Known as Paddy and born in Glossop in 1882 to Irish parents, he worked as a labourer in a paper works. After figuring for several non-league sides, Paddy joined his local Second Division club Glossop in 1906, scoring four times in 20 games at that level. He joined Rochdale in September 1908 and was a regular for two seasons, totalling 72 games and 15 goals and appearing both at half-back and centre-forward as Dale gained promotion to the First Division of the Lancashire Combination and won the Lancashire Junior Cup. (He was, also the first Dale player to be sent-off). He subsequently signed for Eccles Borough and joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, winning the Military Medal (which raised £780 when it was auctioned in 2005), and was an acting lance corporal when killed in action in the Battle of Cambrai during the final Allied push on 17th October 1918, just three weeks before the Armistice.

Norman Grey Riddell: A native of Blyth, born in 1887, Norman was with a number of junior sides in the north-east and worked for the North Eastern Railway, before joining Rochdale from Morpeth Harriers in 1910. He figured 15 times at left-back in the side which won the Lancashire Combination title and then joined Second Division Clapton Orient in May 1911. He played 11 Football League games, but then reverted to non-league football with the likes of Rossendale United. With Choppington when war was declared, like numerous other current and former Clapton players, he followed the lead of their chairman, Captain Wells-Holland, and immediately joined up in August 1914. Becoming a sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, he won the Military Medal and served virtually throughout the conflict, but was killed on 15th June 1918 at the Battle of Asiago, when part of a Commonwealth force supporting the Italians against the Austro-Hungarians on the front line in the Alps.

John Costelli: John was born in 1890 in Moston, with his family name recorded as Castelli, although during his playing career he was referred to as Costelli (and his military record gives the more common Costello). A labourer, he joined Dale from Altrincham in 1911 and played just once at full-back in their Lancashire Combination winning side, but then appeared seven times in the Second Division for Glossop between 1912 and 1914. Subsequently on Stockport County’s books, he joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry early in the war, being promoted to sergeant, and was part of the force landed at Gallipoli in 1915. Although evacuated on the hospital ship Soudan, he succumbed to his wounds on 24th June. He is commemorated on the Royal Navy memorial in Plymouth.

John Crabtree: Born in Todmorden in 1891, John was brought up just around the corner from Dale’s ground, his parents running the Albert Hotel on Spotland Road. Working as an electrician, he joined Dale during the 1912/13 season and played in eight Central League games as a full-back. He enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was killed at Ypres on 18th August 1917.

James Brannick: Born in Manchester in 1889, James was working at a dye works when he joined Everton from Atherton in 1912. An inside-forward, he played only three First Division games, but scored in two of them. Signing for St Mirren in 1914, James scored 11 times in 38 Scottish League games. He moved to Rochdale in October 1915, making 17 appearances and scoring four times, before joining the Lancashire Fusiliers as a private in 1916. He was lost in action at Ypres on 10th August 1917. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial for soldiers with no known grave.

Alexander (Sandy) Turnbull: Sandy was born in the Scottish mining village of Hurlford in 1884. An outstanding player of his generation, he twice won the league title with Manchester United – netting 25 goals during their 1907/08 success - and won the FA Cup with both United and Manchester City. Controversy had also dogged his career, though: he was one of the City players ‘auctioned off’ following the illegal payments scandal of 1906, he was an early leading member of the Players Union and in 1915, he was one of the players found guilty of fixing the game between United and Liverpool for betting purposes. Sandy guested once for Dale in the wartime Football League Lancashire Section in November 1915, immediately before joining the famous Footballers’ Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Later transferred to the East Surrey’s and promoted to lance sergeant, he was missing in action after leading his platoon at Arras on 3rd May 1917. Turnbull is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.


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