Please note: this section is dedicated to South Kirkby footballers who served in the armed forces during World War I and World War II. The term 'wartime players' is not to be confused with footballers who made appearances for any football club during either conflict.
Jack, an inside forward, was the son of Martin Bradley, who also played for South Kirkby before going on to play for Sheffield Wednesday. Jack was also the nephew of Liverpool wing half James Bradley. Like his father before him Jack was soon plucked from the South Kirkby team, with Huddersfield Town coming in to take him. Moves first to Swindon Town then Chelsea followed but the outbreak of World War II cut short his Chelsea career before it began. Jack initially joined the Police War Reserve based in the Southampton area, with Southampton Football Club bringing him back into football. In 1940 he joined the Royal Air Force but continued to make guest appearances for football clubs during the war, including Grantham Town. With the cessation of the war Jack established himself in the Southampton Football League team and in his first full Football League season with the club finished as joint top scorer. In October 1948 Jack was part-exchanged for Billy Wrigglesworth plus £8,000 to Bolton Wanderers, joining the ranks of Nat Lofthouse in the First Division. Jack was a hardy player and rarely missed a game. In March 1948, not long after his big money move to the top-flight, he came down with flu but refused to miss a game, noting in the media that the last time he had missed a game was 12 years prior, whilst at Swindon Town, when he jarred his ankle.
In 1950 Jack returned south to Norwich, making a handful of appearances for the club, before being transfer listed in May 1952. In June Jack joined Great Yarmouth Town as player-manager and in the 1953/54 season he led his club to a giant killing feat, unceremoniously dumping Crystal Palace out of the F Cup. He retired from football in 1955, when he resigned as manager of Great Yarmouth Town.
Martin was born in 1909 and baptised as Hemsworth St. Helen's church in July of that year. He began his career as an inside forward with South Kirkby before signing for Grimsby Town, where he played in the Football League. However for some reason his career stalled and he returned to his local area to play for Mexborough Town, and he combined this with working at South Kirkby Colliery. In 1910 he once again was given an opportunity to play in the Football League, this time with Sheffield Wednesday, but yet again the opportunity was short lived. The 1911 census records show Martin, employed as a professional footballer, lived at 95 Stentons Yard in Mexborough. A brief stint with Bristol Rovers followed but ultimately World War I interrupted his progress.
Military records show that Martin served with the 51st Btn Training Reserve, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, where he rose to the rank of sergeant and saw postings to India and South Africa, prior to reaching the front in France in June 1916. Following the war he returned to his family at 10 Queen's Terrace, South Kirkby, where he resumed work at South Kirkby Colliery. However, he returned to the army, this time with the Army Service Corps, units finally returning home in 1918. In World War II his son and fellow South Kirkby footballer, Jack, also served.
Dennis, a winger and a native of South Elmsall, was one of a footballing dynasty that included brother Jack Grainger (Barnsley and Liverpool), cousin Jack Grainger (Rotherham United), cousin Colin Grainger (Leeds United, Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers and England) and cousin Edwin Holliday (Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and England). The footballing family all began their careers in the local area, either at South Kirkby, Frickley Colliery or another local club, before going on to enjoy playing at the highest level. Dennis started his career with South Kirkby before being spotted by both Rotherham United and Southport as well as having a trial with either Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday (which club this was isn't clear). In 1937 he chose to join Southport on trial, where his brother Jack was cemented as a first team choice, but was deemed too small and slight. In 1938, following the death of his father, the family left Yorkshire for Southport and Dennis again went on trial and joined Southport permanently, going on to make his Football League debut in the doomed 1939/40 season, versus Darlington. Ironically his older brother, Jack, was one of the players dropped for the game. Despite being inexperienced Dennis impressed massively at Southport during his short spell and attracted tentative transfer offers from a number of clubs, all of which Southport rejected out of hand.
With the outbreak of World War II the league was disbanded and results were void, Dennis signed up for service with the Royal Air Force. During the war Dennis made guest appearances for a number of clubs, including Milwall, and with the cessation of hostilities he was quick to find a new club, Leeds United, finally making his Football League debut proper. The decision to join Leeds was made by Dennis, as he wished to return to Yorkshire to assist with the business of his father in law, the transfer fee was reportedly "substantial". During the war Dennis was called up to represent the Royal Air Force and the Football Association teams, but was never capped fully by England.
Albert Milton, a left back, was born in 1885, a native of Kimberworth, Sheffield and was just one of a footballing brood of brothers. In 1907 Albert was signed from South Kirkby by local rivals Barnsley, for a then large transfer fee of £50. Despite playing only a small number of games for the South Yorkshire club Albert impressed sufficiently to be courted by a number of football clubs across the country and after just one season at Oakwell he was acquired by Sunderland. To capture his signature Sunderland were forced to part with a then maximum transfer fee of £350. The 1911 census shows that Albert was a lodger with the Harwood family at 63 Beds Street in Sunderland. Albert played for the Black Cats from 1908 to 1914 and was revered by many as one of the best full backs in the country during this time. Sadly for Albert injury prevented him from making more than a handful of appearances for the Black Backs during their title winning season of 1912/13, injury also prevented him from appearing in the loss to Aston Villa in the 1913 FA Cup final. In 1914 Albert was transferred to Swindon Town for "a very large" fee but after one season he retired from professional football and returned to the Sunderland area, with professional football being suspended due to the outbreak of war.
Upon leaving the sport Albert began working for MacColl and Pollock's Engine Works, where he continued to combine work with a love of the game, assisting local football sides as a coach, including Sunderland Rovers. After 18 months with the local works company Albert decided to take on the management of a public house, the Colliery Tavern in Monkwearmouth. This endeavour was short lived, however, as Albert soon found himself at the front with the Royal Field Artillery. In October 1917 Albert was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele, in Ypres, Belgium. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
Image from Athletic News, 16th of October 1911.