HE was a miner’s son from Yorkshire.
But Larrett Roebuck was also a talented footballer and was snapped up by Huddersfield Town in their fledgling years.
Sadly, his soccer career was tragically and terribly cut short – as Lance Cpl Roebuck became the first Town player to be killed on active service.
The young soldier was fatally wounded in an attack in the grim trenches of Ypres.
Now, as the nation prepares toremember those who gave their lives, his story has been revealed by historian Alan Hodgson.
Larrett Roebuck was one of the many millions who became a casualty during the First World War.
He was born at Jump in South Yorkshire on January 27, 1889. Almost inevitably he was to start his working life in the coal industry, and when the new Silverwood Colliery at nearby Thrybergh began mining in 1904, Larrett was to find employment there.
A year or so later he joined the Territorial Section of the York & Lancaster Regiment: a step that would have fatal consequences almost a decade later.
He joined the colliery football team and soon began making a name for himself as a talented full-back. The Silverwood side had a good reputation, regularly entering the FA Cup’s qualifying stages from 1910 onwards, and over the years was to produce several players who went on to make the grade in the Football League.
It is quite likely that Larrett played in some of these early FA Cup ties for the colliery and so came to the notice of Town’s scouts.
He signed for the Leeds Road club on March 1, 1913, closely followed in August by Harry Linley, another Silverwood player and friend.
During the 1913/14 season Roebuck and Linley were to play together in Town’s first team on 15 occasions as Huddersfield negotiated their way through their fourth Football League season in the Second Division.
Roebuck actually made his debut as left-back on January 3, 1914, in a 3-1 home win over Fulham, and was to play in the same position in all the club’s remaining games (including two FA Cup ties) that season. His 19th and last appearance was on April 25 in a 1-0 victory at Leicester Fosse.
Four days previously he had signed a contract with Town at an agreed rate of £2 per week, which was to rise to £3 from September 1 on the eve of the 1914/15 season. But all was to change.
War was declared on August 4 that year and the debate over whether or not to carry on with football mattered not to Roebuck, who was quickly mobilised by his Territorial regiment. Now aged 25 and married with four children, he was in uniform with the rank of Lance-Corporal.
The York & Lancaster Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, part of the British Army’s 16th Brigade, were stationed in Limerick, Ireland, but soon moved to camps in England before, on September 8, 1914, they embarked on ships from Tilbury.
The following day they disembarked at St Nazaire on the west coast of France and made their way up towards the Front Line. Roebuck and his comrades were now faced with the grim reality of war, with both armies digging in.
During miserably wet and foggy weather the British Expeditionary Force were looking to capture Menin when, on October 18, 1914, Lance-corporal Roebuck was one of 35 men listed as killed or missing in action near Beaucamps-Ligny following an attack on an enemy position.
It was the eve of the First Battle of Ypres and less than six months since he had celebrated Huddersfield Town’s win at Leicester Fosse.
Town meanwhile had been sending Larrett’s wife £1 a week ever since he had been called up.
But with the news of his demise, the club’s secretary-manager Arthur Fairclough, wrote to the family stating that due to the club’s weak financial state they would regretfully have to cease these payments. As wartime restrictions began to bite they were “losing money every week” and having to ask the League for financial assistance themselves.
The Town directors would however send her ten shillings a week out of their own pockets for the following month as a gesture of sympathy. In addition there was an amount of £2 and five shillings sent from the club to Mrs Roebuck, this being a collection made by the players, originally intended as a present for Larrett the next time he was home on leave.
Lance-Corporal Larrett Roebuck (8116) 2nd Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment, thus became one of the first professional footballers to be killed in the Great War.
His was the story of an ordinary, hard working, family man who went to fight for his country and, like so many others, tragically never returned.
LARRETT Roebuck was the first of five Town players to lose their lives in the Great War.
Lance-Cpl Sidney James of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was killed in action on April 9, 1917.
He had played in 12 League and 2 FA Cup ties for Town before the war and then in 30 games in Town's first 'wartime season' of 1915/16 when temporary regional fixtures were arranged. He played both at centre-forward and centre-half.
Private Charles Randall (right) of the Coldstream Guards lost his life on September 27, 1916.
He had played in both attack and defence 16 times for Town during their first two seasons of existence as a non-league club back in 1908/09 and 1909/10, scoring five goals. He also played in 3 FA Cup ties, scoring once.
Private Leigh Roose (left) of the Royal Fusiliers lost his life on October 7, 1916. He had played five times in goal at the end of the 1910/11 season.
Private Jack Cameron of the Cameron Highlanders lost his life in early 1916. He had played twice at centre-forward (scoring once) early in the 1911/12 season.
World War Two witnessed the sad death of Leading Aircraftsman Bob Gordon who died on September 18,1940. He had made seven appearances at right-half in the two seasons before the war, and played twice more in the first 'wartime season' of 1939/40.
Town reserve Able Seaman Tom Carter died on April 28, 1943. Although he never made the first team he was a promising half-back who turned out for the second-string until January, 1942.
THE Premier League has announced the details of a four-team under-12 tournament to be held in Ypres next month.
It is aimed at educating the game’s future players and honouring those footballers who fought in the First World War.
Called the Christmas Truce Tournament and held at the home of Belgium`s KVK leper, the weekend of December 3 and 4 will see under-12 sides from Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Lens and Racing Genk compete.