In 1890 the rewards available to English clubs, via professionalism and the recently launched Football League, meant that the top clubs were always on the lookout for players. Scotland was a prime market for the clubs to plunder, with no shortage of keen players looking for a chance to leave manual jobs for the chance of playing football for a living.
Partick Thistle hadn’t been too badly affected by the exodus of players. John Stewart and John Munro left in 1888 while John Drummond would leave in the summer of 1890 but other players were badly affected.
The Scottish Referee were moved to comment on the problem as the season came to an end in April 1890:
We have heard the report that members of committee on leading clubs in Glasgow and elsewhere are not above doing a little work as “agents” for English clubs. It is said that one of the recent recruits to the Blackburn Revers was informed by a prominent official of that club that the negotiations for his “transfer” to Blackburn were conducted through a member of committee on one of the leading city teams. If this can be proved the gentleman referred to should be given the cold shoulder by his colleagues.
“Where good football is, there will the agents be also.” Now that the active poaching season is on — for poaching has its spasms of activity and inactivity — the dealer in football flesh is busily pursuing his detestable calling in Glasgow and district. A certain gentlemen who cut such a ridiculous figure at Ibrox last August when in search of John Hendry, the Rangers’ popular left back, returns to the attack, this time from a distance. Last time this gentleman was agent for Notts County, now he writes on behalf of West Bromwich Albion,offering Hendry his own terms to sign for that club. McFarlane of the Rangers, has also been approached by the Halliwell Club with the offer of a situation and 35s a week for playing football. A former member of the Queen of the south Wanderers was in Glasgow and the West of Scotland district all last week in search of players, but happily without gaining a single recruit. Other agents are busy in our midst, some of the offers made being too good to he true. Neither Hendry nor McFarlane will desert the “Light Blues.”
The reference to the incident at Ibrox the previous year (1889) referred to an incident at a Rangers v Celtic match where the agent in question was recognised as the man trying to poach Hendry for Notts County, and allegedly received a beating from the crowd.
Hendry remained at Ibrox for the rest of that season, guesting for Partick Thistle against Everton (and Northern in a Maryhill Charity Cup match) and for Celtic. Everton offered him a contract (one of two deals; £75 signing on fee and the equivalent of £1.50 a week or £20 signing on fee and £3 a week) and arrangements were made for him to travel down to sign it. However, he didn’t accept the contract and announced he only wanted to play for Rangers, before signing for Notts County instead for £100 and £2 per week.
Hendry played over 150 games for Notts County, playing in two FA Cup finals (1891 unsuccessfully, and 1894 as a winner).
This John Hendry was previously been confused with John Hendry who played with Partick Thistle from 1879 to 1889, and the Rangers’ player’s guest appearances have previously been credited to the other player. Both players were full backs which added to the potential for confusion.
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