Jack Bartlett

The Managers: Jack Bartlett, 1912-1914

In the latest of John Hutchinson's new series, Leicester City's Club Historian highlights the career and achievements of Jack Bartlett.

In March 1912, Bartlett became the youngest secretary-manager in the Football League when he replaced the long-serving George Johnson at Leicester Fosse.

His record before moving to Leicester was impressive. Born in Forest Gate, he had become the Secretary of Croydon Common in 1903 at the age of 25.

Four years later, he played a leading role in turning his club professional and joining the Southern League’s Second Division.

The following year, he oversaw his team’s move to a new ground called the Nest, so called because the Croydon Common players, who played in red shirts, were nicknamed the Robins.

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Croydon Common
Croydon Common

The Robins moved to the Nest around this time.

After Bartlett had managed the Robins to the Southern League’s Second Division title in 1909, he relinquished the manager part of his role, settling for the single role as secretary, but he resumed the dual role in the summer of 1911 following the Robins’ relegation back to the Second Division.

That season Bartlett’s Robins, in a match postponed due to wretched weather conditions, lost 6-1 to Leicester Fosse in an FA Cup match at the Nest following a 2-2 draw at Filbert Street.

In March 1912, he reversed the result, beating the Fossils 3-2 in a friendly fixture at the Nest. Shortly afterwards, from a field of 102 applicants, Bartlett was appointed the secretary-manager of Leicester Fosse.

He could not have chosen a worse time to join the Fossils. The Club was heavily in debt. The directors decided that their new manager could only sign players from outside the Football League with no or low transfer fees.

Bartlett’s time at Leicester was dubbed the ‘Chameleon Years’ because the team was constantly changing due to the poor quality of the players.

The aim was to keep out of the Football League’s bottom two positions and hope for a miracle in the FA Cup. Finishing near the bottom of the League in 1913, the Club tried to generate income by embarking on their first overseas tour, which was to Sweden.

Dire finances meant that the party consisted of only 11 players and three directors. Bartlett stayed at home. The following season was disastrous. Gates dropped and the Club’s debt rose to £7,700.

The Fossils narrowly avoided having to seek re-election to the Football League. Only goal average kept them out of the bottom two places. Bartlett left the Club before the end of the season.

That summer he turned down the opportunity to coach in Germany. This was a wise decision as other British coaches in Germany, such as the famous Steve Bloomer, were interned following the outbreak of the First Word War a few weeks later.

His last job in football was to spend a year at Southern League Swansea Town, managing them to an FA Cup victory over Leicester Fosse in December 1914.

At the end of that season, the Football League was suspended for the duration of the War.

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