William Hagart
William Hagart
William Hagart
● William Hagart, c1896 (SJJP)

born in Scotland

William Anthony Hagart was born on Wednesday, 4th April, 1877, in Edinburgh.

The defender signed for Thistle on Tuesday, 26th June, 1900, having most recently been with Aston Villa.

Aged 23, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 15th August, 1900, in a 3-3 draw away to Celtic in the SFL First Division.

There were no goals for William during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 23rd March, 1901, in a 3-3 draw at home to Morton in the Western League, having appeared as a Jag on 18 occasions.

His club-list included Dalry Primrose, Aston Villa, Partick Thistle and Edinburgh Thistle.

William died on Sunday, 18th January, 1953, in Lewisham, London, aged 75.

Bio Extra

The son of George Hagart (letter carrier) and Mary Hagart (née Anthony). Dad was a Fifer and Mum came from the Linlithgow area. At the 1881 census, 3-year-old William shared the house with two big brothers (6-year-old Henry and 8-year-old Thomas) and one big sister (11-year-old Agnes).

William came through at Dalry Primrose, with whom he had many local successes and gained international recognition via Junior Scotland. In March 1897, he scored in a 3-1 victory over Ireland in front of 7,000 at Distillery's Grosvenor Park. It was only a matter of a few weeks later that agents on behalf of Aston Villa had him signing on professional terms. However, he never relocated to Birmingham immediately and, rather sensibly, he was allowed to stay in Edinburgh until September to finish his trade. He was playing with Villa reserves that autumn and eventually got a taste of first class action when he appeared in a 3-0 League win over Nottingham Forest on 22nd October 1898. He was at the very top of the British game at this point, for Villa were champions of England in both season 1898-99 and 1899-00. His first-team appearances were few and far between during his three seasons at Villa and an incident in late 1899 did no good for his cause.

The Birmingham Mail (8/1/1900) reported that William was in court accused with another Scottish Villa player (Bobby Templeton) and another man (Henry Mills) of assaulting two young ladies in the street. They held and punched them after one of the ladies' dogs had brushed against them. They claimed one of the women had "boxed his ears", a claim which was denied. Asked how much they had had to drink they answered "two whiskies and a tea". Asked if that was too much for a young man in training, the answer was "not for a Scotchman". Laugher in court. All three were fined £1 + costs. The case against one of the women was dismissed. (One paper reported £3 + costs each.) Poor show Hagart, we say. Our man was also known as Billy and carried the nickname, "Cock". We can only hope that he seen the error of his ways and re-adjusted his behaviour, especially in light of the fact that he married Ada Jane Mayes and had 2 children.

Having been transfer listed by Villa in May 1900, William returned North to try and kick-start his footballing career and signed with Thistle the very next month. Seduced by the allure of Villa's pedigree, Thistle thought they were gaining a first class acquisition for the defence, but 4 League wins in 20 meant bottom place and Jags were subsequently booted out of the top-flight come election time. Hagart's papers were retained for several years, but he was part of the end-of-season clearout in real terms. The bitterness felt by the executive (not just at Hagart) was reported in the close season of 1901: "Last year £380 was paid in transfer fees, so that money was not spared in securing men whom the executive thought were the best procurable; and with the biggest wages bill in the club’s history, nothing but disappointment and disgust, instead of success and satisfaction, rewarded the executive for their enterprise."

A further signal of the club's financial problems the previous season didn’t become evident until August 1901 when Hagart took a claim for £30 of unpaid wages to the SFA from the end of January. His contracted pay was 50 shillings a week for the season, whether he played or not. In fact, he played only a handful of games in the second half of the season. In January the club were unable to pay the full wages bill and all players (with exception of Hagart and another un-named player) agreed to an adjusted arrangement that half of the gate money would be split between players, and the remainder would go to the club. Despite his stance, Hagart had accepted 8 shillings a week as his share of available money for several weeks and the club had assumed that he had accepted the reduced wage and did not intend holding them to contracted agreement. The SFA’s view was that Hagart was in the right and the matter was referred back to Partick Thistle and the player. Hagart reduced his claim to £10 and the club and player settled amicably. William never played senior football again, opting instead for the low-key hobby environment of junior outfit, Edinburgh Thistle.

(WS/JK/AFK/NK)




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