Buckstone Park was a football club based in Rawdon in the early 1890s which was the genesis of the association section of Bradford FC. Buckstone Park moved lock, stock and barrel to Park Avenue in 1895.
The club was founded at some point during the 1892-93 season by brothers Arnold, Reginald and Norman Thorne, who lived for a time in the Larkfield district of Rawdon.
To quote Terry Frost's "The Bradford City Story"
"Its officials were local business and professional men and its players, all amateurs, comprised bank clerks, colliery agents, clerical gents and former University and public-school boys with a leavening of workmen whose trades had called them from Scotland, Lancashire and the Midlands to work in Bradford and its surrounding districts. Numbered amongst its players were Colonel H.R. Armitage, David Menzies and Everitt Moore, whilst others of note were goalkeeper Harker, right-back Gray, who came from Nottingham to live in the districts, and Maurice Healey, a bank clerk who operated at wing-half with his partner Duncan Menzies."
The Thorne brothers attended Ackworth School near Pontefract. It was here they met Harold Collinson who, with elder brother Robert, went on to play for the Bradford club alongside Reginald and Norman Thorne when Buckstone Park relocated. Another Rawdon resident and Buckstone & Bradford player was goalkeeper Henry Killick, who was a Cambridge undergraduate and became a solicitor. Yet another Rawdon lad and Buckstone player was Harry Rotheray, a medical apprentice
The club came to greater prominence in October 1893 when it played its earliest reported fixture against Leeds Etceteras from Armley, winning 4-1 with goals from Reginald Thorne (2), Killick and Dewhirst.
It is unclear where the ground actually was as no location called Buckstone Park has yet been found. Buckstone Crag is a local landmark which is now part of Rawdon golf course while Buckstone Baptist chapel stood on Micklefield Lane from 1765 to 1892. Associations with Ackworth School also suggest a Baptist connection. And in his book "Late to the Game", Rob Grillo suggests that the club might have had links with Buckstone Hall which was built by the Dewhirst family in 1884. Another possibility is Rawdon cricket club.
The fortunes of Buckstone Park were covered in the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer and many if not most of their fixtures and Results were published for season 1893-94. Although this weekly paper was quite good at publishing the forthcoming Saturday's fixtures, there are a number of gaps in the subsequent results and match reports. In some cases matches might not have been played due to inclement weather or other reasons. What results we have suggest that after a slow start, results improved markedly as the season progressed.
In its second season, the club was able to arrange some more prestigious fixtures including a number against members of the new West Yorkshire League. It also entered the Leeds Workpeople’s Hospital Cup losing 3-1 at Hunslet in what was probably its only ever competitive fixture (Report). Unfortunately many of the Results from later that season are missing, contributing factors being the harsh winter and the non availability of apposite copies of the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer, the best source.
In an attempt to further improve their support and standing in the game, Buckstone Park unofficially adopted the "Bradford Association Football Club" name towards the end of the 1894/95 season and applied to join the West Yorkshire League. They were accepted. The club also had also arranged to move from Rawdon, which is some six miles north-east of Bradford, to the old rugby ground at Apperley Bridge which is a couple of miles closer.
In May 1895, the Bradford Cricket, Athletic & Football Club also decided to adopt association football on an amateur basis at its AGM, although rugby would remain the dominant code. The club had already joined the Football Association and would now apply for membership of the West Yorkshire League.
The simultaneous existence of two Bradford AFCs initially caused some confusion and indeed it was by no means certain that the league would accept a second club from the Bradford district. However this was all resolved when the two factions agreed to come together. The merger was a win-win situation for both sides. The Park Avenue club acquired a ready-made set of soccer players, coaching staff and officials while it is believed that Buckstone Park had been aiming at incorporation into Bradford CA&FC all along. Buckstone Park's goal posts, nets and everything else were transferred to Park Avenue and it was agreed that the old Buckstone Park committee, with some additions from Park Avenue, would pick the team.
Click here for Buckstone Park Results