Bill Fallon – Part 2

By Gavan Bergin

In February 1934, Bill Fallon moved from Dolphin FC to Notts County. In his two seasons with Dolphin Bill had scored 26 goals, and that great scoring record got him his first notices in the newspapers of his new hometown. The Nottingham Evening Mail hailed him as “Fallon, County’s new sharpshooter”. That was some headline to live up to for a youngster who was entirely new to English football, but Bill took it all in his stride. He arrived in Nottingham on February 17th 1934 and two weeks later  he made his debut for County in their Second Division game at league leaders Grimsby Town. He played on the left wing that day, and he played well, his driving runs and piercing passes helping his new team score the two goals that secured them a creditable 2-2 draw away from home. That was an important result for County, because they had been steadily slipping down the league for months and now, they were deep in relegation trouble. After Bill’s impressive debut, he became a regular starter and with his attacking assistance County eked out the points they needed to stay up. It was a close-run thing though: they eventually finished the ’33/’34 season in eighteenth place, a mere two points clear of the drop zone. That didn’t bode well for the future of the club.

Notts County – the early days. (Courtesy The Nottingham Sport)

The future did look good for Bill, though. When the ’34/’35 season began, he was Notts County’s first choice left winger. Like he always did, he ran and ran and passed and shot, attacking with cunning, determination and skill. From day one, he did all he could do to win games for his team, but their bad form from the previous season endured.  They started the season with a defeat and they continued to lose, even when they should’ve won. On September 15th 1934, at their home ground, Meadow Lane, Notts County played Bolton Wanderers. That was a very hard game, because Bolton were the best side in the league, but County were inspired by a terrific performance by Bill.  According to the Daily Mirror,  “Fallon was particularly clever, showing his pace and aggressiveness, giving and taking passes with equal skill and forcing brilliant saves with his shooting. He tried very hard to stir the Notts forward line into effectiveness.”  At times it seemed as if he might succeed, but he wasn’t able to win the game all by himself and in the end, he was helpless and Notts County were beaten again, 0-2. 

That was how it went from then on, for him and for the team. On September 29th 1934, in Notts County’s game against their biggest rivals, Nottingham Forest, he was on top form. As the Staffordshire Sentinel said: “Fallon contributed plenty of dash and his crossing from the left wing put pressure on the Forest goalkeeper, who twice had to punch away dangerous centres.” And, just before halftime, his perfect cross set up County’s first goal. He got them into the game, he gave them hope, and they scored another two goals in the second half. Unfortunately, they had a total of five goals scored against them, disappointment smothering hope once again. Forest won 5-3 and sent County to the bottom of the league. 

The team was struggling, but that didn’t stop Bill from thriving. On October 27th 1934 he scored his first league goal of the season when he headed in a free kick against Fulham at Meadow Lane. As well as scoring that goal, and giving County a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half time, his all-round attacking was marvellous and it was noticed by the big city press. Said the London Daily Herald, “In a tremendously fast game at Meadow Lane, Notts gave their best performance yet this season and Bill Fallon was their best forward.  He made clever combinations and bright runs, his centres were deadly and his brilliant hard shots were only saved with difficulty. He all but won the game for his team.” But Fulham were good:  they equalised early in the second half and then defended their way to a 1-1 draw.

The draw was better than nothing, and that was what they had been getting out of games lately: nothing. So far they had lost eight out of eleven league games and there were many more defeats to come that season. At the end of it all, they were relegated.

When the 1935/36 season began, Notts County were in the Third Division South. But they were like a team reborn. They kicked off with a win and four draws from their opening five games, which was their longest unbeaten run in years. That start put them into the top half of the league and they kept going well after that.  Even when they did lose a game, they didn’t fall apart like they might have done in the previous season. Instead, they bounced back quickly with a positive result in their next game. 

During that impressive start, Bill’s stellar wing play was integral to some brilliant attacking by County. First, his array of searching passes and curving crosses helped the team score 20 goals in their first 14 league games. Then it was his turn. On November 16tth 1935, he scored his first league goal of the season when he headed County’s winner against Coventry City at Meadow Lane. Now he was off the mark, the goals kept coming. On November 30th 1935, he scored the second goal for County, sealing their 2-0 win at Grantham Town in the FA Cup first round. On 14th December 1935, he scored in the Cup again, striking the second goal in a 3-0 win against Torquay United that put County into the FA Cup third round for the first time since 1930/’31. By the end of 1935, at the halfway stage of the season, he had become a pivotal player in the Notts County forward line, and the newspapers were singing his praises. The Nottingham Journal called him “County’s most consistent forward”, and the Nottingham Evening Post said “Fallon is a most dangerous raider on the wing, and his scoring power makes him a constant menace to defences.”  

All that, and there was half the season to come!

For all Bill’s brilliance up till then, he was even better in the second half of the season. He started it in fine fashion, with an ace attacking display in Notts County’s first game of the new year: a 2-0 win against Clapton Orient on January 6th 1936. He kept it up in the next few games over the next few weeks, setting up many chances and many a goal for the team with his incisive and exuberant wing play. With his help, County got the good results they needed to stay in contention for promotion.  Overall, during that month of January, 1936, he played probably the best football of his career so far. Then came February, and then he hit a run of form like never before…

Bill’s story continues in the June/July issue of NewsFour.

Read more:
Bill Fallon – Part 1
Bill Fallon – Part 3