Bill Fallon – Part 3

By Gavan Bergin

In January 1936 Bill Fallon was playing for Notts County FC, and all through that month he played probably the best football of his career so far. Then came February and he hit a run of form like never before. 

It started on February 8th 1936, when he scored in Notts County’s game at Reading. His goal in that game came after he crossed the ball low and hard from the left and it was somehow missed by the defence on its way into the net. Four days later, against Aldershot on February 12th, he scored again and it was a great goal: he sprinted onto the ball just outside the box and hit it first time with a perfect shot that flew in at the near post putting County 1-0 up. He scored another goal in County’s next game, against Cardiff City at Meadow Lane on February 15th 1936. His goal in that game was a beauty. It came at the end of the first half; the game was still scoreless and the home fans were getting nervous, when County won a free kick on the right wing, just past the halfway line. They took the kick and hit it long and high diagonally across from the field from right to left, and, as soon as it was taken Bill bolted on a run that was timed perfectly as ever and he arrived in the box just as the soaring, spinning ball started to dip and drop out of the sky, and it dropped  and dropped, down and down toward him,  and he waited and waited, perfectly poised and ready to strike, but suddenly it seemed that he had misjudged the flight of the cross and missed his moment to shoot. Then at the very last moment, just before the ball hit the ground and killed the chance, he got to it and struck it, straight and true and “so hard the ball was in the net before the Cardiff goalkeeper had time to attempt a save,” according to the Nottingham Journal.  Having scored that goal to give Notts County a 1-0 lead, he then played a perfectly precise pass in the leadup to the goal that put them 2-0 ahead and won the game for them. Afterwards the Nottingham Post said “Fallon was the most efficient forward and he had a foot in both goals for County.” 

On February 22nd 1936, Notts County were away to Queen’s Park Rangers, and from the first minute the home side gave them a hard, hard game. They went a goal down early and they were down two-nil by the 60th minute. Rangers were in complete control and cruising to victory until, out of nowhere, Bill stepped up to lead the County comeback. All of a sudden, his all-action wing play, his relentless running, passing and shooting came to the fore and the Rangers defence couldn’t cope. In the 75th minute County scored to make it 1-2. Now there was hope, but with time against them defeat was looming ever larger.  About ten minutes from the end after another County attack, the Rangers goalkeeper cleared the ball straight to Bill, who lobbed it back over the keeper’s head and onto the crossbar. Luckily for Rangers, the ball bounced back into play. On that occasion they escaped with their lead intact and their win all but certain, as the minutes kept ticking away toward full-time. It looked like County were going to fall short, and they were still a goal down in the 89th minute. Then in the 90th minute, Bill dashed forward into the area, the ball was crossed, he got on the end of it and smashed it into the goal. The equaliser! 2-2! Four goals in four games!

His dramatic, last-minute goal against QPR saved the game and rescued a draw for Notts County. That result left them eleventh in Division Three, with only a couple of months remaining in the 1935/36 season. By then, their promotion chances were well and truly gone, but they didn’t give up. Instead, over the next two months they played exceptionally well, racking up five wins and four draws from the last thirteen games. That run of results moved them into the league top ten and they finished in ninth place. Bill ended that season with eight goals, an uncommonly good tally for a winger, and he kept up his impressive scoring the following season. 

In 1936/37 he was terrific for Notts County. He played 41 out of 42 league games and his magnificent football helped County become a much more dangerous team in attack. On August 26th 1926, they started the season with a comprehensive 3-1 win against Exeter City at Meadow Lane. 

On September 3rd 1936, they played their second game away to Crystal Palace and they had a much harder time of it. From the kick-off, the home team dominated the game. They spent almost the entire time on the attack, driving County back and giving them no time or space to play. Time after time, Palace surged forward, causing danger and creating chances galore, but again and again they failed to take them and it began to look like they just could not score. And, as often happens in such situations, each scoring opportunity that is spurned increases the pressure on the next one that comes along, and after a while, as the attackers’ belief begins to wither away confidence starts to bloom in the defenders. And, so it happened here: as the half went on, past the thirty-minute mark and then past the forty-minute mark, with no breakthrough from Palace, County came to life and, just before halftime, they made a rapid counter-attack that brought them their first chance of the game… and they scored it! They scored the goal, then the whistle sounded and the half-time score was Notts County 1, Crystal Palace 0.

Although Palace were a goal down, they had been the superior side and they were even better after the break. From the first kick of the second half, they reasserted their dominance and this time they capitalised on it. Eight minutes into the second half, they scored the equalising goal. In the 56th minute, the score was 1-1, and County were in deep trouble. They had spent most of the game on the defensive, they had been pushed back and squeezed out and penned into their own half of the field. With all that, they had somehow managed to score a goal and take the lead, but now it looked like a draw was the best that they could hope for. They didn’t have any time to dwell on the equaliser though, because they immediately launched an attack that ended with a cross into the box that should’ve been taken by the goalkeeper but he missed it and the ball dropped into the path of Bill, who coolly kicked it into the empty net. Goal! In the 57th minute, County were in the lead again!

Still, there was more than half an hour to go, and that was plenty of time for Palace to come back and score the couple of goals they needed to win the game. They did all they could, they maintained their attacking dominance for the rest of the game. It was impossible that they could fail to do the job. But County were resolute and they held fast to the end. The final score was Crystal Palace 1, Notts County 2.

So, County had won and Bill had scored the winner. And as the season progressed, he kept on scoring crucial goals and playing stunning football.

Don’t miss Part 4, the next exciting instalment of the Bill Fallon story in the Aug-Sept issue of NewsFour.

Read more:
Bill Fallon – Part 1
Bill Fallon – Part 2