Harold Sparkes

Unknown PhotographHarold H. Sparkes (1896-1917) was born in the Peak District town of Glossop, Derbyshire in 1896 and died in northern France on 3 June 1917. An amateur centre-forward who played three games in the Football League for Glossop, Sparkes joined the British Army during the First World War and would lose his life on the Western Front aged just 21.

Football Career

Local amateur Sparkes was handed his Football League debut when Glossop travelled to Bury on 20 February 1915. On the back of two straight wins, a rare occurrence in an otherwise disastrous campaign, the Derbyshire side slumped to a 5-0 defeat at Gigg Lane and would subsequently go on to lose 10 of their remaining 12 games of the season.

Sparks would retain his place for the next two league games, a 1-0 home loss to Preston North End and another 1-0 reverse, this time at Nottingham Forest, however, they would prove to be the last of his short career in English football. Away from the game, Sparkes had undertaken an apprenticeship as a plumber before finding work as a clerk – a position he held when he joined the British Army in the summer of 1915.

First World War Service

Private 23236 Sparkes enlisted in the Royal Scots on 11 June 1915 and was posted to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Glencourse for training. Sparkes was then posted to 11th Royal Scots on 2 October 1915 and arrived in France the following day – one week after the battalion had suffered significant casualties during the Battle of Loos.

On 12 May 1916, Sparkes suffered a gunshot wound to the head near the Belgian village of Ploegsteert and was evacuated to the rear. After being admitted to 24th General Hospital at Etaples three days later, Sparkes returned to Britain on 28 May and spent more than three months at 4th Northern General Hospital in Lincoln.

Posted back to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 19 September 1916, Sparkes returned to 11th Royal Scots on 30 November but was transferred to 16th Royal Scots on 12 December and posted to “D” Company. The battalion would subsequently see action during the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe and the Battle of Arleux during the Arras Offensive in April and May 1917. Still in positions east of Arras, Sparkes was killed in action on 2 June 1917 aged just 21-years-old. His body was later lost and Sparkes is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing in Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery.




Season Club League Position FA Cup League Games League Goals FA Cup Games FA Cup Goals
1914/15 Glossop  20th (Second Division) R1 3
Glossop 3


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