Tom Pank fatal accident

from the Birmingham Mail, Friday 26 July, 1929

The death has taken place in the Norfolk and Norwich Hosptal, as a result of injuries received in a motor accident, of Mr Thomas Pank, an old Aston Villa player, and a vice-president of the club.

Mr Pank, who resided at Edgewood, West Runton, near Cromer, was driving a motor car, in which were his wife, his daughter and grand-daughter, near Norwich, last week, when he came into collision at cross roads with a motoromnibus. All four were injured, and Mr Pank, his wife and grandchild were detained in hospital. His wife is very seriously ill.

Mr Pank, who was elected a vice-president of the Aston Villa Footbal Club in 1924, was one of the players at Wellington Road. He joined the club in 1875, and was a playing member until 1882. His position was centre half-back, and he was a contemporary with Copley, H. Simmonds, E. B. Lee, Sam Law, W. Watts, W. Crossland, Archie Hunter, Arthur Brown, Howard Vaughton, and Eli Davis. Indeed, he and they formed the usual eleven in 1881. He was a fine half-back, his great speed standing him in good stead. He was frequently chosen as a member of the Birmingham Association teams in their matches with London, Lancashire and other associations.

He was a magnificent sprnter – one of the best in the Midlands in his day – and there was alwas keen rivalry between him and Mr C. S. Johnstone who is also a vice-president of the club. He won his first race at the St George’s Sports, Perry Barr, in 1976, and next season was on the scratch mark. He was credited with having done even time in the 200 yards. From 100 to 300 yards were his best distances.He frequently ran at the old Aston Lower Grounds.

Mr Pank, who was 70 years of age, was present at the annual meeting of the club last month, and at the subsequent supper given by the directors to the President, Mr P. J. Hannon MP, he responded to the toast of “The Vice Presidents.” He was formerly employed at Tangye’s, but on the death of his father many years ago went to live in East Anglia. He was an enthusiastic bowler, and it was said that he was returning from a bowling match when he met with his accident.

Tom Pank remembers…

From the Aston Villa News & Record, December 26, 1927

“When I was first on the Aston Villa committee we used to meet in a small room at the “Village Maid” in Finch Road, and of the few then present, I can think of only one beside myself left to tell the tale. It was considered a bold venture when we took the ground at Perry Barr.

“I wonder how many of the present directors would like to be employed taking round bills announcing the matches, and asking shopkeepers to exibit them. The line of type announcing the the price of admission was always the same: “Admission 3d. Ladies free” and if 30s. was taken at the gate it was reckoned good.

“On match days the first committeeman on the ground was required to fetch the corner flags and goal tapes from a w.c. in the garden of the cottage where George Ramsay lodged. The present generation may not know what “goal tapes” are; they were a red tape about one-and-a-half inch wide, which were stretched across the two posts instead of the existing crossbar. You can well understand the disputes that arose as to whether the ball went under or over this loose, twisting, blown about contraption. Then think – no back nets, no linesmen, no offside and no efficient referee.

All our players then were occupied in business and could not, as a rule, get away before one o’clock on Saturdays. I used to leave Smethwick at the time, walk to Lozells, gobble down any food I could get as I dressed in my football togs, then run down Birchfields straight onto the playing pitch.

“I wonder how many players who have handled the Birmingham Charity Cup and perhaps admired the figure on the top, are aware that when Mr Moore (the modeller) desired “the perfect figure of an athlete,” the Birmingham Association flattered me by asking me to pose, which I did on seven or eight occasions at Mr. Moore’s private house in Leonard Road; so I shall always be in Brum, unless that Cup gets pinched like another I remember.”

• Less than two years after Tom Pank’s article was published in the Villa matchday programme, he died at the age of 70 in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as a result of injuries received in a motor accident. He joined Aston Villa in 1875 and remained a playing member until 1882. In 1924 Pank was elected as a vice-president of the club.