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Ilkeston Mechanics, the town's first football club, was founded in September 1882 by two prominent members of the local mechanics institute. William Shakspeare later became proprietor of the Ilkeston Advertiser and became Mayor of Ilkeston in 1908. Arthur Higgitt went on to become Director of the Ilkeston Permanent Building Society and Headmaster of Gladstone Street School. Local players, many of whom were in their late teens or early twenties, represented the club throughout its short history.
The Mechanics' first season consisted purely of challenge matches against clubs from the surrounding area. Their first match, away at Langley Mill Temperance on October 28th, ended in a 5-1 win for "The Blacks" as the Mechanics were known. Three further matches, each of which were lost, took place before the first home game was played on December 9th. This was also against Langley Mill Temperance but this time the match was lost 1-0. The match was played on Shaw's Field. (It is quite possible that the pitch was alongside where Cantellupe Road runs today, there being reports of teams kicking towards the 'cemetary end' and 'kicking uphill'). However, the preferred venue became Barkers Bridge, off Awsworth Road, almost in the exact location of the New Manor Ground, today's home of Ilkeston football. The Mechanics played their first match here on the final day of their first season. They also tried the Pimlico Recreation Ground (now the Rutland Recreation Ground) during the following season before returning to Barkers Bridge.
It was not until February 1883 that the Mechanics were able to record their second win. This was away at Sandiacre and this signalled an improvement in results before the season's end. 1883 also saw the formation of the Derbyshire FA and Ilkeston Mechanics were one of the founder members. This meant that they qualified for the inaugural Derbyshire Senior Cup competition in 1883/84 but their first tie, away at Long Eaton Rangers, ended in a 6-0 defeat. The team made little progress during its second season and this was due in part to the large number of rival clubs being formed in the town. Each team seemed to have two or three good players plus a number of less gifted individuals who made up the rest. The new clubs included Ilkeston Rangers, Ilkeston Swifts, Cotmanhay Wanderers, Ilkeston Ramblers, Ilkeston Rovers, Ilkeston Rutland Foresters and Ilkeston Commercial. The first signs that the Mechanics' status as the town's senior club was under threat was in February 1884 when they were beaten 2-0 by Ilkeston Church Institute and it was not long before they were no longer top dogs.
Ilkeston Mechanics' final season of note was in 1884/85 when they entered the Derbyshire Senior Cup for the final time. Their last recorded game took place in February 1886 but other clubs had long since overtaken them. The mechanics institute itself closed in 1887 amid financial difficulties.  

MECHANICS FACTS:
Founded: 1882
Disbanded: 1886
Nickname: The Blacks
Grounds: Shaw's Field, Barkers Bridge, Pimlico Recreation Ground
Record win: 5-1 v Langley Mill Temperance (A) 1882/83
Record home win: 4-0 v Sandiacre Amateurs 1882/83
Record defeat: 1-10 v Forest Colts (H) 1884/85
Record away defeat: 2-8 v Chesterfield Spital 1883/84
Most appearances (probable): Arthur Goddard 
Most goals (probable): Fred Paling
Derbyshire Senior Cup best: 1st Round 1883/84, 1884/85

All players known to have played for Ilkeston Mechanics are listed below (players often appeared in different positions but their usual roles are indicated):
W. Bailey
(defender) - played occasionally during the first two seasons at right-back and centre-half
Charlie Barker (half-back) - born Ilkeston 1864. right-half who appeared towards the end of the 1884/85 season and went on to play for Ilkeston Town, Ilkeston St Marys and Cotmanhay Wanderers
Harry Benson (centre-forward) - broke into the team and held down a regular place in the latter half of the 1884/85 season. later played for Ilkeston St Marys
A. Butt (inside-right) - good passer who appeared regularly during the 1883/84 season
J. Calladine (left-half) - made several appearances midway through the 1884/85 season. later appeared for the first Town club
J. H. Calvert (full-back) - could operate on either flank and was a regular member of the 1884/85 side
J. Cox (right-back) - didn't play in their first ever match but made a few appearances early in the 1882/83 campaign
J. Coxon (right-half) - made several appearances midway through the 1884/85 season
A. E. Evans (outside-left) - appeared frequently during the winter of the 1884/85 campaign
Stanley Felkin (defender) - born Nottinghamshire 1866. versatile tough tackler with a strong kick and highly rated. first appeared at the start of the 1883/84 season and was a regular member of the team until 1885. later played for the first Town club 
Tom Fletcher (goalkeeper) - born Ilkeston 1862. appeared several times midway through the 1884/85 season
Joe Fox (centre-back) - born Ilkeston 1865. made a couple of appearances late in the 1884/85 season. went on to play for the first Town club
W. Gaunt (right-back) - powerful kicker, and a good tackler who later played for the first Town club and then Ilkeston Wanderers where he became vice president. first appeared early in 1883 and was a mainstay of the team until the end of the 1883/84 season
Arthur Goddard (inside left) - born Nottingham 1860. a good passer who later joined the first Town club and Ilkeston Wanderers. first appeared in the Mechanics' second ever match and is probably their all-time appearance maker, rarely missing a match in three seasons
A. Gregory (forward) - first appeared in late 1884 and demonstrated an eye for goal
William Hall (goalkeeper) - unbeatable on his day with very safe handling. first appeared late in the 1882/83 season as an outside-left before moving into his natural position, becoming first choice 'keeper in 1883/84
William Haynes (defender) - born Ilkeston 1865. only known to have played in one match, near the end of the 1882/83 season
Hollingworth (goalkeeper) - made a handful of appearances midway through the 1884/85 season
B. Howard (outside-right) - played in the Mechanics' first ever match but there is no record of any further appearances. went on to play for Ilkeston St Marys
A. Jackson (outside-right) - busy player who appeared occasionally during all three seasons
William Matthews (right-back) - born Cotmanhay 1859. appeared during the winter months of the 1882/83
Alexander McCann (half-back) - born Market Harborough 1862. first appeared in late 1883 and played occasionally until the end of the 1884/85 season, playing his final few games in goal
Henry Mills (outside-left) - born Ilkeston 1864. played in a handful of games at the end of the 1884/85 season
Fred Paling (centre forward/left-half) - born Ilkeston 1863. played in the very first match. had a high work rate and a powerful shot, and once fell in the river Erewash that ran alongside the pitch at Ironville. later joined the first Town club after being a regular throughtout with the Mechanics before going to Cotmanhay Wanderers. the Mechanics' top scorer over their three seasons in all likelihood 
Ezekiel Reynolds (left-half) - born Ilkeston 1857. played for the Mechanics at the end of the 1884/85 season
F. Riley (defender) - appeared occasionally during the 1882/83 season
J. Riley (centre-back) - made several appearances midway through the 1884/85 season
T. Riley (half-back) - played in the very first match but soon lost his place with only sporadic appearances during the 1882/83 season thereafter
Dr. Robinson (centre-forward) - the doctor made only one known appearance midway through the 1884/85 season but made a favourable impression
William Roe (inside-right) - born Loughborough 1853. played in the first ever game but is not believed to have appeared again
J. Saxton (defender) - right-sided player who featured frequently during the first half of the 1884/85 campaign
Harry Sewell (centre-forward) - born Nottinghamshire 1864. only known to have played in one game when he appeared alongside brother William in December 1882
William Sewell (forward) - born Nottinghamshire 1861. mainly known as a central forward, but was highly adaptable and also appeared in central defence and even in goal. appeared frequently during the first two seasons before joining Ilkeston Commercial. an excellent crosser 
John Shakspeare (goalkeeper) - born Belper 1860. brother of co-founder William and appeared occasionally in 1883/84 and 1884/85
William Shakspeare (full-back) - born Belper 1859. played in the very first match, and was also club secretary, becoming vice president of Ilkeston Town in 1888. a regular performer during the first season but he rarely figured thereafter. primarily a defender but he also appeared in a number of different positions
Frampton Spencer (left-back) - born London 1864. played in the very first match and a superb tackler. a versatile defender who featured regularly during the first two seasons
Samuel Statham (forward) - born Ilkeston 1865. played in the very first match, left in 1885 for Ilkeston Commercial, and later joined the first Town club before appearing for Ilkeston St Marys. played in most positions for the Mechanics throughout the three seasons without ever being an automatic choice
Thomas Statham (centre-forward) - born Ilkeston 1863. only known to have played in one game, towards the end of the 1882/83 season
Samuel Stone (forward) - played in most games in the first season but does not have appeared to have played for the Mechanics thereafter
Phil Straw (right back/half back) - born Ilkeston 1853. free-kick expert who first appeared early in 1883 but who ceased to hold down a regular place before his departure late in 1884. known to have later played for West Hallam
Freddie Tilforth (half-back/inside-forward) - born Breaston 1865. strong tackler and a fine player who could operate well in most positions. left in 1885 for Ilkeston Commercial before joining the first Town club and then Ilkeston Wanderers where he became treasurer in 1888. first appeared in late 1882 although it took a year for him to truly establish himself 
Joseph Tilson (goalkeeper/right-half) - born Ilkeston 1850. could play anywhere and was a hard working player who captained the Mechanics in 1882/83 before leaving in 1885 to join the first Town club. a mainstay of the team throughout he was first choice goalkeeper during the first season before moving into the half-back line
William Tilson (outside-right) - born Ilkeston 1856. a good passer who later played for Ilkeston Wanderers. played regularly in 1883/84
George Toplis (left-back) - born Ilkeston 1862. appeared once early in 1883 but not thought to have appeared again
B. Townsend (inside-left) - a good passer who appeared frequently in 1883/84 and much of 1884/85
G. Wagstaff (outside-right) - made occasional appearances towards the end of the 1884/85 season. later appeared for the first Town club
F. Walker (left-back) - broke into the team towards the end of the first season but did not figure afterwards
White (right-back) - known to have appeared once for the Mechanics in November 1884
A. Whitehead (inside-right) - made several appearances during the winter of the first season
Fred Wilkinson (full-back) - born Newcastle 1867. first appeared at the start of the 1884/85 season before returning as the season drew to a close. later played for first Town club, Ilkeston St Marys, Cotmanhay Wanderers and the re-named Ilkeston Town
J. Winfield (inside-left) - first played towards the end of the first season but his appearances in 1883/84 were restricted
John Wood (inside-left) - born Heanor 1865. appeared in the very earliest fixtures but never selected again 
Charles York (goalkeeper) - born Hucknall Torkard 1849. played in the very first match but that remains his only known appearance