MY recent feature on Peasley Cross footballer Alex Finney has prompted Star reader Geoffrey Chisnall to get in touch.

Geoff tells me that his grandfather's brother was Tommy Lucas who holds the distinction of being the first St Helens footballer to play for England.

And just like Finney, Tommy played soccer while his brothers toiled down the pit.

This is revealed by the 1921 Census, which lists Thomas Lucas as a resident of Burtonhead Road in St Helens.

The 25-year-old's employer is shown as "Liverpool A.F.C." and his place of work as "Anfield, Liverpool".

Living in the same house were three of his six brothers who were working at Sutton Heath and Sherdley collieries.

St Helens Star: An early photo of Tommy LucasAn early photo of Tommy Lucas (Image: Stephen Wainwright)

All the brothers appeared football mad and played the game as amateurs, with 87-year-old Geoff commenting: “My granddad John was known as "Penalty Jack" due to his prowess from the penalty spot."

However, his brother Tommy was the only Lucas to sign professional forms after initially playing for a number of local clubs, including Sherdley Villa, Sutton Commercial and Peasley Cross.

The defender joined Liverpool during WW1 and made his competitive debut for the side in 1919.

The Reds had not won the Football League since the 1905/06 season but triumphed in Division 1 in 1922 – with Tommy Lucas a fixture at full back.

Geoff’s full name is Geoffrey Lucas Chisnall and in pride of place in his Eccleston home is a cigarette card featuring an illustration of his footballing ancestor.

It had been in 1927 when Douglas Machin, aka "Mac", had selected Tommy Lucas to be caricatured as one of the 50 best players in England.

The John Player cigarette cards also included Everton’s legendary centre forward Dixie Dean.

St Helens Star: A cigarette card of Tommy LucasA cigarette card of Tommy Lucas (Image: Stephen Wainwright)

By then Tommy had three international caps to his name against Ireland, France and Belgium and he went on to play 366 times for Liverpool before leaving the club in 1933.

Two years later he retired from the game and became a publican at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, dying in 1953 at the young age of 58.

But what was Tommy like as a player?

Leslie Edwards served for many years as sports editor of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo and wrote using the pseudonym of "Bee".

He described the St Helens lad as: "One of the best headers of a ball Liverpool ever had", commenting how Tommy was only 5ft 6 inches tall but could rise "amazingly in the air. A bit like Kevin Keegan in that respect."

But Alex Finney and Tommy Lucas were not the only professional footballers from the Peasley Cross district during that era, as in 1931 Bee wrote: "It is said, and quite truly, that at one time anyone could go into a certain street in the Peasley Cross district, blow a referee's whistle, and half a dozen players would pop out of the house in Tommy Lucas (Liverpool), Alec Finney (Bolton Wanderers), Jack Bamber (Liverpool and Leicester), Billy Murphy (Manchester City), Steve Murray (Everton and Reading), and W. Molyneaux (Liverpool and Luton)."

If any of these were your relatives why not contact the Star with your memories of them?

Stephen Wainwright's latest book 'The Hidden History Of St Helens Vol 2' is available from the St Helens Book Stop and the World of Glass and online from eBay and Amazon (free delivery). Volume 1 of 'Hidden History' is also still available. Hidden History Vol 3 will be available in September