Signed as cover for the controversial “Happy Jack” Hillman, Frank Briggs joined Everton, from Darwen, in January 1906 having first played football in the Nottinghamshire Coalfield. He had been born at number 84 dwelling – on the Alfreton Turnpike at Eastwood – in 1872 and was the 3rd of child of John, a Domestic Servant, and his Wife, Lucy.
Henry Briggs is missing from the1891 census but contemporary newspaper reports place him keeping goal for a Midland League side who were the forerunners of the Mansfield Town of today. His skills quickly caught the attention of struggling Football League Division One outfit Darwen who gained his signature in February 1894. The Cricket and Football Club ran side by side in the Peaceful Valley and the community offered Briggs, a cricketer of proved ability, terms that would also guarantee him a wage throughout the months of Summer. He immediately took his place under the crossbar but could not prevent the Darreners from being relegated at the end of the season.
During the summer he returned home to marry Rosina Ingers in her native Nottingham before returning to continue playing cricket for Darwen. Briggs proved to an excellent signing as Darwen adjusted to life in lower tier but the club was now in financial differ cuties due to dwindling attendances. The executive “turned down” the initial bid of £40 – made by Everton – but following an increase of £10, they reluctantly agreed to release him from his contract.
The new goalkeeper took his place in the Everton second X1 and remained there until the final game of season when he made his debut in a 2-1 win against Stoke at the Victoria Ground. Next season Briggs took over the goalkeeping duties following the departure of Hillman to Dundee. Everton began the new campaign brightly but the results then started going against them. Briggs keep goal consistently until the 12th of November when he was injured in the home with Bolton Wanderers and was replaced by new signing Bob Menham. He never played first team football for Everton again.
Nevertheless, he remained for one more season in the reserve pool and was then placed on the transfer list at a fee of £100. Both Blackburn Rovers and Woolwich Arsenal expressed an interest in signing Briggs but thought the asking price was too high. Briggs appealed to FA council to have it reduced holding that Everton had acquired his services for half the amount they now wanted for his signature. The FA committee found in his favour and Briggs joined Lancashire League side Nelson for an undisclosed fee, where he spent several seasons. He later suffered from the injury he had incurred while with Everton, as the following newspaper article confirms…
A victim to the perils of football has today entered the Blackburn & East Lancashire infirmary in the person of Frank Briggs formerly goalkeeper with Darwen, and afterwards with Everton and finally Nelson and also wicketkeeper with East Lancashire Cricket Club. Briggs received a kick while playing for Everton on one occasion, and the result has since affected him in the area of the groin. The trouble has steadily got worse and since the day on which he made 61 runs for East Lancashire, against Lowerhouse, incapacitated from both work and play and it is to be feared that his case offers little hope. It is intended to do something for the relief of his family who are in distress, and the object should not suffer from the lack of interest. Briggs has won applause of thousands at: Darwen, Liverpool, Nelson and Blackburn (Northern Daily Telegraph, 31st of August, 1898.)
The amount of help Henry Briggs received, following his release from hospital, is not recorded but he appears on the 1901 census living at 44 Milk Square in Nottingham. He declares his employment to be a Hawker and Rose has borne him 2 sons, Charles and Benjamin. The number of children had increased to 6 at the time of the 1911 census that finds the family now living, still in Nottingham, in Alvers Yard off Fishergate. The head of the household is now working a Bricklayers Labourer.
The Briggs family later moved to 41 Snow Street where Rose passed away 6 months after her son Benjamin had enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. Sent to Flanders, he was killed in action on the 10th of October 1918 and buried at Ramicourt Cemetery near the town of Aisne. His Father lived until 1944 and died at Basford in Nottinghamshire.