Francis John Cashnella
Awarded Life Membership in 1929
Born: In Bath, 1879
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 12st 9lb
Education: St Mary’s R C School, Bath.
Achievements: Captain 1903/4
Honours: Somerset County XV 1900-1908
Debut game: 1st January 1898 v Exeter
Final game: 12th March 1921 v Llanelly
Number of Appearances: 381+
A Bath Club ‘Great! – First game at 18 – last for Bath in mid 40’s!
Is ‘Cash’ playing? was the first question when visiting teams arrived at Bath, for he was both feared and admired by all and sundry for his physical presence, dash and rugby prowess. In the early 1900’s Frank John Cashnella was a mighty hero with the crowd.
He started his football career with the former Widcombe Institute club at age 15. Word has it that he gave up the Association game: “because it was too rough.!”
He moved on and from the Oldfield Club, made a casual appearance for Bath in 1898 against Exeter, graduating to the premier club in 1899. He captained Bath for the 1903-4 season.
Frank ranked among the best as a fearless tackler, great dribbler and a solid attacking force in the scrum where he put in every ounce of his weight.
Cashnella earned his Somerset County cap, playing in many games with distinction.
His record in club allegiance:- 1894, Widcombe Institute, 1895 , Park Rovers, 1896 , Argyle, 1897 and 1898 , Oldfield Park, Bath 1899 to 1909 and onwards – even stepping in to fill a gap as late as 20th December 1924 at age 45.
After his playing days he served on Committee, was Club Chairman 1928-29 and elected Life Member in 1929.
In 1946 he retired after 33 years conscientious work for the City Council. Bowler hatted, he had been a familiar figure around town. He was frequently consulted on his knowledge of local history.
He loved gardening and was quite an authority on all things horticultural, especially sweet peas.
In his playing days he had been afraid of no one, but a lion heart shielded a tender nature and feeling for his fellow man – so evident in later life.
Extract from Obituary in the Bath Chronicle 31st July 1948:
“Frank Cashnella – rest his soul- was a Spartan of the old school. The figure with the rolling gate, the twinkling humorous eyes, and the leonine head thrust forward from the huge shoulders-will be remembered as the Bath club forward who once carried four opponents over the line with him. Bath Football Club and “Cash” were synonymous.”
“As strong as a lion he was a redoubtable forward in an era or great forwards….”
A lovely man.
BATH CHRONICLE 18th September 1909
It is safe to assert there is no a better-known figure in Rugby football circles than in Frank John Cashnella Not only in his native city is he a familiar form, but all grounds that Bath are in the habit of visiting “Cash” is known, and respected. “Is Cashnella here?” is a question heard on every side at places where the Bath fifteen are about to turn out.
And though these same questioners may make uncomplimentary remarks about this dashing forward, because of the fine game he plays against their side, yet they unquestionably admire him for his strength and prowess.
“How old is Cash?” That is a question many have asked. Perhaps they will be surprised to learn that he celebrated his 30th birthday this week – having been born on September 16th, 1879 . The difficulty to believe this fact arises from the number of years Cashnella has been before the public. But it has to be borne in mind that he started early. In 1894, when only 15, he was playing for the old Widcombe Institute team. He gave up playing football because as he said:-.
“I was having a game of cricket at the end of the season on the Widcombe ground, when the Claverton captain, who was short, seeing a likely looking youth, asked me to play football.I did so, and had my shoulder dislocated. That was the first and last attempt at soccer!”
It was in 1897, when a member of the Oldfield Park team, that he turned out for Bath. It was against Exeter. That was only a casual appearance, but it 1899 he became a regular member of the 1stXV, and has been a most regular, consistent, and loyal forward ever since. In the season 1903-4 he was captain of the 1stXV, and it will be remembered that under his leadership the club had a remarkably successful campaign.
As a county player Cashnella made his debut at Taunton against Cornwall in 1901, a memorable match in which the late Reggie Forrest scored a splendid try that won the game.
His appearances that season were four in number. In 1902-3 he figured in six of the seven Somerset contests. He was then at the top of his form, despite the fact that in the previous season, while playing on the Clifton ground, which was partially covered with frozen snow, he sustained a serious accident, which necessitated an operation and several weeks in hospital. For many seasons afterwards Cashnella wore the Somerset colours, and on the last occasion that Cornwall visited Bath he scored two tries against them. Few men wear their county cap with more right to the distinction.
It is not necessary here to enlarge upon Cashnella’s characteristics and innumerable splendid achievements, for are they not written in many “Chronicles “? Though he has now entered upon his fourth decade, it is safe to say he will still raise frequent cheers and register lots of tries.
Asked of the finest team he has ever met, Cashnella unhesitatingly gives the palm to the Kent Combination that defeated Somerset at Weston-Super-Mare in 1903.
Original immigrant was John Casonelli, born 1824. Came to UK from Genoa 1831 aged 7 ????
Eventually married a Jane Brimson (laundress) and lived at 8 Calton Road, Bath.
In Kelly’s Directory 1896 – listed as a brewer.
Had 6 children including Francis born 1879.
Known Bath descendants: John Cashnella who played for Avon R.F.C. and his son Martin.
Martin known to us as a boy; he used to fish Horseshoe Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal behind our house at Lime Grove. (circa 1970’s)
Martin lived with his grandmother, a Mrs Harris who was owner of an artists’ material and art gallery shop in Green Street, Bath. (F J Harris established in1821 in Parsonage Lane, Bath.)
Parents were divorced. (Mother – Jean Lloyd ran the Green Street business) Martin now the owner
Grandmother, Mrs ‘Bet’ Harris was entered in Guinness Book of Records as oldest Managing Director in UK. Died at 92. Husband Cedric had pre-deceased her
A memory from Arnold Ridley’s unpublished autobiography ‘The Train and Other Ghosts’ which his son Nicolas Ridley reproduced in his own biographical memoir ‘Godfrey’s Ghost’:
“On winter Saturday afternoons, I sometimes extracted an extra penny from my father in order to support Bath Football Club … My chief heroes were Frank Cashnella, a pallid, black-moustached and utterly ruthless forward who could be counted on to have the best of numerous fights, and an albino of great physical strength with frizzy snow-white hair know to the populace as ‘The Silver King’. In 1908 I became a member of the club paying … half-a-crown for a boys’ membership ticket. I have been a member ever since …”