FROM LEIGH TO THE TERRACES
Christianna Little was born in Leigh in 1840, the daughter of John Little, a fisherman, and his wife Susannah Osborne. In 1863 in Camberwell Christianna
married James Priest, a butcher from Birmingham. Their eldest of these, James William Priest was born in 1864 and became a performer joining the theatre with the stage name of Jim O’Marr and appears to have started his career in a comic double act called Lisburn & O’Marr between 1886 and 1892. Then another act called Hartley & O’Marr. In 1894 in Chapeltown, South Yorkshire he married into one of the leading variety families of the period, the Hodsons.
His wife, Henrietta, was the daughter of Joseph Charles Hodson and his wife Emma Taylor who owned and ran a portable theatre. Henrietta’s father and mother were old stage hands and were still performing into very old age. Joe was known as England’s Oldest Showman
Hettie and Jim O’Marr – billed as the 2 O’Marrs, together with their daughters, travelled as Hodson’s Varieties. Jim wrote much of his own material and songs and he and Hettie toured for years.
Jim was an avid football fan and wherever he played the theatre he wore the colours of the local football team and made one particular song famous wherever he went. And it is a connection to football which is why many of us should remember Jim O’Marr with the Mum from Leigh. The song he made famous (although he didn’t write it) for years rang across the football terraces. It was ‘Football Crazy’.
For he's football crazy, he's football mad,
Football it has taken away the little bit o' sense he had,
And it would take a dozen servants to wash his clothes
Since Paul became a member of that terrible football.