April 8, 1905
Amongst the prominent recruits in the ranks of the Liverpool reserves, there is no more promising player than the subject of our present sketch. Steady, reliable and willing, with the inestimable advantage of youth on his side, we trust that George Latham will qualify for a permanent place in the Liverpool League team in the near future. Some players there are who reach a certain standard and prove incapable of further advancement, but we have sanguine hopes that Latham will rise above these difficulties and emerge as a player worthy of ranking in the best of company.
George Latham was born at Newtown, in Montgomeryshire, a place which has produced some notable players at various times, on New Year’s Day, 1883. When a lad, he attended evening classes at the New Road School, and with the team belonging to that institution first learnt the rudiments of football. Friendly matches were chiefly indulged in, but in a medal competition the school eleven ran into the final, only to be beaten by the narrow margin of one goal. Latham assisted the team for one season, and usually occupied the inside right position.
When 16 years of age he joined the Newtown club, which was at that time connected with the Combination, and he figured in either of the inside positions of the forward line. Charles Parry was a prominent player on the side, and the club succeeded in reaching the fourth round of the Welsh Cup Competition when defeat was sustained at Aberystwyth. One season finished his term at Newtown, for at this time the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa attracted Latham’s attention, and he joined the Volunteer Company of the 24th South Wales Borderers, along with two or three other young Welshmen, including Richard Morris.
For fourteen months he was actively engaged against the Boers. His company joined Lord Roberts, and took part in engagements at Zand River, Brandfort, Potchefstroom, &c., and marched through Bloemfontein to Johannesburg, and thence to Pretora. Our young Corporal received his discharge in Cape Town, and was decorated with a medal and four bars for his services.
He then commenced playing football at the Cape, and joined a team know as the Docks, as outside right, with whom he played for one season, during the months of May to August, which constitutes the winter term in South Africa. His club were runners-up in the League, which included organisations known as Pensiula, Caledonians, & c., and the latter beat them in the final of the Mayor’s Cup. Latham also participated in the England v. Scotch match, between representatives of the two countries then in the Colony, assisting the former eleven, whilst he played for a team designated the Mother Country against a Colonial born side. In addition, he was chosen by one, Mr. A.D. Godbold, a great football enthusiast, to assist his team, which was making a tour through Natal, and matches were played at Port Elizabeth and elsewhere, all of which were won by the tourists. This pleasant outing lasted a month and proved a great success from every point of view.
Latham then returned to his native town, in time to start the football season of 1902-3 at Newtown. For two months he figures in his old team and played inside right in the Welsh Cup tie with Wrexham, on the latter’s ground, a draw being the result.
The form displayed here led to Latham being offered a trial with Everton, and he should have donned the colours in a friendly against West Bromwich at Goodison Park, but on that day which, by the way, was the same afternoon that Liverpool were being trounced in a Cup Tie at Southampton, snow fell so heavily that the match was cancelled. He was chosen for a second trial a fortnight later, but in the meantime had decided to return to South Africa again.
On March 22nd, 1902, he left England, and experienced another football season at the Cape. He joined the Caledonians this time, and by a singular turn of Fortune’s wheel, his club were the runners-up in the League, and were beaten in the final for the Mayor’s Cup by the Docks, his first choice, which led to some good humoured banter at his expense, for not rejoining his former comrades. Latham did not remain long in the land of velds and kopjes, and at the commencement of the season 1902-3 he expressed a desire to play for Liverpool. This was readily arranged, and he assisted the Anfielders during this campaign as an Amateur, generally playing outside right.
The following year he became a professional, and having an idea that he would make greater progress as a half back, he was transferred to the intermediate line as centre. Last season he figures in nearly every position in the team, and a like experience has been his lot this winter. He may be rightly regarded as the general utility man of the side, and in this fashion has rendered useful service to his club.
International honours have fallen to his lot, rather fortunately. For the fixture with Scotland at Wrexham Maurice Parry was chosen, but he was unable to play owing to an important League fixture, being due at Bradford the following day. This proved to be Latham’s opportunity, and by a curious stroke of luck Parry was unable through injuries to play against England at Anfield, which again let in Latham. In every probablility his third cap will be gained against Ireland, this week-end, Saturday, the 8th inst.
Latham is an untiring worker on the field, and his ceaseless emery more than compensates for any deficiency in point of ability. He stands 5ft. 8in., and in sturdily built, for he scales the beam at 12st 4lbs. In feeding his forwards he has shown considerable improvement recently, and with experience he should quickly remedy these failings, which at present keep him from being regarded as a League player of the first water. There is no mistaking his enthusiasm, however, and with such a footballer all things are possible. He indulges in cricket, and as wicket keeper has displayed some cleverness; but football is his game, and were it not for the present serious predicament of the Liverpool club, we should like to see how he disports himself in the League team. Under happier auspices this consummation may possibly be realised, and Latham will not be found wanting.
(Official Match Programme: April 8, 1905)