George Latham MC and Bar was born in Newtown, Powys on 1 January 1881. As a footballer, he played for Newtown, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Stoke City and Southport Central. He was also capped, ten times, by Wales.
As a military man, George served in the Second Boer War and the First World War. He received the Military Cross for his bravery in Gaza, Palestine and Turkey, 1917-18, and the Bar for his courage in Beersheba, 1918. George completed his military career with the rank of captain.
George was also a successful coach. He coached Cardiff City during their halcyon period, 1911 – 36, when the team won the FA Cup, 1927, and narrowly missed out on the league title, denied by goal difference.
George’s origins were humble. The fifth of six boys, his parents were William, a labourer, and Esther, a laundress. He attended New Road School then trained as a tailor in Market Street.
As a teenager, George played for Newtown as an inside forward and achieved modest success. However, in 1900 he volunteered to serve in South Africa during the Second Boer War. He joined the Fifth South Wales Borderers, who were stationed in Newtown.
In fourteen months George saw action in a number of places, including Brandfort and Potchefstroom. He rose from private to the rank of corporal. He played football in South Africa, for a team named the Docks. After the Boer War, George also played for the South African side, the Caledonians.
George’s footballing career in England was, initially, patchy. He joined Liverpool, but had to wait three years before his debut, on 8 April 1905. Never a first team regular, he made only nineteen appearances in seven years. Moves to Southport and Stoke followed before George joined Cardiff City as player-coach in February 1911.
In George’s first season, Cardiff City won the Welsh Cup, defeating Pontypridd 3 – 0 in a replay. George replaced the injured Bob Lawrie in the replay, but presented his winner’s medal to him after the game.
George was a squad player at Cardiff City, filling in for injured players. Nevertheless, he won ten caps for Wales, making his debut on 6 March 1905 in a 3–1 victory over Scotland. George’s tenth and final cap, on 18 January 1913 v Ireland was notable: due to a lack of fit players, as coach George joined the team. Wales won, 1 – 0.
In footballing terms, George’s main skill was as a coach. Working alongside Fred Stewart, he guided Cardiff City to the FA Cup final on two occasions. Cardiff lost 1 – 0 to Sheffield United in 1925 before tasting victory against Arsenal in 1927 in a famous match that ended 1 – 0.
During his spell with Cardiff City, George arranged annual charity matches with his hometown club Newtown to rise money for the Montgomery County Infirmary. After George’s death at the infirmary in 1939, Newtown named their ground Latham Park in his honour.