George Harrison – Grave Dedication

A MOVING tribute was paid to ‘one of our own’ as representatives of some of Britain’s biggest football clubs descended on South Derbyshire.
George Harrison was a Church Gresley teenager with a dream of making it to the top when he started playing football for his local team, Gresley Rovers, back in 1910.
It was the beginning of stunning career that later saw him win a top flight title with Everton and two caps for England.
Amidst it all he was called to fight for his country on the front line during the First World War.

THE Everton FC Heritage Society has paid for the new headstone for footballer George Harrison, who went to play for England Everton.

Pictured from left are society chairman Paul Wharton, ex-player Ian Snodin, Reverend Henry Corbett, and society vice-chariman Peter Lupson.

VIOLINIST  Daniel Axworthy plays while , Paul Wharton, Peter Lupson, Rev Henry Corbett and Ian Snodin look on.

CHARLIE Smith placed flowers on the grave. ,also to the right Kieran Smith alongside Everton Ambassador Ian Snodin

More than 100 years since his career began, and on the 77th anniversary of his tragic death, a new headstone was laid in Church Gresley’s York Road cemetery.

Funded by the Everton FC Heritage Society, representatives from the Toffees, the now named Gresley FC and Preston North End gathered for a dedication to the footballer ‘we should never forget’.

Society chairman Paul Wharton said: “Evertonians and Everton FC never forget our history.
“We respect all of the players that helped make our club one of the biggest in the country, and this is a show of respect from us.”

The grave of George Harrison had only been rediscovered in the cemetery one year ago by Church Gresley’s Kieran Smith, 36, who had been researching the region’s best players.

It was he that set the ball rolling in approaching Everton, who sent a large cohort of representatives including championship winning ambassador Ian Snodin.

An emotional Mr Smith said: “George is one of our own. It’s moving that he has been here for so long and we didn’t know.
“He was playing football in an era that laid the foundations of the game and what Everton did was fantastic. It is so important he is remembered.”

A violinist played and flowers were laid by Mr Smith’s son Charlie during the dedication.

Mr Snodin and heritage society vice chairman Peter Lupson both spoke fondly of George, who they said would always be part of their ‘band of blue brothers’.

During his career he also played for Leicester Fosse, Preston North End and Blackpool.

The footballer’s life was tragically cut short aged 46 when illness led to him ending his own life, just seven years after he retired and moved back to Church Gresley.

EVERTON FC’s Heritage Society chairman described George Harrison’s story as like ‘something from Lord Of The Rings’ – a young footballer from a South Derbyshire village who took a journey to achieve greatness before returning home again.
He player 11 times for Gresley Rovers in 1910 before moving to Leicester Fosse and then onto Everton, where he won the league in 1915.
After fighting in the war he returned to football, winning two caps for England, and playing until 39 when he returned home to run the Rising Sun pub.

MORE details have been emerging about one of South Derbyshire’s greatest ever sporting stars after the re-dedicated of his grave in an emotional ceremony.
Representatives from Everton FC travelled to Gresley FC’s Moat Ground, in Church Gresley, and then onto the York Road cemetery last week to pay tribute to the great George Harrison.
Little was known about the village’s England international footballer until just one year ago, when his grave was rediscovered by villager Kieron Smith.
But who was George Harrison, and why should he be one of Church Gresley’s favourite sons?
Born in the village back in 1892, he was a boy with a dream of playing football at the highest level.
Harrison made his debut for Gresley Rovers as an 18-year-old at Coalville Town, and quickly began to build a reputation as a tricky left winger with a fearsome shot.
His talent was so evident he was almost immediately attracting the attention of bigger clubs.
After being spotted by scouts he was signed by Leicester Fosse – who later became Leicester City – and his path to the very top had begun.
Things really took off for Harrison in 1913 when he joined Everton and the following season they were crowned champions of England – Harrison had made it.
He went on to make 190 appearances for the club, scoring 17 goals.
However, this remarkable man, like so many at the time, was forced to pause his career when war arrived. He signed up to fight in the First World War on February 7, 1916, and joined up with the elite Scots Guards the following year.
From there he travelled to France, entering front line trenches at the Battle of Passchendaele, where he fought for his country and was subjected to gas attacks.
Harrison was in hospital when the war ended.
The winger continued his career after wartime. He became the first recorded player from South Derbyshire to win an England cap – he played twice in 1921.
He became an Everton legend, as he remains today, before moving on to play for Preston and Blackpool.
He finally hung up his boots at the age of 39, coming home to Church Gresley in 1936 to run the Rising Sun pub. Tragically, Harrison was blighted by ill health and falling into depression took his own life at the age of 46.


By Richie Gillham

1 Comment

  • After much dedicated research and hard work, most notably by Rob Sawyer of EFC Heritage Society, support for the project came from Everton FC, the Football Association of Wales, the National Football Collection and the Parry family.

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