Barlow and Bromilow – Olympians

Two players, George Barlow and George Bromilow, who both played for Southport and both stayed amateur throughout their careers also have something else in common, they were both selected for Olympic Games football teams.

George Barlow, born in Wigan in 1885, was first. Standing at just 5ft 6inches George was a speedy and clever forward and was once described as the “the pluckiest footballer of his inches that ever came up smiling after rough treatment.” He played for Preston North End, Everton, Northern Nomads and Southport, playing one game for Southport in the 1914/15 season and 21 games in the 1918/19 season. He also played in five amateur internationals and it was this amateur status that allowed him to be picked for the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. This was the first football tournament to be played by national representatives – the two previous Games had been played between club sides – and it threw up some incredibly high scoring matches. Eight teams had initially entered but Hungary and Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) withdrew leaving just six teams to compete. France sent two teams and because of these withdrawals France “A” and the Netherlands reached the semi-finals without playing a game. Two preliminary round games were played, Denmark beating France “B” 9-0 and Great Britain beating Sweden 12-1. In the semi-finals Great Britain beat the Netherlands 4-0 whilst Denmark beat France “A” by an eye-watering 17-1, Sophus Erhard Nielson scored ten times for Denmark and in doing so became the first player in history to score ten goals in a full national team match. The French were so shocked by this defeat that they declined to play the bronze medal match and went home leaving the Netherlands to claim third place by beating Sweden 2-0. In the final, played at White City, an attendance of 8,000 saw Great Britain take gold by beating Denmark 2-0.

Sadly George didn’t get any game time but the record books will forever show that he was in the Great Britain squad for the very first official Olympic football tournament.

George Barlow was just 35 when he died in tragic circumstances. In the space of eight days of February / March 1921 George’s widowed mother died, then his younger brother Tom died and, on the day that Tom was being buried George himself died, the cause of death for all three being septic pneumonia.


George Bromilow was born on the 4th December 1930 and made his debut for Southport on the 20th August 1955 away at Barrow, scoring twice. In total he made 84 appearances for the club scoring 37 goals including 5 in an F.A. Cup win against Ashton United. Being an amateur George was eligible for – and selected for – the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and in the first round scored twice for Great Britain as they thumped Taiwan 9-0. Sadly he was unable to repeat the feat in the next round as Great Britain exited the competition following a shock 6-1 defeat to Bulgaria who were then beaten in the semi-final by the eventual winners the Soviet Union.

 George played a number of amateur internationals for England including one on the 7th March 1954 against the Netherlands at Rotterdam which drew an attendance of 58,000. A late goal gave the Dutch a 1-0 win in a game they classed as a full international.

A local school teacher all his life, first at Churchtown and later at Meols Cop, George passed away in Southport on the 19th December 2005.

This article first appeared in The Sandgrounder Match Day Programme 2022-23