George Sharples , a strong, blond, midfielder, who was Jimmy Meadows’ first signing for the club in June 1971, died earlier today at Barrow in Furness Hospital aged 77 after being diagnosed with oesophagus cancer in March.
George Frank Vincent Sharples was born in Ellesmere Port and although he attended Wirral Grammar school, which was an exclusively rugby-playing school, football was always his first love.
He became something of a football prodigy and as a schoolboy was referred to as a ‘second Duncan Edwards’. George represented England Schoolboys and subsequently became an England Youth International.
George joined Everton straight from school as a 15 year old and made his Football League debut when 17 , deputising for Jimmy Gabriel in a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion on 5th November 1960 in an Everton team which included Billy Bingham. George found few opportunities at Goodison Park, particularly after the signing of Tony kay and made just 10 first team appearances.
Transferred to Blackburn Rovers for £7,000 just before the transfer deadline in March 1964, he was a regular at left half in the side which was relegated from the First Division at the end of 1965/66. After making 99 League appearances for the Rovers (plus 4 sub appearances) he suffered a broken leg following a tackle from Derby County’s Dave Mackay on 1st March 1969 and never played again in the first team although he remained with the Club until the end of 1970-71 season.
At Haig Avenue he played in 23 League games, all in the number six shirt, and a further 2 substitute appearances forming an experience midfield partnership with John McPhee . Between 11th December 1971 and 10th April 1972 George played in 21 out of 23 League matches when he sustained a knee injury at Harlepool which led to a specialist diagnosing arthritis after which he retired from the game aged 28. Subsequently he confined his sporting activities to cricket , being more than a useful player.
Moving to Pleasington, near Blackburn George was employed at the Star Paper Mill, eventually becoming Northern Sales Manager . In his retirement George lived at Grange-over-Sands for many years. His wife Carol predeceased him.