In Memoriam Bill Holmes & George Sharples

We have been advised of two former Southport players who have passed away recently. Bill Holmes who played 56 games scoring 21 goals for the club between August 1954 and March 1956 has died aged 94.

George Sharples who played 23 games between September 1971 and April 1972 has died aged 77.

George and Bill will both be included in our In Memoriam video for 2020 and it’s a good time to remind anyone who has a friend, relative, former player who has passed in 2020 to let Rob Urwin rob@southportfc.net or call 077900-41514 know so they can be included in the roll call we do ahead of our first match of 2021 as well as added to the video and article in the programme.

SOUTHPORT PEOPLE REMEMBERED

Michael Braham has penned the obituaries for Bill and George that appear on the Former Players Association page of Dan Hayes PortOnline website.

We are saddened to learn of the death of Bill Holmes, one of the Club’s oldest surviving players who passed away earlier this month, aged 94.

Like his contemporary  George Bromilow , Bill was a schoolteacher and a former Amateur International. Hunslet born,  his family  moved to Morecambe  when he was a toddler. There he attended Lancaster Road Junior School  and was captain of the Morecambe Grammar School football team . As a youngster he played for both Morecambe and Lancaster City in the Lancashire Combination.

Bill served in the RASC and Educational Corps from 1946-48  during National Service and on being demobbed he went to Leeds University where he obtained a B.Sc in Maths and physics. Leaving University Bill joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and played in their Central League side. When regular centre-forward  Jesse Pye was injured Bill was selected to play in a League game at Middlesbrough on 14th January 1950  but he had previously agreed to turn out for Yorkshire Amateurs in the FA Amateur Cup tie and was not prepared to break his commitment to them.

Bill next played for Doncaster Rovers where he made his Football League debut. Still an Amateur he joined Blackburn Rovers where he netted in each of his first five appearances scoring 16 goals in 21 Second Division matches and a further three in the FA Cup including one against local rivals Burnley in Rovers 3-1 victory at Ewood Park in the sixth round tie. The Summer of 1952 saw Bill as  a member of the Great Britain squad which competed in the Olympics in Helsinki but was not selected to play. He did however win six Amateur International caps for England.

After two seasons with Blackburn Rovers Bill signed as a full-time professional with Bradford City and came to Haig Avenue in an exchange deal which took Kevin Walsh to Valley Parade. A strong, forceful player he was top goalscorer in 1954-55 season. On the morning of 30th October he was married to Gay Petrie at St Cuthbert Church and in the afternoon scored a hat-trick against Carlisle United thus emulating he feat of Bill Poyntz for Leeds United thirty-two years earlier.

The following season, one of Southport’s greatest ever, Bill was coming into form with five goals in four games when he injured an ankle against Barrow on 13th December 1955 and thereafter made only occasional appearances. He retired from football at the end of the season. During his two seasons at Haig Avenue Bill scored 21 goals in 56 League games.

Whilst at Southport he taught Science and P.T. at Everard Avenue Technical School, Liverpool. Seven years later a career move took him to Woolaton, Nottingham where he became a Training Officer at Boots and later worked at Allied Breweries as a training Manager. In later life he became a keep- fit instructor at various venues in the Nottingham area. In November 1995, the Nottingham Evening Post reported that the classes had been running for ten years and interest was greater than ever.  His courses providing a blend of exercises followed by coaching in games such as volleyball, badminton, indoor hockey and table tennis.

George Sharples

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 2020.

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.

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