Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Sunday, 6 April 2008 09:43 UK

Manager hero of 1927 FA Cup win

By Nick Dermody
BBC News

National Library of Wales archive of the 1927 FA Cup in Rhayader, Powys
A man thought to be George Latham parades the FA Cup in Powys in 1927

No re-telling of how Cardiff City won the FA Cup in 1927 would be complete without the story of the war hero who led them to victory, George Latham.

A skilful midfielder, Latham had been capped for Wales a dozen times before he became the Bluebirds' manager.

He played for Liverpool, Stoke and Cardiff and went on to manage Britain's squad in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

He also won an Military Cross in World War I and had the ground at his home town, Newtown, Powys, named after him.

Latham is now barely remembered as man who led the team that was the first - and only - to take the cup out of England.

Born in Newtown on New Years Day 1881, he played for the town team in the 1897-98 season before seeing military service for the first time, in the Boer war, until 1901.

We shook hands with all of them - we actually drank from the cup - in those days it was called the English Cup."
Bluebirds fan Jack Blayney, 86

After returning from South Africa, he rejoined Newtown before joining Liverpool in 1902.

He stayed on at Merseyside for seven years, but he only played 18 times for the first team during that period.

He moved to Southport in 1909, before joining Stoke City in 1910 and Cardiff in 1911. He was eventually capped for Wales a dozen times.

War once again interrupted his sporting career when he became a captain in the Welsh Fusiliers, winning a Military Cross for gallantry in Turkey for taking a number of enemy positions while under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.

After the war, he began a career in coaching and coached Britain's 1924 Olympic team in the Paris Games.

But the highlight of his career has to be coaching the 1927 Cardiff City team that brought the FA Cup to Wales.

One man who remembers the day the "English Cup" came to Newtown is lifelong Bluebirds fan, Jack Blayney.

Now 86, Mr Blayney was just eight-years-old when his father, who was a coachman at the Bear Hotel, had orders to fetch Latham, the team and the cup from the town's railway station.

He said: "He took me and my older brother. We shook hands with all of them. We actually drank from the cup. In those days it was called the English Cup."

The prize silverware was paraded along the balcony overlooking Broad Street to a cheering crowd and the young Jack was there.

Latham Park

"We had a birds-eye view," said Mr Blayney who, with his wife, Rhoda, has been an active volunteer at Newtown AFC for decades.

The couple plan to retire from their volunteer work at the club at the end of this season, when Mrs Blayney marks 50 years of support.

Mr Blayney remembers George Latham as a "a tubby man". He said: "He was a well-built fellow. He was well liked and would get on with anyone."

Latham was badly injured in a biking accident in 1936, and was forced to give up his coaching role.

He retired to Newtown and died in July 1939, aged 58. A number of famous footballers attended the funeral.

Newtown AFC named their 5,000 capacity ground Latham Park when it moved to its present site in 1951.

His great, great niece Hazel Way said Cardiff's latest attempts to claim the FA Cup would have pleased Mr Latham.

"He would be absolutely thrilled I'm sure - it's so exciting," she said.




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