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Remembering a Rovers hero

On the 100th anniversary of his death, we pay tribute to legendary former midfielder Eddie Latheron

14 October 2017

Today, Saturday October 14th 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of one of Blackburn Rovers’ most talented midfielders, killed in the trenches while fighting for his country during World War One.

Eddie Latheron played for Rovers from December 1906 until March 1917, making a total of 303 appearances for the club and scoring 120 goals.

He won two Football League Championship medals and also played in the 1912 FA Charity Shield, held that year in aid of the Titanic disaster appeal.

Latheron even appeared for Rovers on two European tours before the First World War.

Born Edwin Gladstone Latheron in Grangetown near Middlesbrough on December 22nd 1887, he was signed by then Secretary/Manager Robert Middleton.

He was spotted playing for Grangetown Athletic against Blackburn Crosshill in the FA Amateur Cup and cost Rovers just £25.

Known to all as ‘Pinky’ because of his complexion, he was a skilful inside forward. Despite his lack of height, he was good in the air and possessed fantastic ball control, coupled with a fine shot.

Described as being the ‘fetcher and carrier’ in the team, Latheron and the legendary Bob Crompton were the force behind the all-conquering pre-war Rovers sides of 1912 and 1914. 

He was capped twice by his country, scoring on his England debut against Wales in a 4-3 victory in March 1913 – and he also represented the Football League.

When war broke out, many professional players were heavily criticised for not joining up and in the summer of 1915 the Football League suspended its normal activities.

With Rovers electing not to join the wartime competition, Latheron and Crompton briefly played for Blackpool until the Rovers board relented and decided to enter the regional competition in 1916-17.

However, at the age of 29 and at the peak of his career, Eddie played his last game for Rovers against Bury at Ewood Park on March 17th 1917, scoring in an eventual 2-2 draw.

Enlisting five days later at Blackburn Recruitment Office, he went on to fight for King and country, joining the Royal Field Artillery as Gunner 160461 of the 73rd Battery in the 5th Brigade.

After training, he was posted to The Western Front, serving on the Ypres Salient in Belgium. He was killed by a German shell seven months later during the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele).

Latheron is buried at the Vlamertinge New Military Cemetery, three miles west of Ypres. He left a widow and a young daughter.

Club staff recently went to lay flowers at the site, in tribute to a truly inspirational Rovers hero of the past.

Belgian Rovers supporter Luc Goderis said: "He was killed in action and left behind a wife and a young child. We just want to say ‘Eddie, we never will forget you'. 

"Comfortable on either side of the field, he was an accomplished goal scorer and a gifted playmaker with an unquenchable enthusiasm and established himself as a fans' favourite."

 


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