The death of Eddie Latheron, like so many other players who fell during the horrors of World War One, touched not just Blackburn but the wider footballing family.
Latheron was an England international who had helped Rovers win two league titles – 1912 and 1914 – and was still in his prime when a German shell took his life in October 1917.
Latheron arrived at Ewood Park in March 1906 as a result of a piece of good fortune for both parties. A party of Blackburn officials had gone to watch Grangetown in order to run a check on Jack Burton. Burton was duly signed, but Latheron also impressed enough for Rovers to pay £25 to bring him to Ewood Park. Whilst Burton quickly faded from the first team picture, before moving on, it was Latheron who gradually built up a reputation as a scheming inside forward.
Known as ‘Pinkie’ due to his fair complexion, Latheron proved to be the complete footballer. Although not the tallest of men, Latheron was deceptively good in the air, but it was his quality with the ball at his feet that made him a special talent.
Touch and timing were impeccable and although a capable goalscorer in his own right, it was his vision in creating chances for others that made him a favourite with the Ewood crowd.
A key member of the sides which were crowned First Division champions in 1911-12 and 1913-14, Latheron was capped by England in March 1913 when he scored in a 4-3 victory over Wales. The following year, he won a second cap against Northern Ireland and, but for the intervention of war, might well have gained more international honours.
When Rovers closed down operations for the 1915-16 season, Latheron joined Blackpool for the season, but returned to Ewood for the start of the following campaign. He scored 16 goals in 22 appearances in what would be his final hurrah for the club although, as these were in wartime football, the figures are not included in his first class total of appearances and goals.
His final appearance for the club came on March 17th 1917 when he scored in a 2-2 draw with Bury at Ewood Park. Like so many others from the Lancashire cotton towns, he marched off to war never to return.
Latheron served as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery and when posted overseas joined 75th Battery, 5th Brigade RFA on the Western Front. His Ewood teammate and close friend Alec McGhie relayed news of Latheron’s death back to Blackburn.
A shell burst near the dugout which was occupied by Latheron and the splinters passed through an opening and killed Latheron and another gunner.
Latheron was buried at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery near the Belgian town of Ypres. He left behind a widow and young son, together with countless memories of a gifted and talented footballer.
Latheron totalled 281 appearances & 104 goals.