THE life story of George Latham is one worth sharing with each passing generation.

Newtown’s most famous footballing son was born on New Year’s Day 1881 and would go on to enjoy an action packed life which would see him live as an icon and upon his death inspire the name of the town football club’s ground.

Latham began his football career with Newtown in 1897 and would spend his teenage years playing in the fields of Mid Wales.

At the time Newtown had a military garrison stationed in the town and many young men from the region enlisted to serve during the Second Boer War in South Africa.

Latham left the army a corporal 1902 and returned home where he signed for Liverpool.

However the half back waited three years to make his debut and would make just 19 appearances in seven years at the club.

During this time Latham made his international bow with his first cap in a 3-1 victory over Scotland when he lined-up alongside fellow Mid Wales born players Walter Watkins and Grenville Morris in a side which also included the famous Leigh Roose and Billy Meredith.

Latham joined Stoke City in 1910 and would earn the last of his 10 international caps as player-coach in a 1-0 win over Ireland.

For by now war clouds loomed over Europe and Latham enlisted for service in World War One.

Latham saw action in the Middle East where his gallantry earned him the Military Cross and Bar.

The tale of his actions in Gaza soon became that of legend in Newtown and across Montgomeryshire.

A 1935 edition of the Montgomeryshire Express recounted: ‘Lieut Latham’s platoon of the Royal Welch Fusiliers ‘charged through the prickly pear hedge and captured a machine gun, collected twenty Austrian and German prisoners, some of whom were officers, and about twelve Turks.

‘He is stated to have cleared the cactus gardens and rounded up all the prisoners under heavy fire from snipers, helped Major Pemberton of the Cheshire Regiment, to organise all the men he could get hold of and built up a line of defence round the prickly pears, commanding a good view of the Gaza town, a splendid position for a counter attack.

‘The captures were of great value in as much as the officers happened to be the general and his staff of a division of the Turkish Army. And the inimitable George Latham marched them all back into our lines.

‘But the experience did not end there. Orders to retire were despatched but Capt Latham and Capt Walker of the 7th RWF never received them with the result that he remained still seething with Turks all night and was surprised to find none of his own men there in the morning. ‘

Latham returned to football as coach Great Britain in the1920s Olympic Games in Belgium before taking over at Cardiff City and aged 41 became the club’s oldest ever player.

Latham masterminded the club’s rise’s rise through the English League pyramid and FA Cup glory in 1927, the first time the trophy had been brought to Wales to write his own chapter in the history of British football.

Throughout Latham brought Cardiff City to play in Newtown in annual charity matches in aid of the town’s Montgomery County Infirmary.

Latham ended his career as coach of Chester City where he guided the club to Welsh Cup glory in 1933.

Two years later Latham was described in the Montgomeryshire Express as ‘one of the best known characters in the soccer world. Certainly there is no more lovable man or more illustrious personality.

‘Captain Latham is known wherever football is played and is often spoke of as the best sportsman who ever came from Montgomeryshire. Despite his many delightful qualities, he has one bad trait, and that is a disturbing modesty.

‘When told at Chester that the Express wanted to publish something about his eminent and exciting career he calmly observed “Ah well, they know quite enough about me in that part of the country.” There is a great deal of truth in it. After all to tell Newtown people about George Latham is akin to telling the people of Loch Ness about the monster. They know it all, for he is the idol of the town.’

Latham returned to Newtown following his retirement in 1936 and passed away at the town’s Montgomery County Infirmary at the age of 58.

However the legacy of the town’s most famous sporting son lives on to this day thanks to Newtown Football Club naming their new ground in his honour in 1951.