George (Alex and Jack) Chaplin

Three boys were born in Dundee in the ten years from 1882, all sons of a mother from the hamlet of Tealing just north of the city and a Stone-mason from Glamis. Each went on to be successful pro-footballers, one playing, albeit once, for Scotland, and all went Down South, none coming back. They were John (Jack), George and Alex Chaplin, all three full-backs.

Jack was the eldest. His career took him first to home-town Dundee, from there to Spurs, back to Dens and then Manchester City, plus managing Huddersfield. Alex, the youngest, started at Dundee Hibernian and then seven seasons at Fulham, captain for three, and finally an interesting wee stay at Northfleet. Which leaves George, pictured, who was the internationalist, had a senior career that took in Dundee, Bradford and Coventry but would end in some disgrace.

George Chaplin was born in 1887, playing his junior football with Dundee Arnot, stepping up to the senior game, already tall and powerful in build at still eighteen. He would receive his cap at nineteen, albeit performing poorly, and in 1908 leave for England the month after his twenty-first birthday, Jack from Tottenham re-joining Dundee to step into his younger brother's boots. And the middle Chaplin would go to Bradford and clearly settle in. He would remain at the club until the Great War. In 1911 he would marry a Skipton girl, Henrietta Burns, that same year having to take what would be two years out to overcome tuberculosis. Yet he would return, notionally to stay with the club until the end of hostilities, when at thirty-three he would be appointed captain at Coventry City, newly elected to the English Division Two. 

This was as meantime Jack completed his playing days at Manchester's City, going on to two fascinating decades still in the game, and Alex began his at Fulham. From Hyde Rd. the former had almost immediately joined as a trainer former team-mate at Whitehart Lane, Herbert Chapman, when he took on the management of Leeds City, in 1917 married Eva Wallwork in Leeds, they would have one son, and in 1921 went again with Chapman to Huddersfield, becoming on his departure in 1926 manager at the Yorkshire club for three years that would include two second places in the League and then a Cup Final. Alex on the other hand would enlist during the Great War, in 1916 in Brentford in London marry Marjory Hair, a Kirriemuir girl, with whom he would have five children, four surviving, go on over the seven seasons to 1926 to make the best part of 300 appearances and be captain at Craven Cottage and seemingly stay on at the club in a training capacity at least until 1929. And from then he would remain living in the West London, working as a plasterer, outliving his wife by nearly two decades and dying in Fulham in 1986, aged ninety-three.

Yet, if Alex's life was uncontroversial, the same cannot be said for his two elder brothers. Jack's would end in tragedy. After stepping down from football management he remained as a trainer moving to Doncaster, where in 1952, at their home, he aged seventy, recorded as an invalid, the body of his wife was found dead and he barely alive, to die later in hospital. The cause was barbiturate poisoning in what looks like a double-suicide. In the meantime George Chaplin's four year stay at Coventry had ended in scandal. In 1923 with one game to go the team was in danger of relegation out of the League. A win would save them, a win or draw for Rotherham would condemn them so Bury, their last opponents of the season, was bribed to lose, George Chaplin was implicated, his career was over and after three years of investigation he was banned sine die. But in reality it made little difference. He was already in his mid-thirties and established in the pub trade, where for the last twenty three years of his life, dying still in harness in 1963, he would be licensee of the Warwick (Arms) Hotel in Leamington Spa.

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