THE lichen is concealing the lettering and the branches of a yew tree are hiding the gravestone, however on the rear of Darlington’s West Cemetery is the grave of in all probability the one man born within the city to win a gold Olympic medal.
Ronald Gilchrist Brebner achieved his feat within the 1912 Video games in Stockholm after which, as his gravestone information, died two years later, in 1914, aged solely 33, fatally injured in a match.
He was a dentist by commerce, and an novice footballer from a really completely different period.
His was the age of truthful play as, within the Olympic semi-final, his team-mate intentionally put a penalty kick over the bar as a result of GB thought the referee’s award was harsh.
However his was additionally the age of deadly play, when the foundations allowed goalkeepers to be assaulted, and this may occasionally properly have led to the Olympian’s loss of life.
Brebner was born in Darlington. He shares his gravestone together with his father, David, who got here from Edinburgh in 1866 to arrange a gunmaker’s enterprise in Bondgate, close to the Faucet and Spile pub.
Because the gravestone information, David additionally died younger – 38, drowned within the River Tees when his horse and cart was overturned in Neasham ford as he returned residence with some pigeons for a taking pictures competitors.
The boy Brebner was solely two years previous. He went to Darlington Grammar Faculty, the place he learnt his love of soccer, after which to Edinburgh College, the place he studied the artwork of dentistry. However as an alternative of filling in cavities, he took to filling in between the sticks, and went to London to play for the Caledonians. He additionally turned out for Sunderland and Chelsea. He was chosen for an all-London novice facet, and was referred to as up for his nation as England’s novice goalkeeper.
Round 1910, nearing his thirtieth birthday, he returned to his birthplace to cool down. He began a dentistry observe in Bishops Home, Coniscliffe Street and turned out as an novice for the skilled Quakers.
This coincided with Darlington FC’s best run within the FA Cup. They swept by three qualifying rounds – which included victory over Wingate, who had a participant despatched off for “intentionally kicking on the Darlington custodian” – and into the primary spherical correct at First Division Sheffield United.
In opposition to all odds, the Quakers gained, with Brebner man of the match. “Not often earlier than may such a masterly exhibition of goalkeeping have been seen at Bramall Lane, ” mentioned the Echo’s reporter, The Nut.
On the ultimate whistle, the five hundred Darlington followers carried the keeper shoulder-high off the pitch, and at Financial institution High station the staff was met by Cockerton band, which paraded them by a cheering throng within the city centre.
Within the second spherical, Second Division Bradford Park Avenue have been despatched in entrance of 12,030 folks at Feethams, however within the third, Swindon City – nicknamed the Shunters – derailed the Quakers’ glory prepare by three objectives to nil.
The dentist, although, as soon as extra had the style of glory in his mouth – his objective was to go one higher than the England novice staff and get a name up for the complete facet.
The subsequent season, 1911-12, he appears to have turned out for Queen’s Park Rangers, Huddersfield City and the Northern Nomads – a touring membership based mostly in Manchester. And he obtained the call-up for the 1912 Olympics.
Soccer had been launched to the London Video games in 1908, and GB had gained the primary gold. They kicked off the second match towards Hungary – “in all probability the perfect of the Continental elevens”, mentioned the Echo.
After quarter-hour, with the sport scoreless and the Hungarians revelling within the sweltering temperatures, Britain conceded a penalty, to be taken by Bodnar. The Darlington dentist saved “grandly”, which impressed his teammates to attain two objectives instantly.
“Throughout this primary half, 5 of the British gamers have been laid out quickly, and Hanney was so shaken up that the interval noticed his everlasting departure from the sector, ” mentioned the Echo. “Earlier than resuming the sport, the Britishers had a chilly tub,” mentioned the Echo.
The chilly tub refreshed the legs of the remaining ten Britishers, and so they ran out 7-0 winners, Harold Walden of Bradford Metropolis scoring six.
Two days later, GB performed the semi-final towards Finland. With Edward Hanney nonetheless so shaken, Harold Stamper of Stockton obtained a sport as centre half.
The Finns have been poor. They scored an personal objective after two minutes; Walden added a second after seven, and GB sat contentedly again, even “ostentatiously” skying a penalty as a result of they thought the referee had made a foul resolution.
“The second half opened with the Finlanders organising a sturdy defence, which prevented the realisation of the clamorous demand of the Britishers on the bottom, expressed within the insistent and stentorian refrain: ‘We would like extra objectives!'” reported the Echo. “Halfway by the second interval, the Finns made a most decided effort to cut back the lead, however an impressive save by Brebner triggered the failure of the try.”
The sport ended 4-0, and the ultimate two days later was performed towards Denmark in entrance of a crowd of 25,000, which included the King of Sweden.
Within the thirtieth minute, Brebner was crushed “with a ripping shot” for the primary time within the Olympics, however by then Britain have been two objectives to the nice. A couple of minutes later, British captain Vivian Woodward charged von Buchwald and the Dane was so badly injured he needed to retire. In these pre-substitute days, the ten Danes carried out bravely however went down 4-2.
The Darlington dentist arrived residence together with his gold medal, however relatively than dedicate himself to the drill, he joined Second Division Leicester Fosse (now referred to as Leicester Metropolis).
Nonetheless, in an early match towards Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Olympian was so badly injured – presumably diving on the toes of an opponent and breaking his neck – his profession was completed.
As, successfully, was his life.
“From the difficulty that supervened, he by no means recovered, ” mentioned the Echo.
He went to a nursing residence in Newcastle, after which to reside together with his medical brother in London, however died 15 months later.
“He was undoubtedly some of the succesful novice goalkeepers within the nation, and he attained virtually all of the honours that come to an novice, though his ambition to be chosen in a consultant sport for all England was by no means realised, ” mentioned the Darlington and Stockton Instances of November 14, 1914. “He represented England steadily in novice worldwide video games, each at residence and on the Continent, and was honoured by being chosen as one of many staff representing this nation within the Olympic video games in Stockholm.”
The gold medal winner was buried, together with his father and mom, behind West Cemetery.