Olympic gold for Liverpool

Tonight the 25th summer Olympics draw to a close in Athens in Greece. Football does not play a big part in the modern Olympics. The nations usually send their under 21 teams to play with the addition of two or three senior players. Great Britain always sends a combined team to the Olympics to take part in whatever sports that takes place. But not in football and Britain have not taken part in the football competition of the Olympics for many decades. But in the early part of the last century Britain did send a football team to the Olympics. The team was selected as an amateur team with no professionals included. That was in line with the rules of the Olympics that stated no professionals should compete at Olympic games.

During these early Olympic years two Liverpool players managed to play at the Olympics and win Olympic gold medals. In the 1908 games in London, Arthur Berry played in the victorious Great Britain team. Arthur was selected again four years lates when the Olympics took place in Stockholm Sweden. Again Arthur was victorious. Also in the 1912 winning team was Joe Dines, who right after the games joined Liverpool. The two were lucky in the way that they possesed medals of solid gold. The Stockholm Olympics were the last games that the gold medals were made of solid gold. Ever since the gold medals have been made of some specially blended gold mixture.

Arthur and Joe did not have long careers with Liverpool. Arthur, who was a forward or a winger and played for several other clubs, had two spells with Liverpool. First from 1907 to 1909 and then in the 1912/13 season. He played four games during his two spells. Arthur was a barrister by profession. His father was on the board of Liverpool F.C. from 1904 to 1909. Joe, who was a very good left half, played only one game for Liverpool in the 1912/13 season. Joe was a son of a blacksmith and was a schoolmaster by profession. He was said to have played his game with a smile on his face and was a very good dribbler of the ball. He was tragically killed in action on the Western Front in September 1918 only 32 years old. Only two months later the First World War was over! Too late for Joe like so many young men who lost their lifes in their prime.

Both Arthur and Joe played quite an number of games for the English amateur national team. Arthur played 32 games and Joe 27 times. Arthur also played one game for the full England team. He was then player with Oxford University. The game was against Northern Ireland and England won 4:0. In the England goal that day was the great Liverpool goalkeeper Sam Hardy. Since Arthur and Joe played football at the Olympics only one Liverpool player has competed at Olympic games. In the 2000 games in Sydney Brad Friedel played in goal for the U.S.A. His did not manage to strike gold like Arthur and Joe before him. The two have therefore an unique place in the history of Liverpool F.C!

Sigfus Guttormsson

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