Boullemier Leon Image 1 Lincoln City 1895

Boullemier Leon Image 1 Lincoln City 1895


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Stoke-on-Trent born goalkeeper Leon Boullemier, often known by his anglicised surname Bullimer, was of French parentage and began his football career on the books of both Stoke in 1892 and Burslem Port Vale in 1893, but never appeared in the Football League for either club. He joined Fairfield later in 1893 and played three times for Stockport County in the Lancashire League in 1894-95, then joined Second Division Lincoln City at the end of that year, making his Football League debut in a 1-0 home defeat against Liverpool in December. and he was ever present for the remainder of the 1895-96 season, as Lincoln finished in 13th position in the 16-team division. He played in every match again the following season, as Lincoln finished bottom of the League and were required to apply for re-election. Although their application was successful, Boullemier left the club, and signed for Southern League club Reading.

He spent one season with Reading, playing in the Western League as well as the Southern. According to ‘H.L.B.’ in the Sporting Mirror, “the Reading eleven is a hard-working one, and possesses a powerful defence, with a splendid goalkeeper in Bullimer”. A rib injury sustained during a match in March 1898 caused the club to bring in another goalkeeper, in the shape of Leicester Fosse’s Arthur Howes, to cover for a few weeks while Boullemier regained his fitness.

He spent the 1898-99 season with Brighton United, also a Southern League club, and ended his playing career with Midland League club Northampton Town, joining them in 1899.

He went on to become a football referee. In 1907, he was officiating regularly in the Southern League, and a couple of years later he took an FA Cup first-round tie between West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers. After refereeing a match in Ireland between Linfield and Belfast Celtic in 1914, Bullimer received a police escort off the field to “[escape] the attentions of a rowdy section of the crowd, who did not approve of some of his decisions”. His protectors were unable to prevent him being kicked by a young man, who was convicted of assault.

Bullimer was Northamptonshire County Cricket Club’s official scorer for more than 50 years. When future Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman was in charge of Northampton Town before the First World War, he occasionally acted as substitute scorer when Bullimer was unavailable.

He was active in fund-raising on behalf of the club, its players, and cricketers in general. According to an overview of the club in the 1958 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, “no reference to Northamptonshire cricket would be complete without mention of Leo Bullimer … [whose] efforts in raising funds did much to keep Northamptonshire going during some of their worst financial crises.” In 1933, he proposed the establishment of a fund to guarantee cricketers a minimum £500 return from their benefit match, so that players were not disadvantaged by having represented a “smaller”, financially weaker, club. When England and Northamptonshire opening batsman Fred Bakewell suffered head injuries and a badly broken arm in a car accident in which a teammate was killed, and was unable to resume his career, Bullimer organised financial support for him so that he would not be solely dependent on public assistance.

His younger brother Lucien Boullemier played for Stoke, Burslem Port Vale and Northampton Town.

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