Handley George Image 1 Southampton 1911

Handley George Image 1 Southampton 1911


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Totley, Sheffield born outside left George Handley began his football career with local junior club Hallam in 1902 and represented Sheffield Schools four times in the annual matches against London Schools. After a spell on the books at Sheffield United Handley signed for Second Division club Chesterfield in January 1905, making his Football League debut against Leicester Fosse in March 1905. After less than two years with Chesterfield during which he scored 4 times in 25 appearances, he joined Bradford City for the first time in October 1906 for a fee of £250.

He showed his goalscoring prowess with two hat-tricks in four matches against Clapton Orient and Chelsea in March 1907. In the 1907-08 season Handley scored 17 goals, a club record for a winger, from 39 matches helping City to the Second Division Championship and promotion to the top flight, however he struggled to repeat this form in the First Division and by 1911 Handley had fallen out of favour after making just 21 appearances in three seasons since promotion.

His availability attracted the attention of Southern League club Southampton’s new manager George Swift, whom Handley had first met while at Chesterfield. Swift was Southampton’s first appointment as manager and promptly embarked on a spending spree, signing 11 players in six weeks, including Handley in May 1911. Handley was immediately drafted into the first team on the left wing, making his Southern League debut at home to Millwall on 2nd September 1911. Described as “an orthodox player, who depended on team-mates to create openings” he was, however, one of Swift’s better signings. After Swift was dismissed at the end of the season having scored twice in 24 appearances, Handley left The Dell and took up a post of player-manager with Midland League club Goole Town in April 1912.

In December 1913 he returned to Bradford City where he made just one appearance against Blackburn Rovers in February 1914, before signing for Lancashire Combination club Barrow just prior to the outbreak of the First World War. During the War, Handley joined the Royal Flying Corps, and made occasional guest appearances for Sheffield United and Stoke, (playing twice for The Potters in 1915-16), before returning to Bradford City after the cessation of hostilities. After two more seasons in the First Division with The Bantams, during which he made a further 17 appearances and took his overall total to 31 goals in 110 appearances with Bradford City, Handley moved to Switzerland to take up a coaching position with Sport Club Brühl in April 1922 before retiring from football.

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