Manchester born full back George Roughton began his football career with local team Droylsden in the Manchester League in 1927 before joining First Division Huddersfield Town, for whom he made his Football League debut at Leeds United in May 1929. Despite playing in most of their fixtures in the first half of the 1929-30 season, he lost his place in December and didn’t play in the 1930 FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal. He established himself in The Terriers’ first team that finished in the top 6 in 4 consecutive seasons, and he helped Huddersfield to the runners-up position in the 1933-34 season playing 29 times in that League campaign.
Roughton was a member of the FA Touring party that visited Canada in the summer of 1931 and featured in international trials in 1931 and 1934. He went on to win inter league honours for The Football League playing in a 6-1 victory over The Irish League in Belfast in September 1934.
In September 1936, after 171 appearances, he moved back to his native Manchester joining Manchester United, but at the end of his first season with them they were relegated to the Second Division, although they were promoted straight back up as Second Division runners-up in 1937-38. He continued to play for them until the outbreak of the Second World War, by when he had made 92 appearances.
After the War, he joined Exeter City as player-manager in October 1945, playing 4 FA Cup ties in the 1945-46 competition before hanging up his boots to concentrate on management. He kept The Grecians on an even keel over the next 6 seasons but didn’t achieve any real success, generally finishing lower mid-table in the Third Division (South). In March 1952, he moved to become the manager of Southampton, taking over from Sid Cann who had resigned the previous December. As part of the deal with Exeter, Norman Kirkman moved in the opposite direction to become player-manager.
Roughton’s time at The Dell was not a great success and the Saints were relegated to the Third Division (South) at the end of his first full season in charge. He was unable to regain Southampton’s place in Division Two, and in September 1955, he was asked to resign, to be replaced by the man who would change Southampton’s history, Ted Bates.
After leaving Southampton, he worked part-time for the Hampshire F.A.