Derby Olympian: Horace Bailey (1881-1960)

The 1908 GB Olympic Football Team. Horace Bailey is on the back row, fifth from left.
Image originally uploaded to Wikipedia

Horace Peter Bailey was born in Derby on 3rd July 1881 to Peter Bailey, an iron and brass moulder / iron foundry foreman, and his wife Sarah.  By 1891 the family had moved to 36 Dairy House Road where they lived for over twenty years.  Horace attended St James’ Church Boys School in Derby in the early 1890s.  That decade St James’ had footballing success in the Derbyshire Boys’ Junior Shield; having lost in the final in 1893, they won the competition in 1894 and 1895.  Horace wasn’t in the 1895 team (he had probably already started work) but I’d be interested to know if he was involved in previous years – I haven’t found much information so far.

After leaving school he was employed as a clerk with the railway whilst also playing football as an amateur.  He kept goal for Crich, Ripley Athletic and Leicester Imperial before joining Leicester Fosse (later Leicester City) in 1907, and in his first season there the club won promotion to the First Division.  Horace made his debut for the England Amateur football team in February 1908.  He also won five caps for the main England team that year, starting with a 7-1 win over Wales.  The other four games were played during their central European tour; the first internationals they ever played against countries other than home nations.

London Olympics

That summer London hosted the Olympic Games, stepping in at short notice for Rome, as the Italians had to divert their funds to cope with the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  It wasn’t until October however that the football tournament was held, and the England Amateur team (with Horace in goal) represented Great Britain.  Over the three matches he only conceded one goal: the team beat Sweden 12-1, the Netherlands 4-0, and Denmark 2-0 in the final to win gold.

After making 68 appearances for Leicester Fosse, he came to the aid of injury-stricken Derby County for the last few games of the 1909-10 season.  The Rams were in the running for promotion to the First Division, but away to West Bromwich Albion they only drew 0-0, meaning they finished one point behind the league champions Manchester City and lost out on the second place promotion spot by goal difference.  From the Derby Mercury, 6 May 1910:

The hero of the match was the “Rams’” new amateur goalkeeper.  Despite serious injuries he kept his charge intact from frantic onslaughts.  True, the occasions when he was called upon were few, but once or twice he saved in magnificent style.  All praise to him for a thorough sportsman, his indomitable pluck served his new love well in the hour of danger.  And it meant much to him, for so seriously hurt was he that he has had to forego a trip to Copenhagen with an amateur team, a trip he had set his heart upon.

Finished his career at Birmingham

Horace joined Birmingham (later Birmingham City) in 1910 and finished his career there after making 50 appearances for them.  He was reserve goalkeeper in the Great Britain squad that won gold again at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, but didn’t get a game.  On 6th August 1913, Horace married Minnie Dorothy Smith, the daughter of a jeweller, at Hazelwood parish church.  During the First World War, he enlisted with the Royal Engineers 109th Railway Company, reaching the rank of corporal, and was posted to Italy.  Interestingly his army service record lists his height as 5ft 8¼, which was not very tall for a goalkeeper even back then.  Though after the war he moved to Bedfordshire, where he died on the 1st August 1960, his old school magazine reports that he kept “up his connection with (St James’) school through its Old Boys’ Association”.

This article was originally published on the Derbyshire Record Office blog.


Derby Mercury, 18 Mar 1896

Derby Mercury, 6 May 1910

Derby St James’ Church Boys’ School Magazine, No 14, May 1929 (D6560/4/14)

Hazelwood marriage register, 1847-1933 (M281 vol 3)

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