A community’s sorrow and support for a Teesdale First World War widow is witnessed in the story of a New Year’s Day football match in honour of Barnard Castle soldier George Stout.
A popular Teesdale football player, a football match was organised in George’s honour as a means of supporting his widow and three young children.
Corporal George Stout of the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry was born in August 1887. He lived in Thorngate, Barnard Castle, in what is now The Blue Bell Inn and worked as a miner. Although just 5 foot 3 inches tall, he was also one of the stars of Barnard Castle’s football team.
Stout lost an arm in 1916 and was discharged from the army on the grounds of “being no longer physically fit for war service”. George’s discharge card can be seen below (Thanks to David Charlesworth, Teesdale postal historian)
George took a job as a postman, but his injuries unfortunately caught up with him. Sadness was felt in Barnard Castle on Christmas Day 1918 as George, affectionately known as “Pompy”, passed away after a short illness.
Hoping to avoid destitution for George’s widow and children, the local community rallied to create a fitting tribute to George: a football match. Local people were said to be “anxious to give a helping hand” to George’s widow and their “kindness of heart” was praised in the Teesdale Mercury. Local players worked speedily to organise a match, which took place on New Year’s Day 1919 in Barnard Castle. The Teesdale XI played against soldiers from the York and Lancaster Regiment, who were fitter and stronger and ran out 4-0 winners.
As the final whistle blew, the community were able to gift Mrs Stout and her children the sum of£15 from a well-attended event organised at short notice. George Stout’s name can be seen on the Bowes Museum’s war memorial.