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George Loftus 1936– 2011 (48-56)

a note from David Bolton and Des Hardman

George (“Podge”) Loftus was born in October, 1936 and died on the 20th October, 2011, following a long battle against cancer. He attended St Francis Xavier’s College in Salisbury Street from September, 1948 to July, 1956, and was the second eldest in a family of nine – four brothers and four sisters – of whom six are left.

George lived with his family in Clarence Street, off Brownlow Hill, for the first five years of his life until the house was flattened by Nazi bombs in May, 1941. Fortunately, the family was visiting his grandmother, in the Fazakerley area, at the time. He was evacuated to Uxbridge shortly afterwards and attended an RC village school on the Windsor road, where he was taught by nuns. He had already started school in Liverpool, attending St Nicholas’ School, and had memories of the gravel pits and canal near by.

He returned to Liverpool in the school year 1946 – 1947 and went to All Saints School in Anfield, near the junction between Oakfield Road and Walton Breck Road. At this time, the family lived in Towson Street (now demolished, 50 yards from the turnstiles to the Spion Kop). Later they moved to the family butcher’s shop in Walton Breck Road. George recalled working in the shop after school and in the holidays, as well as occasional visits to the Gaumont Cinema in Oakfield Road (now a Community Café!!) escaping briefly from the grey drabness of those post – war austerity years into some Hollywood technicoloured dream. In the same year as George at All Saints Primary School were Des Hardman, Joe Murray, John Meskell, Terry Bolland and Maurice Forslow and John Halpin, all of whom went on to S.F.X. (Sheila O’Hanlon was also in this class - later she became Mrs Peter Smears).

As George was a year behind me (David Bolton), it was not until we played in Kevin Reade’s successful Junior Shield –winning football team that I first got to know him, when we formed a right – wing partnership which was to prove useful..On Monday, 5th March, 1951, S.F.X. defeated Prescot G.S. at Anfield by four goals to nil, George adding two goals in the second half to my two in the first. By 1953, George had established himself in the 1st XI by dint of his electric pace on the right wing and his ability to score goals, displaying a hard shot from a distance with left or right boot. He won both the 100 and 220 yards Finals on Sports Day in 1954 and in his last year at school, in 1956, he was a key member of the First XI which drew 2 – 2 with Quarry Bank in the Senior Shield final at Goodison Park, only to lose in the replay at Bellefield. As the College Magazine put it: “ G. Loftus. on the left wing, was invariably the leader of virile and enterprising attacks. His undoubted success was due largely to his fine burst of speed, his ball control and his well – timed passes….” His skills did not go unnoticed and he was selected as Reserve for the Merseyside Grammar Schools XI v I Zingari League.

Successful in “A” Level Mathematics, George left school in 1956 to do his National Service in the Army, and I understand that he “signed on” and spent much of his career there – (some doubt about this - others may know more about these years? Ed.). His interests included family history, music, theatre, ballet, walking and travelling and he enjoyed visits from his family at his home in Beeston, Nottingham. A quiet and modest person, George had the role of full time carer for his wife, Gillian, from the time of his retirement in 1991 until her death from Multiple Sclerosis in 1998.

One of George’s last visits to Liverpool was in 2010 when he journeyed from Derby to meet two of his sisters and me (Des Hardman) for an afternoon at All Saints Church and Parish Hall. The parish was celebrating the centenary of the present church (not the original). Everyone relished the reminiscences of our primary school years. I had not seen George in such a happy, relaxed and healthy mood since his re-appearance in 1955.

George enjoyed our O.X. Reunions at the Racquet Club from 2005 onwards and even when illness prevented him from attending, he would send a generous contribution to the cost of the evening.

May he rest in peace.