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It’s a common complaint today that English youngsters have to join the back of the queue at big football clubs like West Ham and Chelsea – the imported talent is pinching all the best jobs.
You might think it’s a modern problem, but almost a century ago London lads were having a hard time elbowing their way past foreign players – only these boys were Scottish!
The bosses of the new London clubs like Chelsea and Thames Ironworks (soon to become West Ham United) put together ready-made teams of Caledonian talent.
So great was the influence of the Scots that when one Londoner scored five goals on his Chelsea debut, the club programme described him as “living proof that to become a first-class footballer it is not necessary to be born north of the Tweed”.
That man was Bromley-by-Bow born George Hilsdon, known forever more as “Gatling Gun” in recognition of the way he rattled in the goals.
George was born on August 10, 1885, in the long-since demolished Donald Street. He went to Marner Street School and was soon playing at centre-half for the school team.

Hammers debut
He quickly moved to club football and at 19 was playing for Boleyn Castle FC, near to his family’s new home in East Ham.
Meanwhile, the newly-named West Ham United were looking to expand from their old ground in Canning Town. The Boleyn ground was ideal and, as part of the deal, the club took on Boleyn Castle FC as their reserve team.
George signed for West Ham and, in 1905, was in the side that held Woolwich Arsenal to a draw in the FA Cup.
But it was joining Chelsea for the 1906-07 season that really kicked off George’s career. That sensational five-goal debut has never been equalled in English football – and it was another 50 years before a Chelsea player again hit five in a match.
That player was Jimmy Greaves, but even Greavsie never hit six, as Gatling Gun did a few months later against Worksop.
George scored 27 times that season and earned Chelsea promotion in their first year of professional football – he’d really earned his £4 a week wages.
England caps soon followed, with George scoring three times in a 6-0 rout of the Irish League before going on to score 13 times in just eight international games.
Back at Upton Park in 1912, George found himself playing alongside home-grown talent. The “old international” as he was known – though he was still just 27 – was credited with bringing on the young Syd Puddefoot, one of the greatest strikers ever to pull on the claret-and-blue.

War tragedy
But the Great War was looming and though George tried to avoid active service – being caught by the police hiding in a chicken run on one occasion – he was called up.
In the words of his son, he “copped the mustard gas at Arras” and would never be quite the same again. George scraped a living as a teaboy on building sites, ran a pub and, on occasion, organised a dodgy raffle round East End boozers – Mrs Hilsdon always won.
He died in Leicester in 1941 and only four people came to the funeral. No stone marks his grave, neither is there a plaque to mark his achievements. Only the record books stand testament to the power of Bromley’s Gatling Gun.
Gatling Gun George Hilsdon, by Colm Kerrigan is out now. Published by Football Lives, 4 Earlham Grove, London E7 9AB, price £5.75. ISBN 0-9530718-0-4.

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A lot more than Jack the Ripper and the Tower of London

London - or London England if you prefer - is one of the most culturally and historically exciting places on the planet. You may know it as the home of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the home of the Queen and Buckingham Palace. And of course it's been the seat of the monarchy since Queen Victoria, Henry VIII, right back to William the Conqueror.
Our beat is the East End of London. You'll certainly have heard of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders, may have romantic images of a fog-shrouded Victorian London, have heard some cockney rhyming slang and be familiar with the famous red London buses. Perhaps you know all about the London Underground and pie and mash shops. You may even know that the East End of London was the home of Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man, Stalin and Gandhi for a while. This was also the site of the Sidney Street Siege and was a stamping ground for anarchists and bodysnatchers. In fact the East End of London has a history dating back to Roman times, and there are archaeological remains to prove it. But what exactly is a mudlark? All this and much much more is explained within these pages.