Ted and George Robledo – who played for Chile at the 1950 World Cup – are to be remembered by a plaque erected at their old address in the mining village of West Melton, Rotherham, next year.
The plaque is to be unveiled on April 14, 2020, which would have been George’s birthday.
This special recognition is all thanks to the hard work of local former schoolteacher Chris Brook, who traced their uplifting story from South America to South Yorkshire and brought it back to life.
The story of Ted and George Robledo is a unique one. Their mother, Elsie Oliver, moved from South Yorkshire to Argentina shortly after World War I to work for a powerful Argentinian mining family. From there, the family moved to Chile, which is where Elsie met her husband, Aristides Robledo.
Elsie had three sons with Aristides; George, Ted and Walter. The Robledo family then decided to move back to England following political unrest in Chile but for reasons still unknown, Aristedes never travelled with the family back to England.
They returned to West Melton where Elsie lived with the boys above her Uncle Walter’s shop.
The boys attended Brampton Ellis Primary School, and it was there that George won a local tournament called the Totty Cup in 1939, in which he scored four goals in the final. The cup is held in the Don & Dearne region of South Yorkshire and includes schools from Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.
George Robledo also won the region’s senior knockout competition, the Montagu Cup, scoring the winner in the 1944 final.
Such scoring deeds caught the attention of Huddersfield Town, where George Robledo began his football career. He played part-time while earning money as a coal miner and never quite managed to break into the first-team.
His real breakthrough, however, came when he moved closer to home to play for Barnsley during World War II. It was there where his career took off as he scored 45 goals in 105 appearances.
This earned him a move to first division Newcastle United, signing for £26,500. George refused to move without his younger brother Ted – who was also playing for Barnsley – and he was also included in the deal.
The brothers won the FA Cup together with Newcastle in 1952, the same season George finished as Division 1 top scorer, becoming the first foreign player to do so.
They then returned to Chile to play for Colo-Colo, having represented Chile at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. George Robledo scored in his nation’s 5-2 win over the USA.
In 1970, Ted went missing from a ship sailing near Dubai and his body was never recovered. George moved back to Chile and became a PE teacher before dying of a heart attack in 1989.
Now Brook, a former schoolteacher who still helps organise the Totty Cup, has made an effort to try and get the Robledo brothers remembered in South Yorkshire. He put forward the idea of a blue plaque on the former home of the Robledo family in May. Initially he couldn’t find proof that the brothers actually lived at 97 Barnsley Road, as the 1931 census had been destroyed by fire and the 1941 census was not taken due to the war.
But he managed to track down a distant relative of the Robledo’s, Lucy Thorpe, whose father had kept the original contracts of Ted and George when they signed for Barnsley. These contracts had the confirmation that Chris was hoping for, their address at the time of signing, 97 Barnsley Road.
The property has now been converted into flats and Chris managed to gain permission from the owner for the plaque to be put up. Barnsley FC have agreed to pay the £350 fee for the plaque and it is due to be unveiled on the April 14, 2020, George’s birthday.
Brook set about contact members of the Robledo family to inform them about the plaque. George’s daughter Elizabeth is hoping to travel over from Chile for the unveiling, while their brother Walter is travelling up from Surrey for an event that marks a unique moment in time for a junior school competition in South Yorkshire.