Gold medal awarded to former Chesterfield footballer who died after picking up 'bug' sells at auction for thousands of pounds

A gold medal awarded to a former Chesterfield footballer who lost his life a century ago after picking up a bug playing the game he loved has sold for thousands at auction.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 12:12 pm
Alistair Lofley holds Harry Thorpes medal.
Alistair Lofley holds Harry Thorpes medal.

The medal, awarded to Harry Thorpe in 1908, commemorated Leicester Fosse’s (Leicester City) promotion to Division 1 for the first time in their history.

But Thorpe never lived to celebrate the success with his team mates after going down with flu following a match against Glossop.

Illegal driver legs it from police in Chesterfield then falls down an embankment- and loses her shoesFull-back Thorpe was taken ill after the game in March 1908. He never recovered and died six months later in September, aged 28.

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The medal was presented to Harry Thorpe to commemorate Leicesters promotion to Division 1 in 1908.

The medal – and its story – sparked strong interest at Hansons Auctioneers’ Football in Focus Auction and a private UK bidder paid £4,000 to secure the object.

Much-loved Derbyshire man who died after falling from cliff edge to be remembered with cycle rideThorpe was born in 1880 in Barrow Hill, near Chesterfield. He made his Football League debut in the 1900-01 season with Chesterfield and made 64 league appearances for them over the next few seasons.

He later moved to Woolwich Arsenal and played for Fulham in the Southern League before returning to the Football League in 1907 with Leicester Fosse.

The owner of the medal, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The medal was given to Harry’s brother, Reginald, after his passing in 1908. It was then handed down through family descent. I’m proud to think that someone connected to my family was a talented footballer.”

Leicester City was founded in 1884 as Leicester Fosse because they played on a field by the Fosse Road. They moved to Filbert Street in 1891. In 1908, the club finished as Second Division runners-up and reached the First Division.

Mr Lofley said: “Thorpe played a key role in that promotion season but sadly never got to celebrate with his team mates. It makes you wonder what the conditions must have been like and how cold it was when he played that match against Glossop in 1908. He was a fit young man but antibiotics weren’t available back then to save his life.”

Leicester’s directors’ minutes book reveal that all players wore black armbands when Fosse played Preston on September 19, 1908 - three days after Harry’s death.

Alistair Lofley, sports valuer at Hansons, said: “It was a great result for an important piece of Leicester City history.”