El Centrocampista

BARÇA’S SCOTTISH HERO – The forgotten story of George Pattullo

In the build up to their 2008 Uefa Champions League clash against Glasgow Celtic at Camp Nou, the official club website of FC Barcelona published an article detailing the careers of ten Scottish footballers who had played for the Catalan giants during their 109 year history.

Top of that list, and Barcelona’s last Scottish import, was Steve Archibald, the hugely talented Glaswegian who joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 1984. Archibald spent four productive seasons in the Catalan capital, scoring a respectable 25 goals in 55 games, before eventually moving back to England in 1987 for a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers.

You have to go back more than a century to find the next Scot to have played for Barcelona however, and while little known today, he proved to be one of Spanish football’s first great goal scorers.

His name was George Pattullo and he starred up front for Barça at the turn of the second decade of the twentieth century. Furthermore, Pattullo, who also won a Military Cross during the First World War, is statistically the most effective British football export of all-time.

Shrouded in mystery, Pattullo’s story was only recently unearthed after research by journalists Alan Pattullo and Gavin Jamieson, who subsequently wrote an article published in The Scotsman in 2011.

Pattullo first arrived in Catalunya during the first years of the 1900s and began playing for a local team of ex-pats in his spare-time. It was during a game for this ad-hoc team, ironically as a goalkeeper, that he first came to the attention of the fledging Futbol Club Barcelona. Down 5-1 at half-time, Pattullo was thrown upfront and was the catalyst for an amazing comeback that saw his side finish with a 6-5 triumph.

What adds to the Glasgow-born player’s fascinating story is the fact he was a committed amateur and refused to acknowledge that somebody should receive financial reward for playing the sport – a belief which put him firmly at odds with many of his British colleagues who were being paid to turn out for one of Barcelona’s other clubs, Espanyol. One anecdote even claims Pattullo used to refund hotel and travel expenses to the the club when traveling back to Britain. How times change.

It was during the season of 1910/11 that Pattullo wrote his name in the history books, scoring a phenomenal 41 goals in just 20 games, a feat which led to the Scot being heralded as the greatest player of his generation. He returned to Scotland the following year however, and resumed a previous career in the country’s tough coal trade.

This was obviously seen as a great loss for Barcelona and the local sports paper, el Mundo Deportivo lamented ‘Barça have lost a priceless player, its fans an idol, and our goalkeepers will be more relaxed to have him far away, that most feared of strikers. Hip hip hooray for Patullo.’

Seemingly lost to the Spanish game, Pattullo made a dramatic return in 1912 when he played for Barça in a 3-2 victory over city rivals Espanyol – a game that apparently cemented his fame in the region.

War broke out soon after and Pattullo served on the Western Front with the Tyneside Scottish, earning the country’s second-highest award for bravery, the Military Cross, during the Battle of the Somme. He returning home at the end of hostilities in 1918.

In 1928 Pattullo was invited back to Barcelona and was guest of honour at Les Corts to kick-off a league game between Barça and Real Oviedo, playing in the city one last time shortly after before returning to Britain.

Pattullo later tried his hand at management and had a brief spell at Mallorcan side Club Baleares before finally settling in London where it is claimed he struggled with alcoholism. The Scot’s achievements were soon forgotten, and by the end of the 1940’s he was barely mentioned in the club’s official history. When he was, he was mistakenly referred to as ‘John’. Pattullo died in 1953 aged 64 and went unmentioned until his story was re-discovered in 2011.

It seems strange to think that a player of such obvious talent went almost unknown in the history of this glorious club, and also a tragic quirk of fate that his name has not been mentioned among the greats of Scottish football. Thankfully this is now being addressed and George Pattullo can finally be remembered for what he was; a decorated war hero, a custodian of the amateur game and ultimately, a supremely talented footballer.


  1. Vidmar20

    12 November, 2011 at 13:28

    Interesting! Any reason why he carried the decidedly un-Scottish name Pattullo?

    • Steve

      13 November, 2011 at 03:16

      It’s an old Scottish name. He carried it because he was Scottish.

      • Vidmar20

        15 November, 2011 at 06:09

        Haha thankyou for the tart reply! It looked more Latin to me, you learn something every day.

  2. Iain McMullen

    13 November, 2011 at 09:12

    Taken from the Internet Surname Database:


    This ancient Scottish name is locational in origin, deriving from either of two places named Pittilloch, one near Freuchie in Fife and the other in Glenfarg, Perthshire. Both places are named with the ancient Pictish (pre 5th Century) element “peit”, portion of land, with the Gaelic term “tulach”, hill. The surname is well recorded in Scotland from the 13th Century on, most early forms remaining close to the placename; the Ade de Petillok recorded below appears as an assizer at Perth in 1305 as Adam de Pethilloch. One Robert Pittilloch, a Dundee man, raised recruits for the French service in the neighbourhood of Dundee in 1423 – 1424. He accompanied them to France, and was made a commander in the French service, later being created lord of Sauveterre, and known as “le petit roi de Gascoyne”. As Robert Petillo he was one of King James 11 of Scotland’s ambassadors. The modern surname can be found as Pat(t)ullo and Pat(t)illo. The marriage of John Pattullo and Janet Halket was recorded in Edinburgh on June 13th 1773. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ade de Petillok, which was dated 1295, Register of the Monastery of Cambuskenneth, during the reign of John Balliol, King of Scotland, 1292 – 1296. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

    Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Pattullo#ixzz1dZi0qjoP

    • Carlos Ward

      14 November, 2011 at 00:08

      As a Culé and someone with a Scottish grandfather I am doubly happy to learn about George; who, by the way, is my son’s name!

      Great comment on the surname, although prima facie it does not strike as sounding very Scottish; it just goes to show how little is known about these great people outside Britain.

  3. Gothenburg83

    15 November, 2011 at 14:12

    The story of George ‘Jorge’ Pattullo is an extraordinary one. Hopefully he will be fully recognised by FC Barcelona as a legendary blaugrana player and the first of their footballing idols, predating the likes of Alcantara, Samitier, Cruyff and Messi.

    The link to the full article as published in The Scotsman is:

    • Iain McMullen

      17 November, 2011 at 12:20

      Once again Jamie, thanks for uncovering this amazing story – as you say, hopefully he can now be recognised by the club for the playing his part in their glorious history.

      He certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the names above.

  4. parc rosewood

    15 January, 2012 at 17:23

    I’m extremely impressed along with your writing abilities and also with the structure in your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Anyway stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a nice blog like this one these days..

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