George Wilkinson (1879-1946), a prolific goal scorer with a variety of shots, is generally recognized as the world’s first great water polo player. In 1899 he was only playing in the Division III of the Manchester league, but the following year he was recruited by the famous Manchester Osborne Swim Club and they included him in their team for the Paris 1900 Olympics without even giving him a trial. After being on the winning Manchester team for the 1901 ASA championships, Wilkinson moved to Hyde Seal Swimming Club in 1902. He captained the Hyde team for 22 years, leading them to nine ASA titles and a victory over Brussels in the “World Championship” at Paris in 1904. Wilkinson won 3 Olympic gold medals, captained the winning team at the 1912 Olympics and was a reserve for the 1920 and 1924 Olympic teams. He won a total of 24 caps for England between 1900 and 1922, captaining the team on four occasions. Like a number of notable sportsmen of this time, he became a publican and was the landlord at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Hyde for many years.
Source: credit to Tameside Local Studies and Archives, http://www.tameside.gov.uk/