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Gus Manning - German and US Soccer Star's family grave found in Ladywell cemetery

Dr 'Gus' Manning

Finding the graves of long lost luminaries buried in Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries has kept me busily engaged over periods of enforced Covid lockdown when headstone searches have not always been possible. But as all cemetery burials are now digitised (1858-1999) and available to view via the Deceasedonline.com website (there is a small fee for accessing actual burial documents) I have been keenly collating a wishlist of lost cemetery lives, particularly those of more enduring historic merit, deserving of greater public attention, with a view to publishing a short book, teasingly entitled 'Lockdown Luminaries'-

Of course, some of those interred in the cemeteries have more famous offspring who are buried elsewhere. One such individual was Lewisham born Gustav Randolp Manning ( b.1873) He was one of four sons of Wolfgang Gustav Mannheimer, a Jewish merchant originally from K√∂nigsberg in East Prussia.  Gustav sold his company (the family address was High road, Lewisham) in the early 1880s and moved to Berlin, having anglicized the family name to 'Manning'. In Berlin, he joined the Berlin Cricket Club, at the time cricket and football were played with equal enthusiasm and Gustav played football in various Berlin clubs as a striker, including from 1893 for VfB Pankow, where he made friends with a teammate called Franz John who founded a club called Bayern Munich!

Meanwhile, he had qualified as a doctor in 1898 and worked at a clinic in Strasbourg. Despite his British passport, he became the first secretary of the DFB (German Football Association in 1900) and was responsible for drafting the association's statutes based on the English model. He emigrated to the USA and anglicised his name even further as Dr G (or Gus) Randolph Manning. He continued to be heavily involved in soccer and in 1913 he was the driving force behind the foundation of the United States Football Association and was elected its first president. He also developed his medical career and was an eminent gastroenterologist in New York, while serving in the US Army reserves as Colonel.

His commitment to football remained undimmed and in 1948, he was the first American to be elected to the FIFA Executive Committee. He attended the 1950 FIFA Congress, and died in 1953. Gustav Manning is buried in Arlington National Cemetery (United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia,  which lies across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in whose 639 acres the dead from all US conflicts, beginning with the American Civil War are buried). Gustav was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame in 1950.

Gustav Manning (Front row, 2nd from right) with Frieburg FC c.1898.

Sport Historian Dr. Kevin Tallec Marston's 2018 lecture on Gustav Manning, G. Randolph Manning, US Soccer’s 1st President, is available to view on You Tube

One of Gustav's brothers Phillip Manning (1869-1951) became a successful actor in the German cinema.

Phillip Manning (1869-1951)

Phillip was educated in Germany and on stage from 1896 and was noted as a prolific interpreter of roles by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Schiller and Goethe on the stages of Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin. He appeared in German films of the 1920's and 30's, latterly often used for Nazi propaganda purposes and as adviser on English language versions of German films. He was also often associated with the films of Harry Piel (who acted with Marlene Dietrich).

Intriguingly a third brother, Frederick J. Manning, was interned at Ruhleben prison camp (nr, Berlin, Germany) during World War One. Inline image

The remarkable story of the prisoners survival and escape  'The Ruhleben Football Association' was the subject of Paul Brown's best selling 2020 book.


Fred. Manning (Barrack 10 Ruhleben) was the editor of the first German lawn tennis and golfing journal. His name appeared in a 1894 directory for Lewisham as "Manning, Fredk. J, 34 Wisteria Road, Lewisham.

Their mother, Ulrike Christina Mannheimer (d.1883) is buried in Ladywell cemetery.


Article by Mike Guilfoyle -Vice-Chair : Friends of Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries.