Cotton was born in Blackburn. He attended Blackburn Grammar
School and started work in the cotton trade in 1875. Lawrence
and his brother, Clement, later established their own company.
The business was a great success and in 1891 Lawrence Cotton
became a director of Blackburn Rovers. He became chairman of the
club in March 1905. Cotton's investment in the club enabled the
manager, Robert Middleton, to buy some great players.
Soon after Cotton became chairman, Middleton signed Welsh
international striker, Billy Davies from Wrexham. Ellis
Crompton, another young player with a reputation for scoring
goals, also joined the club.
Blackburn Rovers finished in 9th place in the 1905-06 season.
Adam Bowman was once again the club's top scorer with 15 goals.
His strike partner, Billy Davies, added 11 more. Robert
Middleton made several significant signings that year, including
Jack Martin, Edwin Latheron and Wattie Aitkenhead.
Lawrence Cotton helped to raise the money to improve the Elwood
Park ground. On 1st January, 1907, the recently constructed
Nuttell Street Stand was opened. It could accommodate 4,112
supporters seated in the upper tier, with room for a further
9,320 standing in front. A crowd of 35,000 watched Blackburn
draw 1-1 with Preston North End.
Blackburn Rovers finished in 12th place in the 1906-07 season.
They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Tottenham Hotspur but won
the Lancashire Cup when they beat Liverpool 3-0. Jack Martin
proved to be a great buy and ended up the club's leading scorer
with 17 goals.
1907-08 season was very disappointing. Blackburn Rovers was
knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round when they were
defeated by Second Division Leicester Fosse. They also had a
first round exit in the Lancashire Cup. Blackburn's league form
was little better and after a late rally they finished in 14th
place. Billy Davies, Edwin Latheron and Jack Martin, ended up as
joint top scorers with 9 goals each.
Blackburn's new signings failed to shine. The Blackburn Times
commented: "The second-rate players might advantageously be
reduced and the money thus saved be utilized in paying the
maximum wage to first-class men."
Robert Middleton appointed the former Preston North End star,
Bob Holmes, as trainer. This had a good impact on the team as
they obtain 4th place in the 1908-09 season. Billy Davies scored
19 goals in 27 league appearances. This included four goals
against both Bristol City and Everton. Ellis Crompton (10) and
Edwin Latheron (9) added to the impressive number of goals
scored that season. Blackburn also won the Lancashire Cup and
the East Lancashire Charity Cup that season.
Blackburn continued their good form the following season and by
October 1909 they became leaders of the First Division of the
Football League. They lost their position in January 1910 and
finally finished in 3rd place behind Aston Villa and Liverpool.
Blackburn's 45 points was the best total they had ever
accumulated in a season.
Blackburn's defense was outstanding that season. In goal was
England international Jimmy Ashcroft. Bob Crompton and Arthur
Cowell were a formidable full-back pairing. George Chapman
played at centre-half whereas Albert Walmsley and Billy Bradshaw
were the wing-halfs. An injury to Billy Davies caused the club
serious problems in front of goal. Wattie Aitkenhead was top
scorer with 14 goals and the consistent Edwin Latheron added 10
In 1911 Robert Middleton signed Jock Simpson from Falkirk for a
fee of £1,800. He joined a forward line that included at
different times in the season, Edwin Latheron, George Chapman,
Walter Anthony, and Wattie Aitkenhead. Middleton also signed Alf
Robinson to back up Jimmy Ashcroft. The defense looked very
strong with players like Bob Crompton, Arthur Cowell, Albert
Walmsley, Percy Smith and Billy Bradshaw in the side.
The 1911-12 season began badly with Blackburn Rovers losing two
of its first three games. Robert Middleton decided to move
George Chapman from centre-half to centre-forward. This was a
great success and Blackburn's form gradually improved and the
team went on an unbeaten run that lasted three months. This took
them to the top of the league.
Despite being defeated by Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal,
Blackburn went on another good run and by the end of the season
they had three more points than main challengers, Everton. It
was the first time in Blackburn's history that they had won the
Football League title. Top scorers were Wattie Aitkenhead (15)
and George Chapman (9). Jimmy Ashcroft and Alf Robinson played
well and Blackburn only conceded 43 league goals. Only Everton
let in fewer goals that season.
Lawrence Cotton's investment was beginning to pay dividends.
Blackburn Rovers started the 1912-13 season very well and were
undefeated until December. This was followed by five successive
defeats. In an attempt to regain the championship, Robert
Middleton broke the British transfer record by buying Danny Shea
from West Ham United for £2,000. Patsy Gallagher, described Shea
as "one of the greatest ball artists who has ever played for
England... his manipulation of the ball was bewildering."
Robert Middleton also purchased another forward, Joe Hodkinson
for £1,000. Shea scored 12 goals but it was not enough and
Blackburn finished 5th that season. Edwin Latheron (14), Wattie
Aitkenhead (13), George Chapman (10) were the club's other top
scorers. The defense played well and conceded only 43 goals
league goals. Only Manchester City had a better defensive record
In July 1913, Alec Bell, the Scottish international left-half,
joined Blackburn from Manchester United for £1,000. Bell was
recruited as cover for the half-back line of Albert Walmsley,
Percy Smith and Billy Bradshaw.
As well as buying the top players, Lawrence Cotton also invested
in ground improvements. He spent 7,000 on a new stand by the
River Darwen. This provided covered accommodation for some
In the 1913-14 season Blackburn Rovers once again won the league
title. Danny Shea was in great form scoring 27 goals. Edwin
Latheron also did well that season with 13 goals. Both men also
won international caps for England that season. They joined
other Blackburn players, Billy Bradshaw, Jock Simpson, Bob
Crompton and Joe Hodkinson in the England team. The defense also
performed well and only let in 42 league goals that season.
The following season Blackburn Rovers broke the transfer record
again when they bought Percy Dawson for £2,500 from Heart of
Midlothian. Blackburn Rovers scored 83 goals in 1914-15 season.
However, their defense was not as good and Blackburn finished
3rd behind the champions, Everton. Dawson was top scorer with 20
goals. He was followed by Edwin Latheron (17), Danny Shea (13),
George Chapman (9) and Wattie Aitkenhead (8).
Blackburn Rovers was one of the first clubs to suggest that the
Football League should be brought to a halt. Lawrence Cotton
stated that: "We shall pull through some way or other, and then,
after the war is over, we shall try to build up what we have
lost. But for the present the one thing, and the only thing, is
Lawrence Cotton became Mayor of Blackburn in 1917 and as a
result of "the increasing pressure of civic and other duties"
resigned as chairman of Blackburn Rovers on 19th February, 1919.
Lawrence Cotton died in May 1921.