Arsenal History: George Swindin – Who won League titles in 3 different decades for the Gunners

George Swindin

George Swindin is one of Arsenals most famous managers and goalies in history during his two spells at the club from the mid 1930s to early 1950s before returning as gaffer by the end of the decade.

The man who was once chosen but not played in an England Schoolboy trial versus Wales in 1929 would end up making 297 league appearances in goal for The Gunners, without counting wartime matches during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945.

At Highbury during his playing days he recorded three league titles, one FA Cup and two Charity Shields.

However one of his most famous feats came as player and manager in the game, not at Arsenal, but at once non-league team Peterborough United. After only four years at the London Stadium in 1958 he secured a jaw dropping Midlands League Treble, setting the posh up for success where within two years of him leaving in 1960, they had transformed into a Football League club.

Eight years after dying of Alzheimer’s disease aged 90, Swindin was cemented into Peterborough United’s hall of fame in 2013 in recognition of all that he had achieved for the club over 50 years earlier.

After his fairytale story at Peterborough United, his old side Arsenal signed him as manager in 1958, however he would not fair for too long, where inside four years at N5 he was sacked for failing to win The Gunners any silverware. Despite starting off on a bright foot guiding Arsenal to third in his first campaign, the latter seasons resulted in no more than mid table finishes which simply put wasn’t g good enough. In 1962 chairman Dennis-Hill Wood tore his contract up!

Swindin originally ventured down from Bradford City to North London as a player in 1936 after being signed for £4,000 by then manager George Allison. Within a week he competed in his first game for Arsenal, however he came close to ruining his reputation early on after a few nervy and sporadic performances.

He would go onto make 17 appearances during the 1937/38 season watching The Gunners secure their fifth league title of the decade.

The Second World War would only stop Swindin’s career to a certain extent, he continued to serve Arsenal whilst being a PT in the Army.  Like many other footballers during wartime football he also made a great number of guess appearances for sides such as Leeds United, whilst being a policeman in the City at the time, Clapton Orient, and in the final year of the war in 1945 Southampton.

By the time football resumed after the war Swindin had stolen number one spot in Arsenal’s goalmouth where by this stage his nerves had settled and he’d transformed into an authoritative leading figure on the field. He was renowned for his great influence in the box for stopping aerial attacks swiftly, alongside his great physical prowess that came with it. Ten years after winning his first league title with the Gunners Swindin achieved his second in 1947/48 campaign.

In 1950 He won his one and only FA Cup medal when Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 with ease at Wembley, in front of 100,000 keen spectators.

Swindin lifted his third and final league championship with The Gunners in the 1952/53 season, however at this point age started to get in the way of his abilities, which had come a long way since joining Arsenal almost two decades previously. The title winning campaign also witnessed Jack Kelsey steal Swindin’s place in goal, and it was now time for the never to be capped Englishman to pull over.

He might’ve struggled as a manager at Arsenal however Swindin was certainly one of The Gunners finest goalkeepers from the mid 1930s to early 1950s in an impressive playing career at Highbury of 18 years, he is perhaps one of the most unluckiest players to never be capped for his country!

Liam Harding

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