Tribute to Arsenal Legend George Armstrong – Gone but never forgotten

WHERE ARE THEY NOW – GREAT PLAYERS WHO HAVE DEFINITELY “NOT” FADED AWAY:

GEORGE ARMSTRONG

POSITION: MIDFIELDER (AS QUOTED IN WIKIPEDIA)

BORN: 9TH AUGUST 1944

DIED: 1ST NOVEMBER 2000

What can I say about a player who The Arsenal were lucky enough to have enticed into the club?

“Geordie” was the complete player for me, he was a role model for any young aspiring footballer…which of course we all were!!!

He never stopped running, but it wasn’t the “headless chicken” type of running that seems to be demanded of players these days, it was clever, controlled and part of his absolute desire to contribute 100% to the team for the duration of the game.

It was an absolute privilege to pay my entrance fee and watch this man play, as he was someone who was way before his time – by that I have to travel back in time and explain why:

In the days of the 60’s and 70’s, teams were quite rigid in their set up i.e. a full back never ventured forward, a defensive player was defensive, and forwards never helped out the defence…. unless you were Geordie Armstrong of course!!

He would be back in defence one minute, racing down the wing the next and then swapping from left to right, whatever the situation required.

He was an absolute phenomenon to watch and, for those fans unfortunate enough not to have seen him, the only way to compare him to modern day Arsenal footballers is a cross between Marc Overmars, Gaul Clichy and The Romford Pele – he did everything these three players did and was as good, if not better, at it!!

Even after all these accolades, I feel that I haven’t given enough praise and/or described the man in enough detail – suffice it to say, apart from Dennis Bergkamp who was a master footballer, I would say that Geordie was THE most complete all round footballer I have ever seen in the famous red and white Arsenal shirt.

Let’s take a look at his stats while at The Arsenal:

Made his debut at the age of 17 in 1962.

Made 621 appearances for our club, before he left in 1977.

Played in both League cup final defeats 1967-68 and 1968-69.

Played in the incredible Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win 1969-70.

Played in the first ever Arsenal double winning side of 1970-71.
Arsenal Player of the Year 1970.

After Geordie retired from playing, he took to coaching and managing, including the Kuwaiti national team in 1988 and 1989.

He then returned home, both to England and his beloved Arsenal, as reserve team coach, a position he held until his untimely and totally unexpected death on the 31st October 2000.

It was at a training session he was taking that he collapsed from a brain haemorrhage and died early the next morning.

The Arsenal honoured his memory, by naming one of the training pitches at London Colney in his memory – I would love to see him honoured at our new ground in some way as this man is everything I believe our club stands for – The Greatest English Player Never to play for England!

Phil recently sent me a link that involved his daughter and her memories of this great man – Phil, if you read this, perhaps you could supply that again for any Arsenal fan who wants to read a more intimate view.

I certainly haven’t been able to give him a full appreciation, suffice it to say he would have graced the Invincibles, and walk into the present squad with no trouble whatsoever.

Thanks, Geordie – I still sing “Geordie Geordie Armstrong, Geordie Armstrong on the wing” – rest in peace.

Ken1945

Thanks to Wikipedia and Gary Lawrence (Highbury Heroes).

And here is a short video tribute to George Armstrong from “Arsenal Editor”

You can also follow his daughter Jill on this Twitter link, she posts some brilliant pics of her dad from the Good Old Days…

13 Comments

  1. jon fox says:

    ANOTHER BRILLIANT READ KEN! So true in all respects and the complete antidote in every possible way to the greed, selfishness and “me first” attitude of so many moral pygmies of today. An all time hero for you, for me and, I firmly believe, ALL who were privileged to see him play. That neither he nor Peter Simpson ever got full England caps is something of a sick joke and a scandal in many ways.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 England was the loser from its selection stupidities. I still can’t work out what the selection criteria was for an “England player”. As well as these two Arsenal greats, the neglect shown to Matt Le Tissier always amazes me!

  2. Robert Acedius says:

    7. George Armstrong 8. George Graham 9. John Radford 10. Ray Kennedy 11. Charlie George…
    1. Asn’l 42 29 7 6 71-29 65
    2. Leeds 42 27 10 5 72-30 64
    Asn’l vs Liverpool 2-1 (FA-Cup)
    George Armstrong was one of my first gunners.

  3. Grandad says:

    A great little player who was in many ways like George Best. Like Best he was two footed, a skill which is absent in so many so called “stars” today.Pepe for one comes to mind.As a Scotsman I and many of my pals could never understand why he was never capped by England. He was a great credit to his Club.Excellent stuff Ken.Something to make me smile during lockdown.

  4. Phil says:

    Ken- nothing for me to say other than great work. A TRUE LEGEND of a footballer.
    I will send you the link again for you to pass on to anyone who is interested, but that article typified Geordie, his family and just how tight that group of players were.

  5. John says:

    I’ve been a fan since 1960. There’ve been some truly great Gunners through the years, starting with Jack Kelsey and Geordie Armstrong had all the attributes of a winger plus the heart and determination of a midfielder. His work-rate was second-to-none, he was as quick and clever as Best but always fast – he’d have you on your feet bursting with pride to be a Gooner!

  6. ken1945 says:

    Pat, thanks for the “extras” added to this tribute and I really hope those of our fans who didn’t see the superb player in action, take the time to just watch him and also read, via his daughter, just what Geordy meant to the club and visa versa.

  7. Marty says:

    Great little player was Geordie, it was a privelege to see this unassuming man play, although he wasn’t recognised with an England cap, which was a travesty, all his teammates and supporters really appreciated ” wee Geordie “. Although not a prolific goalscorer he certainly made a lot of goals for Radford and the others.

  8. Peter Spencer says:

    Can’t agree more with any of that and Jon’s reply. When the young Geordie first broke into the team, many an opposing fullback would try to give him a warm if none too fond welcome. His skill and speed usually helped him avoid most of the rough stuff but our own fullback, Billy McCullough, took it upon himself to exact vengeance on behalf of Geordie whenever he saw it was needed. One of the funniest things I ever saw happened on one of these occasions. I can’t remember the opposition but their fullback was giving Geordie a particularly hard time, so Billy decided that lesson time had come. He joined an attack and managed to clatter into the offender in what appeared to be a hard but fair tackle. To make sure it looked that way, he fell to the deck in apparent pain too. Play then moved to the other end but I kept my eyes on Billy, fearing he’d been hurt. I saw him look up to check if the men in black (no teams wore black kit then) were otherwise preoccupied, roll over a couple of times from where he lay, thump the still prostrate offender hard in the wedding tackle, then roll back again! Priceless. Don’t know who else saw it and no TV coverage then, so Billy got away with it and I had to explain my loud laughter to my mates with me who’d missed what he did.

    1. jon fox says:

      Ah Peter! Dear old “Flint” McCullough, who unexpectedly tapped a very young me on the shoulder in the pitch and putt part of a local Southgate park one day and showed me how to properly hold the club. What a thrill and what a hard man on the field. People like Billy, Wee Geordie , Frank McLintock and that ilk were like a different species from the spoilt overgrown “boys” who play today. Most of them anyway.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Can’t agree more jon about the hardness of past players in a game in which many odern players would not survive.
        Geordie Armstrong was one of my favourite players of all time, of many from that first double winning side. It was a tragedy Geordie died at such a comparatively young age.

  9. snowden says:

    Not difficult to read the words.
    Difficult to hold back the emotions.

  10. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Another superb article from Ken1945 about one of our legends. To me George Armstrong was always there and what I mean by that is he debuted in 1962 when I was a young lad and still there winning doubles when I became a man. One of the best crosses of a football the game has ever seen. He could be in an impossible position, stuck in the corner with his back to the goal, then a little step over , creates a yard of space and suddenly whips the ball in with incredible precision. Like to add nice addition by Admin Pat, just a shame the wasn’t to much footage of his very early days but fully understand, it just wasn’t available in those days. I remember a game in 1964, an FA Cup replay against West Brom after we drew the first game 3-3 at the Hawthorns. Before a crowd of 60,000 on a freezing cold dry Tuesday night, George was up against West Brom’s England right back Don Howe and believe me as lots of Arsenal fans witnessed a few years later, Don took no prisoners but that night Geordie taunted Don turning him in and out countless times and was instrumental in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory. The first goal that night was always going to be important with both teams evenly matched, then all of a sudden a cross from the right wing the ball sailed over everybody to Geordie on the left corner of the penalty area and without hesitation hit a pile driver of a shot into the top right corner of the West Brom net. Highbury exploded, a goal to remember and one that’s stuck in my memory for the last 56 years. George (Geordie) Armstrong, greatest English player never to get a cap and Arsenal legend.

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