George Armstrong (footballer)

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George Armstrong
George Armstrong (1967).png
Armstrong pictured in 1967
Personal information
Full name George Armstrong[1]
Date of birth (1944-08-09)9 August 1944[1]
Place of birth Hebburn, County Durham, England
Date of death 1 November 2000(2000-11-01) (aged 56)[1]
Place of death Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)[2]
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1977 Arsenal 500 (53)
1977–1978 Leicester City 15 (0)
1978–1979 Stockport County 34 (0)
Teams managed
Enderby Town
FK Mjølner
1988–1989 Kuwait
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

George "Geordie" Armstrong (9 August 1944 – 1 November 2000) was an English football player and coach, primarily associated with Arsenal. A winger, Armstrong made his Arsenal debut in 1962 at the age of 17 and made 621 appearances – which was then an all-time club record – before leaving in 1977. He spent a season each with Leicester City and Stockport County, and then took up coaching, both domestically and abroad. After a year as Kuwait national team manager, Armstrong returned Arsenal as reserve-team coach in 1990, a post he held for the remaining ten years of his life.

Life and career[edit]

Armstrong was born in Hebburn, County Durham.[1] After leaving school he took up an apprenticeship as an electrician and played in works football. He had an unsuccessful trial with Grimsby Town, and signed amateur forms for Newcastle United, before signing for Arsenal.[3]

He arrived as an inside forward but was soon switched to the wing.[4] He made his debut not long after joining the club; while still only 17, he started against Blackpool on 24 February 1962 in a match that Arsenal won 1–0.[5] Although he started out as understudy to Johnny MacLeod and Alan Skirton,[6] by the 1963–64 season he had become a regular in the side, and in 1964–65 he missed only two matches.[7]

Over his long career with the Gunners, Armstrong became one of Arsenal's most consistent players, who was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing;[2] he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right.[8] Signed by George Swindin but maturing under Billy Wright's management, he was one of a group of players from the Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright's successor Bertie Mee's Arsenal side, which ended the club's long trophy drought.[4][9]

After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967–68 and 1968–69, Armstrong helped the Gunners win the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970-71 League and FA Cup.[4][10] He was an ever-present in the double-winning team that season,[11] setting up a number of goals for his teammates,[2] which included teeing up Ray Kennedy's winning header against Tottenham Hotspur in the match that won Arsenal the League title.[12] He was also voted Arsenal's Player of the Year in 1970.[13]

Armstrong remained with the club through the 1970s, as Arsenal failed to win any further trophies after their Double win; he played at least thirty matches in each season he was at the club during that decade.[10] However, after falling out with Mee's successor, Terry Neill, he moved to Leicester City in September 1977 for £15,000. He played only 14 League matches in his single season with the Foxes, and finished his career with Stockport County before retiring in 1979.[1][4]

Having spent fifteen full seasons at Arsenal, most of them as an ever-present, Armstrong at the time held the club's all-time record for appearances – 621 competitive first-team appearances, including exactly 500 in the league; his record has since been overtaken only by David O'Leary and Tony Adams.[2] He also scored 68 goals for Arsenal.[2] Armstrong's Arsenal F.C. profile suggests he was "one of the most accomplished players never to have won a full cap" for England,[2] despite being capped at youth level and five times for theunder-23 team;[1] this was attributed to England manager Alf Ramsey's policy of not using wingers.[2]

After retiring from playing, Armstrong moved into coaching, and worked for a variety of clubs, including Fulham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Queens Park Rangers. He managed Enderby Town and Norwegian club FK Mjølner,[4] and was manager of the Kuwaiti national team between 1988 and 1989.[14] In 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England,[15] where he joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he retained for the rest of his life[16][17] despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent.[18] During his time at Arsenal Armstrong was responsible for bringing many young players through the ranks, including Steve Morrow, Ray Parlour and Paul Dickov.[16]

On 31 October 2000, Armstrong collapsed after a brain haemorrhage while at a club training session; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie,[16] and their two children, Jill and Tom.[19] A pitch at the Arsenal training ground, in London Colney, was named in his memory.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "George Armstrong". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "George Armstrong". Arsenal F.C. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Seager, Dave (2015). Geordie Armstrong on the Wing: Memories of George Armstrong – an Arsenal Legend. Legends Publishing. pp. 34–37. ISBN 978-1-906796-54-9. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Attwood, Tony. "George Armstrong: signed by Swindin but came good under Mee". AISA Arsenal History Society. Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  5. ^ "George Armstrong Arsenal FC". Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  6. ^ Seager, Dave. Geordie Armstrong on the Wing. p. 44. 
  7. ^ "All Arsenal football club players: 1964"  and "1965". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Seager, Dave. Geordie Armstrong on the Wing. p. 147. 
  9. ^ Attwood, Tony. "Bob Wilson, Billy Wright's problem and Bertie Mee's solution". AISA Arsenal History Society. Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "George Armstrong". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "All Arsenal football club players: 1971". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  12. ^ Eccleshare, Charlie (3 November 2016). "Arsenal's best ever north London derbies against Tottenham: ranked". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Seager, Dave. Geordie Armstrong on the Wing. p. 17. 
  14. ^ Mubarak, Hassanin (8 May 2014). "Kuwait national team coaches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Seager, Dave. Geordie Armstrong on the Wing. p. 201. 
  16. ^ a b c Glanville, Brian (2 November 2000). "George Armstrong". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  17. ^ Bateman, Cynthia (10 July 1990). "Edwards deal sets up United to go public". The Guardian. London. p. 16. Arsenal's manager George Graham has appointed George Armstrong, a colleague in the 1971 Double team, as reserve-team coach. 
  18. ^ Haylett, Trevor (22 February 1995). "Graham vows to contest his dismissal". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
    Collins, Roy (2 May 2004). "Arsenal solid on Rioch foundations". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
    Haylett, Trevor (13 September 1996). "Football: Red faces as Houston walks out". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  19. ^ Seager, Dave. Geordie Armstrong on the Wing. p. 23. 
  20. ^ Deeks, Jo (14 June 2001). "George is strip off old block". Retrieved 9 March 2017.