George Haigh

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George Haigh
Personal information
Full name George Haigh
Date of birth (1915-06-26) 26 June 1915 (age 103)[1]
Place of birth Reddish, England[1]
Playing position Centre-back
Youth career
Manchester City
1936–1938 Stockport County
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1938–1942 Stockport County
1942–1945 Rochdale
1945–1946 Lancaster City
Teams managed
Rossendale United

Military career
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1940-1945
Rank Squadron Leader
Battles/wars Second World War
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

George Haigh (born 26 June 1915) is an English former professional footballer, mainly known for his association with Stockport County. At the age of 103, he is the oldest surviving former County player,[2] and has been widely attributed to being the oldest surviving former professional footballer,[3] although Arthur Smith is one month older.

Career[edit]

Haigh's career started at Manchester City, as a junior. He played in the reserves alongside Frank Swift, but when Swift was promoted to the senior side, Haigh stayed where he was.[4] In 1936, he joined Stockport County, where he played at all levels for County, from the A team right up to the first team.[5] Haigh had the misfortune to score an own goal on his debut for County, and made a second league appearance before the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1940, he enlisted in the Royal Air Force, serving as a physical training instructor and was stationed at RAF Morecambe and RAF Wilmslow, where he trained new recruits and parachutists.[1] He reached the rank of flight sergeant before being commissioned an acting pilot officer (on probation) on 20 June 1941,[6] and was regraded as a pilot officer (on probation) on 20 August.[7] Whilst at Morecambe, he played for the services team, and in 1942, joined Rochdale. Rochdale often played Blackpool, and Haigh was usually tasked to mark Stanley Matthews.[4] During wartime, he also made guest appearances for Walsall and Burnley.[5] On 20 June 1942, Haigh was confirmed in the rank of pilot officer, and was promoted to flying officer (war-substantive) on 20 August.[8] He was promoted to flight lieutenant (war-substantive) on 11 September 1944,[9] and was mentioned in despatches in 1945, ending his service with the rank of squadron leader.[10]

In 1945, he was offered the player-manager position at Arbroath, but Haigh decided to join Lancaster City as they had offered him a trade as a metal spinner, as well as the captaincy of the team. Haigh was discharged as a sergeant in 1946, and later managed Rossendale United.[1]

In 1998, County's club historians got back in touch with Haigh (and even then he was considered one of the oldest surviving former professional footballers). Since then, he has maintained regular contact with the club, appearing as a guest of honour in 2008, and in 2010, was one of the first recipients of a Stockport County Appearance Number certificate. He has continued to watch County home and away.[5] Haigh has age-related macular degeneration and, as of 2014, receives support from Blind Veterans UK,[11] the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, having served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Stockport County legend turns 100". PFA.com. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "County Legend George Haigh at Brackley tomorrow". Stockport County F.C. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "George Haigh - The Oldest Surviving Professional Footballer In the World". Stockport County F.C. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "George Haigh: "I asked Stanley Matthews, 'How the hell do you do it?'"". Daily Mirror. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "Legend George Haigh returns to Edgeley Park". Stockport County F.C. 10 September 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  6. ^ "No. 35217". The London Gazette. 11 July 1941. p. 4002. 
  7. ^ "No. 35254". The London Gazette. 22 August 1941. p. 4878. 
  8. ^ "No. 35717". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 September 1942. p. 4169. 
  9. ^ "No. 36819". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 November 1944. p. 5511. 
  10. ^ "No. 37119". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 1945. p. 2992. 
  11. ^ "Home". www.blindveterans.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-10-10.