Geordie Armstrong on the Wing
Memories of George Armstrong An Arsenal Legend.
Published by Legends Publishing
I was given a pre-publication copy of this book by Dave Lane, the publisher of this tome and the man behind Legends Publishing , and after reading a few pages decided to write a review.
I can justifiably say I am honoured to be one of the first people to read it, as it is an essential read bringing into sharp focus just what a great player and man Geordie was.
It is a life affirming joy to dip in and read the torrent of admiring quotes about a chap who absolutely no-one had a bad word to say about.
This quote from Frank McLintock at the time of his passing sums it up:
“The world has lost a diamond of a fellow. This has shattered me because I honestly do not remember George having a days illness all the time I knew him. If he ever had to miss an Arsenal game through injury he was absolutely heartbroken. He lived for the game, but was a great family man as well.”
By no means a conventional biography, the author uses the clever method of interviews with family, players (both team mates and opponents), managers, journalists and fans to come up with a composite picture of Geordie.
Of particular interest are the recollections of those who won the Double and Fairs Cup with him, and the youngsters who he later mentored at the club. Equally the older fans’ views are revealing and insightful.
There are themes running throughout the book, irrespective of which section they emanate from, which show Geordie:
- As a man: an unassuming modest great bloke who, despite not being an epic drinker, would ALWAYS be the first to buy a round at the bar
- The family: his obvious love for and from his family shines through.
- As a great winger: I lost count of those who commented on his unbelievable ability to cross the ball into the centre, for first Radford or Kennedy to head in, or his uncanny ability to cross a ball at will where required.
- As a player: his unstinting stamina and amazing engine, in being able to run and run for the full 90 minutes week in, week out. Being the man of the match in the 1970 Fairs Cup final. Being an ever present in the Double season. His battles with the hard men of football such as Ron “Chopper” Harris on mud bath pitches.
- England: the utterly ludicrous and almost criminal neglect of his talent at the highest level in never being selected for England.
The pictures, many from the Armstrong family archives, are wonderful. I especially enjoyed the one of Geordie looking almost embarrassed to be the owner of a Jaguar. There is another fantastic “of this moment” of Geordie sharing a laugh with Pat Rice next to a smiling Tony Adams, with his arm around the coach.
I am not an emotional person, but will defy anyone to not be moved by the description of his death and funeral.
I never saw Geordie in an Arsenal shirt as my first game at Highbury came in 1978, but I did see him right at the end of his career on the wing for Trowbridge versus Bromley at Hayes Lane in 1982-3. I remember it made my dad’s day to see him. In keeping with this well-researched book his time at Trowbridge is mentioned, especially the way it came about as a favour to Alan Birchenall.
The intention was to produce a fitting tribute to the man. In testament to Dave Seager this manages to do exactly what Jill and Marj asked him to do, and Jill makes note of this in the foreword saying: “The way in which he has captured the pure essence of my father is incredible”.
I can’t state how much of a must this is for any Arsenal fan, and not just those lucky ones who regularly watched him dashing down the wing at Highbury.
There is a launch event at The Tollington arranged by the Armstrong family, Dave and Dave on 18th October, prior to the Hull match. Three former captains, all who contribute to the book – Frank McLintock, Pat Rice and Eddie Kelly – are all scheduled to be there signing copies.
Dave will be in the Tollington again on the evening of the 22nd October for anyone who is watching Anderlecht away in there.
1st November: Dave will be in the Arsenal Supporters Club in St Thomas Road before and after the Burnley match. Between 12.30 and 1.30 he will be joined by Gunners legend, and friend to Geordie, Liam Brady.
4th November: Before Anderlecht at home Dave will be back in The Tollington and joined by 1990/91 title winner Dave Hillier, one of the first to graduate to the first team from Geordie’s reserves. Dave will be with Dave from 5-6pm.
9th November: Dave and Eddie Kelly will be guests of Dublin Arsenal at the Mercantile in Dublin before the Swansea away game on Sky. The Supporters Club will also have the replica FA Cup there that day.
20th November: There is an AISA Geordie themed evening event at the Emirates with guests as yet to be confirmed.
22nd November: Prior to the Manchester United home game, Dave and the Armstrong family will be at Piebury Corner with guests as yet to be confirmed.
Please click on to Legends publishing who are selling the book, if you can’t get to any of the events above.
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