Swindin George Image 3 Arsenal 1948

Swindin George Image 3 Arsenal 1948


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Campsall, Yorkshire born goalkeeper George Swindon had been a noted schoolboy footballer and played for England against The Rest as a final trial for a schoolboy international against Wales in 1929, but was not selected. He began his football career with Rotherham YMCA in 1930 and played for New Stubbin Colliery in 1931, before spending much of 1932-33 on the books of Rotherham United, for whom he didn’t make a first team appearance. In February 1933 he turned professional with Bradford City, and made his Football League debut against Port Vale on Boxing Day 1934. While understudy to Sam Warhurst, he made 18 appearances in 1934-35, and due to a knee injury only played a further 11 games in 1935-36 before being signed by Arsenal in April 1936 for £4,000.

He made his debut against Brentford on 3rd September 1936, and played 20 games in his first season including the Charity Shield defeat to Sunderland in October 1936. His time at Arsenal was at first characterised by nervous and erratic displays, and he shared the goalkeeping spot with Alex Wilson and Frank Boulton. He played 18 games in 1937-38, more than either of his rivals, as Arsenal won the League Championship, and half of the games in 1938-39. However the Second World War then significantly interrupted his career, but Swindin continued to play through the War for Arsenal, while serving as a Physical Training Instructor in the Army. He made wartime guest appearances for clubs including Leeds United, while serving as a policeman in the area, Clapton Orient, and in 1945, Southampton.

By the time peacetime football had resumed after the War, he became Arsenal’s undisputed No. 1, and stayed there for the next six seasons. He was a commanding keeper who was especially known for his aerial ability and assured handling of crosses, as well as his strong physical resilience. He won his second League Championship in 1947-48 when an ever present for The Gunners. After the arrival of Ted Platt in 1950, Swindin had to share the goalkeeper’s spot for 1949-50, but played in both the 1950 and 1952 FA Cup Finals. Arsenal won the former 2-0 against Liverpool, but lost 1-0 to Newcastle United in the latter, after a season in which Swindin was once again an ever present.

By September 1952, Swindin lost his place to another talented keeper, the Welshman Jack Kelsey. Nevertheless, Swindin played 14 matches that season as Arsenal won the title again, giving him his third Championship winner’s medal, making his final two appearances in September 1953. In all, he played 297 appearances (not including wartime games) for the Gunners. Despite his excellent form for Arsenal, he was never capped by England at senior level, with Walter Winterbottom preferring Frank Swift and Bert Williams.

Swindin moved to Midland League side Peterborough United as player-manager in 1954. He led them to three consecutive Midland League titles, from 1955-56 to 1957-58, and reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 1956-57. Peterborough won the title twice more after Swindin left, enough to win election to the Football League in 1960. His contribution was recognised by his induction into the club’s Hall of Fame.

In the meantime, Swindin had returned to Arsenal in June 1958 as manager, and his side initially started strongly, finishing third in 1958-59. However, the team soon flagged and spent the next three seasons in mid-table. Despite signing players such as George Eastham and Tommy Docherty, Swindin was unable to bring any silverware to the club, while the club’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur won the Double in 1960-61.

In March 1962, Arsenal chairman Denis Hill-Wood confirmed that Swindin’s contract would not be renewed at the end of the season. He then became manager of Norwich City for five months from May to November 1962, and then Cardiff City from November 1962 to April 1964. At Cardiff, he signed John Charles from Roma, but after a bright start Cardiff soon faded and he resigned after the team were relegated to the Second Division. After that, he had spells as manager of Kettering Town in 1965 and Corby Town from 1969 to 1970.

NB in the photograph taken at Highbury on 3rd January 1948 he claims the ball under challenge from Sheffield United winger Colin Collindridge. Arsenal won the game 3-2.

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