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George Hedley Swindin (4 December 1914 – 26 October 2005) was an English football player and manager.

George Swindin
Personal information
Full name George Hedley Swindin[1]
Date of birth (1914-12-04)4 December 1914[1]
Place of birth Campsall, Yorkshire, England
Date of death 26 October 2005(2005-10-26) (aged 90)[1]
Place of death Kettering,[1] Northamptonshire, England
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Rotherham YMCA
New Stubbin Colliery
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
193?–1934 Rotherham United 0 (0)
1934–1936 Bradford City 26 (0)
1936–1954 Arsenal 297 (0)
1954–1955 Peterborough United[2] 18 (0)
Teams managed
1954–1958 Peterborough United
1958–1962 Arsenal
1962 Norwich City
1962–1964 Cardiff City
1965 Kettering Town
1969–1970 Corby Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Playing as a goalkeeper, Swindin made more than 300 appearances in the Football League with Bradford City and Arsenal, where his 18-year career was interrupted by the Second World War. As manager, he led Peterborough United to three Midland League titles before spending a less successful spell with Arsenal. He also managed Norwich City and Cardiff City of the Football League and Kettering Town and Corby Town in non-league football.


Playing careerEdit

Swindin was born in Campsall in the West Riding of Yorkshire,[1] and attended South Grove Central School in Rotherham.[3] He played for England against The Rest as a final trial for a schoolboy international against Wales in 1929, but was not selected.[4] He played as an amateur for various local clubs,[5] including for Rotherham United's reserve team in the Midland League,[6] before turning professional in 1934 with Bradford City. Swindin established himself in the first team towards the end of the 1933–34 season, but a serious knee injury sustained in the last match of that campaign caused ongoing problems that disrupted his second season and eventually required surgery to remove cartilage.[7] He played 26 Second Division matches for Bradford City, before being signed by Arsenal in April 1936 for £4,000.[8]

He made his debut against Brentford on 3 September 1936, and played 19 games in his first season. 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.[9] However, he played 17 league matches in 1937–38, more than either of his rivals,[10] as Arsenal won the League title.[8]

The Second World War interrupted his career somewhat, 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,[11] Clapton Orient,[12] and in 1945, Southampton.[13]

By the time first-class football had resumed after the war, he became Arsenal's undisputed No. 1, and stayed there for the next few seasons.[9] He had put his erraticness behind him, and 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.[citation needed] He won his second League title in 1947–48. After the arrival of Ted Platt in 1950, Swindin had to share the goalkeeper's spot for 1949–50,[9] but played in both the 1950 and 1952 FA Cup Finals; Arsenal won the former against Liverpool, but lost to Newcastle United in the latter.[14]

By 1952–53, Swindin was beginning to show his age, and another talented keeper, the Welshman Jack Kelsey, had taken his first-team place. Nevertheless, Swindin played 14 matches that season as Arsenal won the title again, giving him his third Championship winner's medal. Despite his excellent form for Arsenal, he was never capped by England at senior level, with Walter Winterbottom preferring Frank Swift and Bert Williams. In all, he played 297 first-class matches (not including wartime games) for the Gunners.[9]

Management careerEdit

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.[15] Peterborough won the title twice more after Swindin left, enough to win election to the Football League in 1960.[14][16][17] His contribution was recognised by his induction into the club's Hall of Fame.[18]

In the meantime, Swindin had returned to Arsenal in 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.[14][19]

In March 1962, Arsenal chairman Denis Hill-Wood confirmed that Swindin's contract would not be renewed at the end of the season.[20][21] He then became manager of Norwich City for five months, and then Cardiff City from late 1962 to 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 and Corby Town before leaving the game for good.[19]

Final yearsEdit

After leaving football, Swindin first owned a garage in Corby, before emigrating to Spain,[5] where he lived for several years before returning to his homeland.[8] In the later years of his life he suffered from Alzheimer's disease.[14] He died at Kettering in October 2005 at the age of 90.[14]





Peterborough United[15]



  1. ^ a b c d e "George Swindin". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  2. ^ "George Swindin: Matches for Peterborough". Chris Wilkinson. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Schools football. Rotherham's chosen to meet Valley". Sheffield Independent. 27 September 1920. p. 10.
  4. ^ 'Admiral' (2 March 1929). "In the family". Star Green 'un. Sheffield. p. 6. Young Swindin, of Rotherham, who has been selected to keep goal for England against the Rest in the Schoolboys' International Trial Match next month, is another example of football running in the family, and in this case the strain is of particular interest because both the lad's father and his uncle were prominent goalkeepers in Rotherham football years ago.
    "Never a foul! Delightful display in England Schoolboys' trial". Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 8 April 1929. p. 8. Halsey, of Wandsworth, was a smart little custodian, but lacked the style of the Rotherham boy, Swindin, in the opposite goal.
    "To meet Wales". Athletic News. Manchester. 8 April 1929. p. 16. After the Trial match at Kettering on Saturday the following team was chosen to represent England against Wales in the Schoolboys' International game at Bournemouth on April 20:— Halsey (Wandsworth)
  5. ^ a b Glanville, Brian (31 October 2005). "George Swindin". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Enforced Rotherham changes". Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 30 January 1932. p. 12.
  7. ^ "Signed after match". Leeds Mercury. 15 April 1936. p. 9.
  8. ^ a b c d Attwood, Tony (14 April 2013). "George Swindin – one of Arsenal's great keepers". AISA Arsenal History Society. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Harris, Jeff (1995). Hogg, Tony (ed.). Arsenal Who's Who. London: Independent UK Sports. pp. 107–08. ISBN 978-1-899429-03-5.
  10. ^ "Arsenal football club players: League Division One 1938". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  11. ^ "The War Years: 1939–46". Leeds United F.C. History. Tony Hill. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  12. ^ Rollin, Jack (2005). Soccer at War 1939–45. London: Headline. p. 316. ISBN 978-0-7553-1431-7.
  13. ^ Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. p. 396. ISBN 0-9514862-3-3.
  14. ^ a b c d e "George Swindin". The Times. London. 31 October 2005. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.
  15. ^ a b Attwood, Tony (14 November 2011). "Into the darkness: Swindin leads us into the nine dead years of Arsenal". AISA Arsenal History Society. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  16. ^ Plummer, Russell. "History: Peterborough United On The FA Cup Trail – Part One". Peterbrough United F.C. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005.
  17. ^ "Peterborough United". Football Club History Database. Richard Rundle. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Jolly Jack enters Posh Hall of Fame". Peterborough Telegraph. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  19. ^ a b Ponting, Ivan (27 October 2005). "George Swindin". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  20. ^ Gray, David (14 March 1962). "Arsenal to replace Swindin". The Guardian. London. p. 11. Mr G. Swindin, who has been manager of Arsenal since 1958, is to leave his post at the end of the season. A statement issued on behalf of the board of directors yesterday said that Swindon's original contract already had been extended for one year and that they had decided not to continue it beyond the end of the current season.
  21. ^ Jones, Ken (14 March 1962). "Billy is Arsenal's Mr Right". Daily Mirror. London. p. 30. In a frank interview last night, Arsenal chairman Denis Hill-Wood told me: '... We understand each other, and he has agreed to carry on until the end of the season. I gave him the chance to get out at once if he wanted to. But he preferred to stay until we had sorted things out. There are no hard feelings between us.'
  22. ^ "Mercer leads Arsenal to FA Cup win". Arsenal F.C. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2017.