By Tony Attwood
George Hedley Swindin was both an Arsenal player and an Arsenal manager, playing almost 300 games for Arsenal, but proving to be a very poor manager, from whose tenure the club took years to recover.
He was born 4 December 1914, near Doncaster, and played as an amateur for Yorkshire clubs before turning professional in 1934 with Bradford City. Two years later he was signed by George Allison for Arsenal after playing just 26 games for Bradford C.
The fee was £4000, and his début game on 3 September 1936 and played 19 games that season. In fact Arsenal used three keepers that season. In the first game Alex Wilson (who had played 37 games the previous season) was in goal, but aside from that he made only one other appearance. Alex had been understudy to Frank Moss, and although he played 90 games for Arsenal was never seen as a permanent keeper for the club, so Swindon took over until he lost his place to Frank Boulton.
In 1937/8 Arsenal used all three keepers, but George Swindin played enough games to win a championship medal. However it was not until 1938/9 the Swindin was seen as the first choice keeper.
In the war he was a physical training instructor for the Army, playing war time games for Arsenal, and after the war he took over as the first choice keeper, playing for six more seasons, one under George Allison and then under Tom Whittaker, winning another championship medal in 1947/8.
He also played in the 1950 and 1952 cup finals, thus gaining a Cup Winner’s medal in 1950, but from 1953 onwards he was challenged for his position in goal by Jack Kelsey. But he still played enough in 1952/3 to get another championship medal.
In total, he played 297 games, plus a huge number of wartime matches and must be reckoned as one of Arsenal’s all time great keepers.
But after leaving Arsenal he became a manager, first with Peterborough United, for four seasons, then Arsenal for four, then a short period at Norwich, two years at Cardiff, a short spell at Kettering, and then rather amazingly a season at my local club, Corby Town.
He died in October 1965.
See also… Arsenal’s anniversaries.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
Other sites from the same team…