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Football stars pay tribute to a hero

By Jo Deeks on Thursday, 2nd May 2002.

A toddler took the spotlight in front of a host of football stars at an event to honour his famous grandad.

George Armstrong is not yet two and too young to know that his late grandfather was one of Arsenal’s top stars of the 1960s and ‘70s and later reserve team manager.

On Sunday, George senior’s contribution of over 40 years to the Gunners was recognised when the main pitch at the club’s London Colney training ground was officially named the George Armstrong Memorial Pitch.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood unveiled a marble memorial stone at the corner of the pitch, watched by current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, most of the
current first team and a host of stars from the 1970s team.

Baby George’s dad Tom Armstrong. who lives in Haverhill and works at the Leisure Centre, attended with his mother Marj and sister Jill, who live in Abington.

Also present were Tom’s partner Sue and her children Wayne, Sian and Josh.
Tom and Jill were presented with replicas of their father’s Arsenal shirt, signed by the current team on one side and the 1970s double winning side on the other.

George Armstrong was only 56 when he died suddenly in the autumn of 2000, collapsing after training with the Arsenal team.

Tom said his father’s death had been a great shock to the family but they were very proud of the tribute paid to him by the club.

“It is important from my point of view for George, who never met my dad.

“It will be nice for him to go there and see what he did. I hope he will be playing for Arsenal one day, he can already kick a ball with both feet.

“It is a great honour for my dad to have the pitch named after him. It means he will
always be in the history of the club and not forgotten.

“It was a big shock when dad died. He was still training with the first team at 56 years of age.

“He used to come and play five-a-side for me at the centre in Haverhill and he used to run rings round them all.

“A lot of people didn’t know who he was, he always kept in the background,” Tom said.

Television pundit Bob Wilson urged the current Arsenal team, poised for a possible league and cup double this season, to “go out and win it for Geordie”.

“He was the most loyal, generous and kind person.

“He is very much missed at Arsenal and he will never be forgotten,” he said.

Ex-Arsenal player Liam Brady paid tribute to his boundless energy and great generosity to all those around him.

A galaxy of Arsenal stars past and present turned out for the unveiling of the memorial.

His former team mates present included George Graham, John Radford, Bob
McNab, Peter Simpson, Pat Rice and Frank McLintock.

Current Arsenal players included Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams, David Seaman and Martin Keown.

George Armstrong joined Arsenal as a player in 1961 and was part of the Fairs Cup-winning side of 1970 and the doublewinning side of 1971.

He played 621 matches, scoring 70 goals, with only Tony Adams and David O’Leary having played more.

CAPTION: Remembering … Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) with George Armstrong’s son Tom, grandson George, daughter Jill and his widow Marj at the memorial.

Haverhill Weekly News

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