George Henry Armitage
Date of Birth:
17 Jan 1898
Place of Birth:
Stoke Newington, London
Date of Death:
28 August 1936
Place of Death:
(1919/20 - 1923/24)
George Henry Armitage was born in Stoke Newington on Monday 17 Jan 1898, the youngest of seven children for father Robert, a milk carrier and mother Ellen. Two days earlier Wimbledon Old Centrals had drawn 2-2 at local rivals Merton Manor in a Clapham League encounter.
He was brought up at 70 Shakespeare Road, Stoke Newington and educated at Wordsworth Road School, Hackney. His father spent time in jail for watering down the milk and committed suicide in 1910 by drinking poison.
The young "Tishy", as he was known, was soon gaining recognition, representing Hackney Schools in 1912/13.
After his mother passed away in 1913 he moved in with his sister Emma and her husband, also George, in Isleworth. He joined the Chelsea based junior church team, St. Saviours, and the following year added almost two years to his age and joined the Territorial Army. When conscription began in 1916 he was sent to France, where his brother Robert, had already been killed earlier in the year, then onto Salonika, Greece. After transfers to the Durham Light Infantry in June 1917 and the Labour Corps in February 1918 he was promoted to Corporal before being discharged through ill-health - apparently tuberculosis - in April 1919. He was awarded the Silver War Badge and the British War and Victory medals.
Returning to Isleworth and a job as a railway audit clerk at the same time as Wimbledon restarted after the Great War, he took part in a trial game at Plough Lane on 23 August 1919 and his potential was immediately spotted, Athenian League forms offered and signed, and he was leading the team from centre-forward the following Saturday. Playing regularly, Armitage was soon amongst the goals, including hat-tricks against Pearl Assurance in the F.A. Cup in September and Tooting Town in the Amateur Cup in December and four in an Amateur Cup tie against works team Adam Grimaldi in November. He finished his first season in senior football with 20 or so goals, a fine return for the youngster.
Finding himself more suited to the centre-half position, Armitage helped Wimbledon to the runners-up position in the Athenian League the following season and continued to play regularly for the Dons in their first two Isthmian League campaigns, pulling on the shirt aroung 150 times and representing Surrey, London and an F.A. XI. After taking part in the London F.A. tour of Sweden in July 1923 he signed for Charlton Athletic.
George made his debut in the Charlton first team on 15 March 1924, away to Brighton in a Division Three South fixture and was regularly selected until the end of the 1929/30 season, making his final appearance on 30 April 1930 in the Second Division game at home to Swansea.
After a successful performance in the Amateurs versus Professionals trial game at White Hart Lane on 05 October 1925 he was selected for the full England team and played in the 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park on 24 October 1925, becoming the first former Don to appear in a full international, a feat not matched until Johnny Haynes pulled on an England shirt whilst with Fulham in 1954.
He married Elsie in Lambeth the following year and took up residence in Beckenham, then captained Charlton to the Division Three South championship in 1928/29.
He also took part in the F.A. tour of South Africa in 1929, playing in 5 of the matches.
After making 165 League and 17 F.A. Cup appearances for Charlton, scoring four goals, he joined the Athenian League side Leyton in January 1931 and retired from football soon after.
In 1936, after recurrence of tuberculosis, George was admitted to Preston Hall Sanatorium near Maidstone. On 28 August 1936, aged just 38, he asked to be discharged - against the wishes of the staff - and, suffering from anxiety and upset brought on by the illness, he committed suicide by diving in front of a train in nearby Allington. The inquest in Aylesford revealed that the illness was nowhere near as bad as he thought and he was making a good recovery. A verdict of Suicide while of Unsound Mind was recorded.
A benefit match was held between Leyton and an Amateur International XI on 24 September 1936 and the programme contained several quotes from the national newspapers, including;
"George Armitage will always be remembered as one of our great sportsmen. His remarkable ability as a footballer was there for all to see, but off the field as on, he scrupulously maintained the highest standards and truest traditions of British sportsmanship."
Years Team Apps (Gls)
- St Saviour's ? (?)
1919-1923 Wimbledon ? (?)
1923-1929 Charlton Athletic 165 (4)
1931-1933? Leyton ? (?)
1924 England 1 (0)
1919/20: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
1920/21: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
1921/22: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
1922/23: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
1923/24: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
- Total: Appearances: 0 - Substitute: 0 - Goals: 0
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