George Wood; understudy to Jennings 1980/3

George Wood was born 26 September 1952 in Douglas in Lanarkshire and played as a goal keeper for Arsenal between 1980 and 1983.

The story is that at Lanark Grammar he was an outfield player but his PE teacher converted him to goalkeeping duties.  He went on to play junior (ie non-league – the use of the word “junior” has a different meaning in Scottish football from that in England) for Lanark United and Forth Wanderers before joining East Stirlingshire.

East Stirlingshire play in Falkirk, and it was there that George Wood is recorded as having scored a goal.  Reports say he kicked the ball out from his own penalty area in a game against Queen of the South on 9 January 1971 and it went into the net at the other end.

Curiously Pat Jennings, the keeper that George Wood came to Arsenal to replace had also scored direct from his own area, for Tottenham, four years earlier in 1967.

After that George Wood moved to Blackpool, before joining Everton on 18 August 1977, getting his first cap for Scotland against N Ireland on 22 May 1979.

He was signed by Arsenal on 14 August 1980 for £140,000 as an understudy and eventual successor to Pat Jennings.  However Pat Jennings showed remarkable tenacity in holding his position, playing for Arsenal until he was 40 years old in 1985. Woods got a free transfer to Crystal Palace in May 1983.

Woods moved on to Crystal Palace and played 192 times for them before joining Cardiff, followed by a loan at Blackpool and then time with Hereford, Merthyr and on 1 July 1992, Inter Cardiff.

Inter Cardiff deserve a particular mention here as in over 1000 articles on this site I think we have mentioned a fair number of teams that Arsenal players have played at, but never Inter Cardiff.

Here’s how it goes.  In the 1980s Lake United became AFC Cardiff and then merged with Sully FC to form Inter Cardiff FC in 1990 becoming Inter CableTel AFC before going back to the Inter Cardiff name in 1999.  But then the following year Inter Cardiff merged with Cardiff Metropolitan University FC to form UWIC Inter Cardiff F.C, sometimes known as The Sheep.  In 2012 the final link with the Inter Cardiff name went and the club became Cardiff Metropolitan University F.C.

Inter Cardiff took part in the Uefa Cup three times but were always knocked out in the preliminary or qualifying rounds.

I hope that’s clear.

Back with George Wood in all he gained four caps for Scotland between 1979 and 1982, the last being like the first against Northern Ireland, on 28 April 1982.

He joined Cardiff City on 1 June 1990 and during his time at Cardiff he was goal keeping coach, and while at non-league Inter Cardiff he was manager.  He also worked as goalkeeping coach at Swindon Town from 2009 to 2011 before going back to Blackpool yet again to take up that job, before most recently in December 2012 returning to Crystal Palace in the same role.


Season Club League Games Goals
1970–1971 East Stirlingshire 43 1
1971–1977 Blackpool 117 0
1977–1980 Everton 103 0
1980–1983 Arsenal 60 0
1983–1987 Crystal Palace 192 0
1987–1990 Cardiff City 67 0
1989–1990 Blackpool (loan) 15 0
1990–1991 Hereford United 41 0
1991–1992 Merthyr Tydfil 32 0
1992–1997 Inter Cardiff 127 0

Here are the main dates in summary

  • 20 September 1952: George Wood born
  • 14 August 1980: George Wood signed from Everton
  • 20 September 1980: George Wood debut
  • 28 April 1982: George Wood final cap for Scotland
  • 20 April 1983: last game for George Wood
  • 30 May 1983: George Wood transferred to Crystal Palace


The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

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