19 September: Remembering Geoff Strong

19 September 1937: Geoff Strong was born in Kirkheaton, Northumberland.


Being a talented schoolboy sprinter and top athlete he seemed destined from the start to make his living from sport.  He trained as a machine-tool fitter while playing for Stanley United, until he joined Arsenal in a £100 deal in November 1957 aged 20.

Having made a huge impact in the reserves and having undertaken his National Service he played his first match on 17 September 1960, against Newcastle.  Arsenal won 5-0.

His impact was instant, playing 19 league games in 1960/1 and scoring 10 goals.  By 1961/2 he was the first choice often playing alongside Joe Baker and George Eastham.  In 1963/64 Strong and Baker each scored 28 league and cup goals.  Indeed noting just that trio of players it is amazing to consider how Arsenal actually failed to get higher than 7th in the league during Strong’s period in the side.  His total was 69 goals in 125 games.

But this was the era of The Darkness (he was managed by Swindin and Wright) – that long period when Arsenal made no impact on the First Division, and Geoff Strong rebelled against the failure, demanding a transfer to a more successful club.

So in November 1964, Arsenal sold him for £40,000 to Liverpool.  But we had had the best of him – he played 155 games for Liverpool and scored 29 – a scoring rate of 19% compared with over 55% at Arsenal.

However he immediately won the FA Cup with Liverpool – their first win of the trophy, and Liverpool played him in almost every possible position on the pitch, ending up as left back!

Apart from the FA Cup he helped Liverpool reach the European Cup Winners Cup Final the following season, including scoring in the tie against Juventus.  He also gained a championship medal with the side.

When he was sold to Coventry City for £30,000 at the age of 32 Liverpool were said to have sold not one but 10 players, so diverse was his influence.  Strong played at Coventry alongside Jeff Blockley at centre half.  But after an injury he retired in the summer of 1972.

He later ran a hotel-furnishing company on Merseyside and co-owned a pub with Ian Callaghan.   He was voted in at No. 98 on the Official Liverpool FC website poll of players.  In later life he suffered from Alzheimers disease, but continued to be seen at Anfield, although he maintained no connection with Arsenal.

Geoff Strong died on the morning of 17 June 2013 in Southport.

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