Geoff Strong: made at Arsenal, flourished with Liverpool

by Tony Attwood

Geoffrey Hugh Strong, was born in Kirkheaton, Northumberland on 19 September 1937 and being a talented schoolboy sprinter and top quality  all-round athlete seemed destined from the start to make his living from sport.

However he trained as a machine-tool fitter while playing for north-eastern amateurs Stanley United, until he joined Arsenal in a £100 deal as a 20-year-old in November 1957.

Having made a huge impact in the reserves and have 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.

  Lge games Lge goals
1960/1 19 10
1961/2 20 12
1962/3 36 18
1963/4 38 26
1964/5 12 3
Total 125 69

But this was 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.

  Club Lge games Lge goals
1954-1957 Stanley United    
1958–1964 Arsenal 125 69
1964–1970 Liverpool 155 29
1970–1971 Coventry City 33 0

He immediately won the FA Cup with Liverpool – their first win of the trophy, as Strong moved into midfield and gradually rotated through all the positions, finishing up at 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 influenced.  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.

(The Anniversary File is now split in two, because of its size.  January to June and July to December)

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