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George Eastham – How my Godfather completely transformed football

1 month ago

I have now written a number of articles for the Mag, mainly relating to the current doom and gloom around the Mike Ashley / Steve Bruce era.

However, I would now like to relate to you an important story from the past.

One which demonstrates that football leagues and Newcastle United owners have always been controversial but change will happen.

I was born in 1956, the year after Newcastle United had made it three FA Cup wins in just five years, the greatest NUFC period.

My father, God bless him, was a lifelong Newcastle fan. In fact he would drink with the Newcastle players during this brilliant footballing period.

My father’s great friend and my Godfather was Newcastle United, England, and later Arsenal player, George Eastham. As a boy that must have been brilliant (in truth, it is so long ago a can’t really recall my feelings).

Back to the plot.

George had a disagreement with NUFC over the temporary accommodation provided by the club, which he believed was substandard, this eventually led him to request a transfer. His request was refused under the football league rule “retain and transfer”, also nicknamed the slavery rule. This in essence tied a player to a club for life.

George eventually went on strike at the end of the 1959/60 season. Not playing football, he moved to Guildford to work for an old family friend.

Newcastle United eventually agreed to release him and he signed for Arsenal in October 1960. Unhappy with his treatment by Newcastle and the football league, he eventually took legal action in 1963. This eventually resulting in rewriting the rules on football transfers, removing the “retained” element, thus allowing footballers the freedom to move between clubs.

Well done George for fighting for what was right.

The moral of this true story – Newcastle United have always been controversial and probably always will be. However, if you believe in what is right and fair, you can achieve your wishes and make change happen.

George’s legacy is one which Newcastle United should be very proud of, as should English and European football leagues.

Younger fans can find a more detailed account by visiting the George Eastham page on Wikipedia.



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