The annals of football history are full of odd stories. One quaint story comes from the Midlands where Lichfield-born Noel George was goalkeeper for Wolverhampton Wanderers for the 1921 FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs won the 1921 final with a goal from Jimmy Dimmock but our story concerns the Wolves goalkeeper of the day, Noel George.
George was an imposing figure, often described as a giant. One article made the dubious claim that he could hold the ball between the thumb and forefinger of either hand. Who are we to doubt this claim?
He first came into the Wolves first team during the 1920/21 season when he took Welsh international goalkeeper Teddy Peers place in the side. He played throughout Wolves’ cup run to the final.
George would cement his place as a regular in the Wolves team for the next six years. However, an illness curtailed his career and he had to retire in the late 1920s. Sadly the illness that ended his career also ended his life, and he passed away at the terribly young age of only 31.
We pick up the Noel George story again in 1946 in Lichfield where this wonderful article appeared in the Lichfield Mercury
Probably the most ancient jersey ever on display in the annals of the Lichfield and District League was on show on Saturday at the Burntwood Rangers – City Institute game. Spectators were amazed at the spectacle of a tattered pain spattered, bottle-green jersey worn by goalkeeper C. Gough, for the Institute, who was obviously proud of his possession.
Gough’s jersey is one with a famous history and came into his possession at the time of his entry into the City Institute club as goalkeeper last season.
The jersey, over 25 years old, had been worn and was the property of one of Lichfield’s foremost and most distinguished footballers – none other than the late Noel George of Molineux fame. Noel George, a colourful figure in national football during the twenties, wore the jersey when keeping goal for the Wolves in the 1921 Stamford Bridge Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur. it was a most thrilling final, as some of our older sportsmen will recall Noel George, wearing the same green jersey, only let one goal past him, and it was the winner for Spurs.
Whether Gough, who has played consistently well in goal for the Institute this season wears the jersey through necessity in these couponless times or for sentimental reasons is a matter for conjecture. But, in any case, the jersey is in good hands and, despite its age and tattered appearance, continues to render good service to the cause of local football.
It’s absolutely wonderful to hear that a jersey from the 1921 Cup Final was still in use after the second World War albeit in a local league. It caused a bit of a stir locally at the time but this story is now long forgotten.
The present whereabouts of said jersey are currently unknown.
Source material from the excellent British Newspaper Archive.