Saints Legends You Have Never Heard Of ! Part 2
Wednesday, 30th May 2012 09:38
Today we look at an Ex Saint who including his coaching career was involved with teams as diverse as Arsenal, the Indian Olympic team and Quatar.
George Curtis it could be said got around a bit, he signed for Arsenal in 1936 aged 17, spent a couple of years at their then nursery club Margate on loan and then just as he was breaking into the Arsenal first team squad Hitler intervened, hostilities starting with George having amassed just two first team appearances at the end of 38/39 season.
He spent much of the war in India with the RAF and played wartime games not just for Arsenal, but West Ham, Chelsea, Orient, after the war he resumed his Arsenal career, but approaching 27 many of his best footballing years had been taken from him, Saints manager Bill Dodgin was impressed though and Curtis was valued at £10,000 in the deal that took on Roper to Highbury.
Curtis could be described as a 1940, Le Tissier, nicknamed Twinkletoes by his new teammates at the Dell, in an era where players wore hobnail boots on the pitch and shouldercharging goalkeepers into the goalnet was not a foul, his feints, tricks and artistry more than compensated for what some considered a reluctance to "get his shorts dirty"
He was a vital component of the side that for three seasons in the late 1940,s was so close to promotion to the top flight but as that side broke up, Curtis in the summer of 1952 took the then rare route of plying his trade abroad, joining French second division club Valenciennes for £1,500.
He reamined in France but one season when he returned to England to embark upon a long coaching career, he had coached the Indian Olympic squad of 1948 and this whet his appetite, he started at Chelmsford City, progressed to Sunderland and even encompassed Cambridge University, San Diego Toros, Rosenborg in Norway who by Coincidence met Saints in 1968 in the then Fairs Cup, pre its name change to UEFA Cup, his success with Rosenborg saw him appointed Norway's International manager in 1971 a role he held for three years, with limited success, but in fairness Norway were not a footballing giant and he didnt have much to work with, he was sacked after a disastrous qualifying campaign for the 1974 World Cup which included a 9-0 thrashing by Holland and even a defeat to Luxembourg.
In 1976 he returned to Rosenborg, but tragedy struck as his Norwegian wife was killed in a car crash, his focus was obviously elsewhere and he was released from his contract from the club.
His final professional coaching position was two years in Quatar from 1979-81.
He then retired back to his native Essex, still passionate about the game he continued to coach youth teams, sadly he died in November 2004 only a couple of weeks short of his 85th birthday, it was reported that he was living alone in a caravan in Chelmsford.
George's playing career will be best remembered for his years at the Dell, his five years saw him play 174 league games scoring 11 times and 9 in the FA Cup with just 1 goal, for his first four seasons he was a virtual ever present and only in his last did was he not considered a first team regular.
Photo: Action Images
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