Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro Legend George Dies

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro Legend George Dies

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

George Hardwick, a Boro football legend and one of the Twentieth Century's all-time greats, died today at the age of 84.

The Saltburn-born player, who captained Great Britain against the Rest of Europe in the VE celebration match in 1947, passed away in a nursing home in the early hours of the morning.

He had been ill for some time but, until recently, was a regular attender at Boro's home games with his wife Jennifer.

Flags at the Riverside were at half-mast today, while a minute's silence will be held at Boro's Premiership match at home to Aston Villa at the stadium on Saturday.

Boro chairman Steve Gibson said: "Everybody at the football club is deeply saddened.

"George Hardwick's name is synonymous with Middlesbrough Football Club. He was a Boro legend alongside the late Wilf Mannion and represented the club and the town at the very highest level on the international stage."

Boro chief executive Keith Lamb said: "Naturally our thoughts are with George's family and friends at this very sad time.

"We have lost one of our greatest heroes and most famous sons.

"George continued to attend all our home games until very recently and was much loved and respected.

"He will be sadly missed by all of us."

As a player, and as a man, George had few equals in the game.

A tough-tackling left-back or centre-back, he learned his trade playing youth football in Lingdale.

Signed from South Bank East End in May, 1937, he broke into the Boro team as a teenager in the old First Division.

During the Second World War he took part in active service and became a war-time England international.

After the end of hostilities, George was England captain for 13 consecutive games and a Boro stalwart.

In 1950 he became Oldham Athletic's player manager and went on to become one of the most respected coaches in the game.

He introduced "Total Football" when coach to the emerging Dutch national side in the late Fifties, and also introduced Brian Clough to coaching when he was manager of Sunderland.

Hardwick's esteem as a Boro legend was commemorated by the erection of a full-size bronze sculpture in his honour outside of the Riverside Stadium, opposite that of his great contemporary Wilf Mannion.

He was a local businessman upon leaving football and continued to remain a well-known and respected figure in the Teesside community.

Always a battler, George made a good recovery from a double heart by-pass operation in South Cleveland Hospital five years ago.

He had bravely fought against ailing health over the past 12 months, but his public appearances had been strictly limited.

Hilary Maddren, the wife of fellow Boro legend Willie Maddren, who died from motor neurone disease almost four years ago, paid tribute to George Hardwick this morning. …

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