Oldest former English professional footballer – George Haigh

GEORGE HAIGH: Oldest former English professional footballer alive today, aged 102

GEORGE HAIGH, born in Reddish, near Stockport (now part of Greater Manchester) on 26 June 1915, is the oldest former English professional footballer alive today, aged 102.

Haigh started his career in 1932 as a junior defender with Manchester City and played regularly in the third team and reserves, lining up in front of the legendary England goalkeeper Frank Swift several times.

After languishing in the second XI for several seasons without ever making the first team, Haigh moved to Stockport County in August 1936. He continued playing at various levels and eventually made two League appearances for the Hatters, both in Division Three North in October 1938 – against Lincoln City (home, 3-3 draw) and against Carlisle United (away, lost 2-3).

Unfortunately he conceded an own-goal on his debut against the Imps.

In July 1940, Haigh joined the RAF and when stationed at Morecambe and Wilmslow he trained new recruits and future parachutists as a PE instructor.

He became a flight sergeant, then pilot officer (June 1941) and whilst at Morecambe, played for the services’ team before signing for Rochdale, facing the great Stanley Matthews of Blackpool many times.

Haigh, who also assisted Walsall and Burnley, was promoted to flying officer, then flight lieutenant in 1944 and was mentioned in despatches in before ending his war service as a squadron leader.

In July 1945, Haigh was offered the player-manager’s position at Arbroath but decided to stay in England and joined Lancaster City who also found him a job as a metal spinner.

Discharged from the Army as a sergeant in June 1946, Haigh later managed Rossendale United before quitting football in May 1952.

He continued to support Stockport and was the club’s guest of honour at a dinner in 2008 but hasn’t attended a match at Edgeley Park since September 2015 – three months after becoming a centenarian. Haigh now lives in Cheshire.