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armfield statueI was saddened this morning to hear the news that former Blackpool and England right-back, and also Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers manager, Jimmy Armfield had passed away at the age of 82 after a battle against cancer.

When I started watching football, the five big Lancashire football towns of Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Burnley and Preston were all still playing in the top flight. All five had their own big stars. At Blackburn it was Ronnie Clayton, there was Nat Lofthouse at Bolton, Tom Finney at Preston and, of course, our own Jimmy McIlroy.

Once Stanley Matthews had gone back to Stoke there is no doubting that Jimmy Armfield held that position at Bloomfield Road. It’s no surprise, the Denton born right-back played his entire career for them and played 627 competitive games in Blackpool colours over a period of 17 years.

He also played on 43 occasions for England. He played in the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile and was voted the best right-back in the world following the tournament. He played his last international in 1966, was in the World Cup winning squad, but injury prevented him playing with George Cohen replacing him.

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Having hung up his boots at Blackpool in 1971, he moved into management with Bolton. He was there for over three years before following Brian Clough at Leeds. After almost four years there, a time that included a European Cup final against Bayern Munich, his management career came to an end.

And then came his next career as a journalist and then broadcaster and his voice is one I’ve often listened to travelling to our away games.

The word gentleman was always associated with Armfield. I met him once at a function a good number of years ago. He was a delight to speak to.

He’ll certainly not be forgotten at Blackpool. The most recent stand is named the Jimmy Armfield South Stand and in 2009 a statue was commissioned by the Supporters Association, the one you can see at the top of this article.

On behalf of Up the Clarets I’d like to send condolences to his wife Anne, sons Duncan and John and their families at this sad time as another Lancashire football great leaves us.

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