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Jimmy Armfield Biography

 

Jimmy Armfield

Blackpool FC

43 caps, 0 goals

P 43 W 23 D 8 L 12 F 123: A 62
63% successful

1959-66

disciplined: none
captaincies:
15
minutes played:
3870

Jimmy Armfield

 
Jimmy Armfield on a game of two era's.
When my pay doubled to £40 a week I felt like a millionaire.

As David Beckham prepares to pocket £1 million a week with LA Galaxy, it's hard to imagine the time when footballers earned a maximum £20 weekly wage.  Former England captain Jimmy Armfield spent his whole career at first division Blackpool, from 1954-71.  Now 71 and a Five Live pundit, he recalls the days when top footballers weren't celebs and some even took on a second job...

These days, players move clubs for colossal amounts and for a better deal. But for most of my career there was no point because, up to 1961, there was a wage cap and we could only earn 20 quid a week.  Then the players' union campaigned and, within a year, it had doubled to £40. I thought I was a millionaire!

I may have been the England captain but I was still on just £40 a week.  I once asked my manager why my salary dipped to £14 in the close season, when my team-mate Stanley Matthews earned the same all year.

"He's a better player than you," was the reply.
"Not in summer he isn't," I said.

Players didn't have the power they do today.  When I asked for a couple of complementary tickets for my family, the manager refused, saying: "If they won't pay to see you, who will?"
I wanted to make some more money if I could, so I trained as a journalist at my local paper. I did that three or four afternoons a week and worked right through the time I was England captain.  I didn't have time for much else and we never had the money to gamble as they do now.

None of us drank much either. A few went to local pubs or to dinner and a dance. If there was a Saturday game and we'd won, I'd perhaps go out for a meal.

We did the same amount of training as now but it was nothing for us to play Saturday, Wednesday and Saturday. At Christmas and Easter, we'd often play three games in four days.

And we watched what we ate before a game even then.  It'd be boiled chicken, a steak or maybe scrambled eggs.  But I must admit that three or four of the lads on the team smoked and I was known to smoke a pipe occasionally!

When I started there were no floodlights, no shirt sponsors, no motorways, no TV football, no European Cup and no away kit.

For the 1962 World Cup in Chile, we stayed in a mining camp in the Andes for two weeks, to become adjusted to the altitude.  It makes me chuckle when I see all the computer games, videos and suchlike that the England lads take with them now. We didn't even have a TV.

Unlike David Beckham and most of the top stars today, I only did one advert. It was for Gola boots and I got £30. They just took my picture with the boots on.  There was no way I ever considered myself to be a celebrity. To my knowledge, there were never women throwing themselves at the players as they do now. It was a different, more local ball game.
When I first started as a professional, I cycled to the ground on my bike. And sometimes on a Saturday I'd walk there and then walk home with my pals after the match.

When I first got married, my wife Anne and I lived in a two-bed, end-of-terrace house. The first car I had was a little Morris Minor and when I was England captain, I was driving a Hillman Minx. But occasionally I'd still use public transport.

At Blackpool, we were a good side but we still knew all the fans. There was nothing really glamorous about our lives. When I first started playing, football wasn't on TV. So outside the town I wouldn't expect people to recognise me.

But David Beckham can only be a man of his time. I have never seen anyone in the game with the profile he has and I think he knows this move to the US is the right one for him. He's obviously a good family man and is doing what he thinks is best for him, his wife and children.

I'm never envious of players earning a lot of money - in football you can go on the field and get injured in the first minute and that's your career all over.  So I say good luck - they're entitled to their money. They are the ones who make it all happen.

This interview appeared in the Daily Mirror, London - 16th January 2007.

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CG