Saturday, June 12, 2021

Vale George 'Chopper' Arnott

Photo:  George Arnott in the dugout at KGV Park on 29 January 2016. [PlessPix] 

George ‘Chopper’ Arnott, one of Tasmania’s most notable footballers of the 1950s and 1960s, passed away in Hobart on Thursday aged 86 years.

George was born in West Calder, near Edinburgh, in Scotland, and was being watched by scouts from Heart of Midlothian because of his footballing talent when he was only 15.

He came out to Tasmania on his own as a 17-year-old in 1951 and was asked to join local Scottish club, Caledonians, the club with which he made his name and captained, when he was spotted watching a game at South Hobart and wearing a Tartan scarf and tie.

His first regular season with Caledonians was in 1952 and he was soon a key player in the side and was chosen to represent Southern Tasmania and the senior Tasmanian side against intrastate and interstate opposition.  He played for Tasmania against every other Australian State.

Photo:  George Arnott holding the cup after Caledonians had won the title in 1960. 

George was a forward and he represented Tasmania at the national carnival in Adelaide in 1954, when he scored 10 of Tasmania’s 14 goals.

He also played against South China Athletic Association, Chinese Athletic, the Australian Olympic XI, and to his great delight, Heart of Midlothian, in 1959.

He played 26 times for Southern Tasmania and also captained the side.

By 1962, when he was named as “Jack Cade’s Player-of-the-Year” in the Saturday Evening Mercury, he had made more than 275 appearances for Caledonians and scored more than 200 goals for the club, including 66 in one season.

He once scored 9 goals in a game in which Caledonians beat Titan 11-2.

George was captain of Caledonians when they won the State Premiership in 1960 and also when they won the combined Falkinder Cup and Charles Lucas Memorial Trophy in 1962.

By 1962, he had won Caledonians’ best and fairest award twice.  It had only been running for three years at that stage.

During his time with Caledonians, the club won six State Premierships, ten Falkinder Cups and two Lucas Trophies.

Photo:  George Arnott (second from right, back row) in the 1961 Caledonians side at South Hobart.   

George took no prisoners and was renowned for his physical, robust style of play, hence the nickname ‘Chopper’.

He was also on the receiving end of some rough and tough play and took it on the chin.

In one game against Croatia-Glenorchy at South Hobart, he was flattened by Croatia’s Tony Skaro.  When his team-mates rallied around him and tried to lift him up, George begged them to leave him on the ground and mumbled something about if he got up, Skaro would flatten him again.

I know of one goalkeeper at least who still carries the scars of an Arnott challenge on his fingers.

Photo:  George Arnott (second from right, back row) in the 1963 Caledonians team. 

George was of the old school and goalkeepers were fair game at corners and in any aerial confrontations.

Apart for Caledonians, the only other club George played for was Launceston Juventus.  He joined them when he was transferred to Launceston in his work with the Department of Agriculture.

Launceston Juventus were known as a hard, physical side and George fitted the team like a hand in a glove.

After retiring as a player, George, turned his attention to administration and served on the committee of the Tasmanian Soccer Association for some years.

He also served on the Caledonians committee and on the committee of Kingborough Lions, after the merger of Caledonians and Kingborough.

He was a father figure to one of Tasmania’s star imports, Ian Parker, when he arrived from England in the late 1970s to join Caledonians.  Parker lived with the Arnotts for a number of years.

George was inducted into the Kingborough Lions United Hall of Fame.

Photo:  Two great Caledonians stars, George Arnott (left) and Bernard Siggins. [PlessPix] 

He was always keen to help his club and, together with his wife, Betty, and Bernard and Patty Siggins and Terry and Margaret Collins, was a familiar figure in the club’s kiosk at the back of the grandstand at Grove Road.

George was a good friend and I enjoyed our conversations about football over the years.

He will be missed by his daughter Barbara and sons David and Ian, and by his ten grandchildren, as well as by all who knew him.


Photo:  George Arnott (right) with son Ian at the Showgrounds in Hobart in September 2012. [PlessPix]

Photo:  Ian Parker (left) and George Arnott (right) with former Caledonians stars and stalwarts  (L-R) Spinner Adkins, Tony Walner, Bernard Siggins and Terry Collins. [PlessPix]

Photo:  Kingborough Lions named a best-and-fairest trophy after George Arnott and holding that trophy in this photo is Marcello Marchioli. [PlessPix]


Good old days said...

He was a Ruritanian mongrel that Skaro, and what a straightforward, substantive centre-forward... and he's mentioned to me on many an occasion how much he enjoyed his to-dos with fellow spartans like Arnott and the late, great "Noddy" Quinn, whom Skaro also confessed he could never quite get the better off. Great piece, Walter. What great days.
RIP Chopper. Auld acquaintance should never be forgot.

Anonymous said...

Walter the youth of today will never know or understand the quality of player that played the game in this state in years past
People who comment about the standard in Tasmania today compared to the start of the ‘ Victory League ‘ ax an example, have
no idea how much the Victory League was no where near the standard of the early years .

Steve Darby said...

As usual superbly written by Walter. I never played v George but had many dealings as an administrator.I always found him honest, hard but fair. A proper football man.RIP

Anonymous said...

George and I tried for Calies 1n 1952 . We played a visiting ship side at the old Titan ground.
Calies signed George but told me to stay in touch. Brian Roberts

"Man Apiece" said...

Calies' gain was South Hobart's gain too, in the case of your subsequently excellent service to that great club, Brian.

Ray Carroll said...

I first met George in the early 70's when I joined Calies. He was a committee man & helped me in any way he could when I coached the under-age teams in the 70's & 80's. He came out of retirement for the Calies 'Cosmos', (Very Social team), as we were short. I remember it was against Uni. He left a few players battered & bruised that day. He must have been some player when he was younger !.
My thoughts go out to his family & friends.
RIP 'Chopper'. "Up the Calies"