George Speak

George Speak : Preston North End

George Speak was born in Blackburn on 7th November, 1890. He played local football for Clitheroe Central before having trials with Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion in 1910. After being rejected by these clubs he signed for Grimsby Town. He had four games for this club in the 1911-12 season.

This stocky left-back spent 10 months at Gainsborough Trinity before joining West Ham United in May 1914. At the beginning of the 1914-15 season he was the club's first choice left-back but lost his place and only played 13 games before the First World War brought an end to professional football in England.

In March, 1919, Speak was transferred to Preston North End for £25. Manager Vincent Hayes was attempting to rebuild his side after the war. His captain was the former English international, Joseph McCall. He also signed Tommy Roberts, Rowland Woodhouse, Archie Rawlings and George Waddell.

Preston North End did very well in the FA Cup in 1921. The club defeated Newcastle United (3-1), Barnsley (3-0) and Arsenal (2-1). Archie Rawlings scored the first goal in the semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur and created the chance for Tommy Roberts to score the winning goal.

Preston played Huddersfield Town in the final. The team lost to the only goal of the game, a penalty conceded by Tommy Hamilton. It was awarded when Hamilton tripped Huddersfield's outside-left Billy Smith. Hamilton admitted the offence but claimed it was outside the penalty area.

Speak played in 65 games for Preston before being transferred to Leeds United for £250 in 1923. He only played 28 times for his new club before retiring from the game.

George Speak died in 1953.

Primary Sources

(1) Doug Lamming, Who's Who of Grimsby Town (1995)

Capital back, quite fearless, kicking an admirable length and placing to advantage. A believer in direct methods. George was a little apt at times to take undue risks. Described as "a bundle of pluck and energy."

(2) Dean Hayes, Who's Who of Preston North End (2006)

Left-back George Speak was a rugged and fearless character who was noted for his powerful clearance kicking.