Jimmy Armfield's health: "Sometimes I feel I'm 18, sometimes I feel I'm 80"

Armfield has battled serious illnesses for over a decade.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 11:12 am
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 12:30 pm
Jimmy Armfield was president of Trinity Hospice

In May 2007, Armfield announced that he had been undergoing treatment for non-hodgkin lymphoma in his throat, and for the next few months he remained out of the public limelight.

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Growing up playing football in the streets and on the beach, he only played rugby at school and had never played on a proper football pitch until he went along to a junior trial match at Blackpool where, playing on the wing, he scored four goals.

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Having impressed the club officials, Armfield turned his back on the chance to go to university and signed for Blackpool in 1954.

By the time he made his debut, in an away game against Portsmouth just after Christmas, he had been converted into a right back.

However, later that year, he was the half-time guest at Blackpool’s home match against Colchester United.

The reception he received was so warm that second half nearly had to be delayed as the club’s fans gave a prolonged standing ovation to the man they affectionately dubbed “Sir Jimmy”.

Armfield successfully overcame the illness having received 400 cards to his house two streets back from the Promenade in his adopted home town, while 2,500 emails were sent to Blackpool FC.

“I was among good people,” Armfield told The Gazette.“I just wanted to be in Blackpool.

“It was harrowing but I tried to be positive all the time. The two chaps who had treatment with me didn’t make it and I do wonder why I beat the disease.

“Was it because I played sport every day of my young life? I think it might be. I was physically strong and that may well have saved me.

“I also had my own personal nurse, which helped,” he said referring to his wife Anne who he married in Blackpool in 1958.

In November 2016, Armfield revealed to The Gazette that he was being treated for cancer a second time.

He did not open up on the details about the nature of his latest illness but revealed he was optimistic about the outcome.

He said: “I had surgery at Clifton Hospital and I have been attending the Rosemere Centre in Preston for daily treatment as a day patient.

“I finish the treatment this weekend and the consultant who I am seeing again seems confident. I think I am now through a lot of the difficult part and it is nowhere near as evasive as last time.

“I have had these health issues since the beginning of September, but I am better now than I have been for over a month. It is amazing how quickly medicine has moved on, and I am thankful for that.”

His illness worsened towards the end of 2017 when he suffered a series of strokes and spent a prolonged period of time in hospital.

Speaking to The Gazette in 2015 while celebrating his 80th birthday, Armfield said: “When you get older you have a tendency to live for the day.

“I was a school governor for 30 years, I still do the coaching advice for the PFA, I’m chairman of the Lancashire Partnership against Crime, President of Age UK Blackpool, President of Trinity Hospice and those keep me mobile all the time.

“Sometimes I feel I’m 18, sometimes I feel I’m 80, although as time goes on I’m increasingly feeling like the latter.

“I have things to keep my mind going, I play the organ which is good for my brain and I’m a keen gardener. That all helps in keeping me active, I’ve always been non-stop, that’s my thing.

As a player I was like that, people say I was the first over lapping full-back but that’s just what I’m like.”