George Ritchie

Leicester City In 100 Players: George Ritchie

Club Historian John Hutchinson's series continues with George Ritchie, a classy midfield player for the Club between 1928 and 1937. He later returned to Filbert Street as trainer, helping Leicester City to reach the 1949 FA Cup Final.
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Born in Glasgow in 1904, left half-back George Ritchie was a mainstay of the Leicester City sides between 1928 and 1937. During his nine seasons at Filbert Street he made 261 league and cup appearances and scored 13 goals. He arrived at Filbert Street as a 24-year-old with a growing reputation. 

After a brief spell as a teenager at Blackburn Rovers, he played for the short-lived Scottish side Royal Albert before spending four seasons with the Scottish First Division club Falkirk. 

Five months after he had played for a Scottish League XI against Leicester City at Filbert Street in a fundraising match for Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Ritchie was signed by Leicester’s manager Willie Orr in September 1928 for a large fee. Even though Everton were also very keen to sign him, Ritchie opted for Filbert Street at a time when the Club had finished third in the league the previous season. 

Described in the press at the time as ‘one of the greatest left-halves in Scotland’, Ritchie was signed as a replacement for the departed England half-back Sid Bishop. After his first game at Filbert Street, Ritchie commented: 'You don’t get much time to think'.

But he quickly adjusted to the English style of play as he helped Leicester City achieve the runners-up spot in the top flight at the end of his first season. 

Appointed captain after Johnny Duncan left Leicester City in 1930, Ritchie’s classy half-back performances stood out in an ageing side which, after 10 seasons in the top flight, was relegated in 1935, but he was still playing when they won the Second Division title two years later.

By now he was 33 and his understudy, the younger Percy Grosvenor, was vying for George’s position in the first team. In August 1937, he signed for Colchester United, which had only been formed five months earlier. As captain, he helped the U’s to win the Southern League Cup in 1938 and title in 1939. 

He became Ipswich Town’s assistant coach in 1939, but this position was short-lived as his new club was the only Football League team not to kick a ball for the duration of the Second World War. 

When Duncan became Leicester City’s manager in March 1946, George returned to Filbert Street as trainer and was a key member of the backroom staff when the Foxes reached their first-ever FA Cup Final in 1949. 

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