Zillwood March – oldest winger in town

zillwoodmarcha

From the Daily Express on 26th October 1992, I found this piece on George Zillwood March, known as ‘Zach March’ who played for Brighton from 1913 to 1922 as an outside-right.

He was born in Bosham, Sussex, on 25th October 1892, and reached the grand old age of one hundred by the time of this article by Barry Flatman:

England’s oldest living ex-League footballer was getting ready to hang up his boots even before Wembley’s famous white horse had first been shod.

Had he not chosen to work on past his retirement date, he could have drawn his pension before the birth of the Busby Babes.

By the time Gazzamania struck, he was more excited about receiving a telegram from the Queen.

By Zillwood March, ex-Brighton and Hove Albion and Portmsouth, never once resorted to ‘it was better i my days’ for his 100th birthday speech.

Zillwood, or Zach, as he was known at the Goldstone and Fratton Park either side of the First World War, proudly celebrated his century yesterday. As he looked back he said: “I was not a bad player then but I’d like to say I would have been better if I’d played today.

“When I played everyone’s role in the team was very rigid. I was the left winger and you weren’t there for anything else but getting the ball, dribbling it down the wing past the full-back and then crossing for the centre-forward.

“If you went wandering in front of the flank you’d soon get a telling off. And I would have loved to play in those lovely light boots without the big hard toe cap, kicking those nice new balls which don’t get heavy with mud and water.”

Zillwood hails from the seaside Sussex village of Bosham and was snapped up by Brighton when 21. The very next summer Jack Robson, the boss who signed him, moved to Manchester United, and wanted to take his discovery with him.

Zillwood, still working as a builder for the family firm, refused and stayed at Brighton in the South West Combination before enlisting for the Royal Sussex Regiment to fight in the trenches.

Mention of war brings the only trace of anger from this happy old man. “The only people who started wars should have been left to fight them. It’s the most terrible thing I have ever seen because men just become animals.”

A hat-trick against Watford is his proudest memory, alongside being Brighton’s highest paid player at £4 a week.

Zillwood often fell prey to the full-back’s sliding tackle, a tactic he believes should be abolished.

It was the heavy lunge of one Moses Russell from Plymouth Argyle that enede his career. “I was getting a bit slower and he managed to kick me in the mouth and knock me out. I thought, ‘that’s enough'”

zillwood100But Zillwood never lost his enthusiasm for the game and still watches matches on TV. “There are players in the game nowadays who have so much skill, none more than Gazza. He’s an exhibitionist, a real star.”

His theory for long life? “It’s all down to a bit of luck and enjoying yourself. I loved my football career, I loved my building work and I love life.”

March died at the grand old age of 101 in Bognor Regis on 18th September 1994.

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One thought on “Zillwood March – oldest winger in town

  1. […] player signed was amateur Zillwood March, a winger from Bosham, who lived to the grand old age of 101, eventually passing away in 1994 in Bognor […]

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