Hall of Fame: Jimmy Armstrong

Jimmy Armstrong

One of Victorian football's most prolific forwards, Jimmy Armstrong, was born on 21 March 1943 in Scotland and played semi-professional football for Renfrew and Yoker Athletic before arriving in Australia as a 23-year-old in 1966.

Upon receiving an international clearance from Yoker Athletic, Armstrong joined Hakoah in the Victorian State League, his first goals coming in the form of a hat-trick against Alexander in a 4-1 win. With 7 goals in half-a-season, he guided Hakoah to 4th in the League and a win in the Dockerty Cup. He scored 20 goals in as many matches in 1967, then 19 goals in 1968 to claim the Golden Boot. By the time the new decade dawned, he had bagged a half-century of league goals and attracted interest from South Melbourne Hellas, who duly signed him in 1970.

South Melbourne Hellas 1972 VSL Champions
The all-conquering South Melbourne Hellas team from 1972, Armstrong (kneeling, second from the right) was the State League's leading scorer.

What followed was a partnership made in heaven. In seven seasons between 1970 and 1976, Armstrong played 150 league games and scored 89 goals, claiming the Victorian State League goalscoring honours twice more not to mention the Bill Fleming Medal in 1974. More importantly, he was instrumental in steering the club to three championships in that period, cementing himself as an all-time great of the club.

Victoria 1967 State Team
Victoria, as it appeared against South Australia at Olympic Park in 1967. Armstrong (standing, second from the right), would score a debut goal for his adopted state.

It was at this time that Armstrong played for Australia, scoring twice in four internationals, including the second goal in a 2-0 win against South Korea in Seoul. He played ten representative matches for Victoria, most notably against Brazilian giants Santos and Cruzeiro, Manchester United, Werder Bremen and Bristol Rovers, where he scored the clinching goal in a 2-1 win at Olympic Park. 

He remained with South Melbourne until it joined the National Soccer League in 1977, then moved to Juventus, where he would score another 10 goals in two seasons. Upon his departure from Juventus in 1979, he had amassed a remarkable 152 goals in the Victorian top flight, the most in the State League era, and only bettered by Sash Becvinovski who amassed 200+ goals across three decades in the Victorian Premier League.

Jimmy Armstrong: Bill Fleming Medal 1974
Jimmy Armstrong with the Bill Fleming Medal in 1974.

At 36, he moved to regional Victoria to play multiple seasons with Shepparton United in the North Eastern Soccer League, before returning to the metropolitan leagues, albeit with the Morwell Falcons. After turning 40, he transferred back to Melbourne, firstly with Sandringham City in the lower divisions, before moving to the Industrial & Amateur League where he kitted up for ANZ Bank.

Upon retirement he turned to coaching, firstly with Juventus, and then with South Melbourne, fulfilling the Director of Coaching role with both clubs. His most successful period as a senior Head Coach came with Westvale Olympic in the early 1990s. He has fulfilled a host of roles beyond coaching, including time on the Board of Directors at South Melbourne, where he was also Secretary for two seasons. He was a member of Victorian Soccer Federation committees at both the senior and junior level and worked tirelessly in promoting football in the Victorian secondary schools system.

Armstrong was part of the inaugural intake of the Football Australia Hall of Fame and is a Life Member of Football Victoria. He was named as the starting forward in South Melbourne's Team of the Century, where he continues to attend matches when his health permits.

Jimmy Armstrong: Hall of Fame
Jimmy Armstrong, Football Victoria Hall of Fame inductee in 2016.