On 15 November 1950 Leslie Compton won his first full cap for England, having won 12 war time caps. He was the oldest player ever to win his first full cap – at the age of 38.
Leslie Compton played for Arsenal between 1930 and 1952 mainly as a centre-half, making 253 appearances and scoring 5 goals. He won a First Division title medal in 1948 and a FA Cup winners medal in 1950.
His brother Denis played for Arsenal between 1936 and 1950, mainly as an outside left, making 54 appearances and scoring 15 goals. He also won a first Division title medal in 1948 and the FA Cup winners medal in 1950.
Denis Compton CBE was born in Hendon on 23 May 1918 and died in Hendon on 23 April 1997. If we are to separate the Comptons somehow, we’d call Denis a cricketer who played football, in contrast to his brother Leslie who was a footballer who played cricket. Denis played in 78 Test Matches and played for Middlesex – his home county. He was a slow left arm bowler, and cricket reports call him one of England’s most remarkable batsmen. He scored 123 centuries in first-class cricket. A stand at Lord’s is name in his honour.
Denis started his football career at Nunhead in 1934/5 before moving to Arsenal, where he made his début in 1936. He also played for England in wartime matches.
So, on to his brother Leslie whose England appearance we celebrate today.
Like his brother he played cricket for Middlesex, but it was at football that he excelled. He came to Arsenal straight from Middlesex Schools, and played as an amateur in 1930 playing his first first-team game on 24 April 1932 against Aston Villa, just after turning pro.
He started as a right back, but then when George Male took that place, and Denis went back into the reserves.
His first medal came with the Charity Shield in 1938. During the war he continued to play for Arsenal and, being converted to centre forward he scored ten goals in one game against Leyton Orient.
After the war however he moved into the centre of defence. He missed a few games in 1947/8 because of his commitments to Middlesex (which must mean that Arsenal and Middlesex had a deal as to when he was available) but he played for the rest of the season as Arsenal won the First Division title and both Comptons got their league winner’s medals.
Denis was then selected to play for England on 15 November 1950, at the age of 38 years and 64 days; the oldest post-war England débutante and the oldest ever outfield player to début.
Leslie retired in the summer of 1952 but stayed on for three more years as a coach and scout. His cricketing record was 272 appearances for Middlesex where he played as wicket keeper, and both brothers won the 1947 County Championship.
The Comptons are thus the only brothers ever to have won the League and County titles in football and cricket.