This was the day of Arthur Milton’s only international appearance as a footballer. That might not be something we would normally mention here except that he also played six test matches for England at cricket.
Twelve men have played for England at cricket and football: Alfred Lyttelton, Billy Gunn, Leslie Gay, Reginald “Tip” Foster (the only man to captained England at both cricket and football), Charles (CB) Fry, Jack Sharp, Harry Makepeace, Andy Ducat, Wally Hardinge, John Arnold, Willie Watson and Arthur Milton. We might also sneak in Denis Compton who played football for England in wartime internationals.
It is a list of some significance on an Arsenal facing website since Andy Ducat, Wally Hardinge, Arthur Milton and Denis Compton were all Arsenal men. And Arthur Milton was the last man ever to play both football and cricket for England as a full international.
Clement Arthur Milton was born at Bedminster, Bristol, on March 10 1928. In cricketing terms he scored 30,235 runs for Gloucestershire, in 1,017 innings between 1948 to 1974. When Milton turned out against Somerset in his final season, Ian Botham was amongst the opposition.
He is in the top ten in terms of catches in first-class cricket (758) and in 1952, he equalled the world record of seven catches in a day, and eight in the match.
On the footballing side Arthur Milton joined Arsenal as an amateur in 1945 and, following his National Service, played for the reserves until making his debut on 10 March 1951 against Aston Villa. This was indeed his 23rd birthday although it ended badly as he had to be carried off with an injured thigh, and it was his only appearance that season. It is remarkable therefore that he gained an England cap in that same year, in the 2-2 draw with Austria on November 28 1951, after just 12 league games.
Milton’s explanation is a measure of the man. “Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews were injured. My pal Jimmy Logie was the first to tell me I’d been picked. He said I was wanted at Wembley, and they’d probably picked me as I was nearby, nearer than anyone else.”
In total he played 84 games for Arsenal (75 in the league) on the right wing, scoring 21 goals and played 23 times for the title winning team of 1952/53 thus getting that most prized possession – a league winner’s medal.
He moved to Bristol City in February 1955 for £4,000 playing for them 14 times that season, scoring three goals, as they progressed to win the Third Division South title. He was never once on the losing side for Bristol City, but at the end of the season he decided to retire from football and Arsenal returned half the transfer fee.
He then won six England caps as an opening batsman between 1958 and 1959. He retired from first-class cricket in 1974 at the age of 46. He continued within cricket as a coach for Oxford University (although Milton remained sceptical about the usefulness of coaching) and a scout for England.
Then quite amazingly, he took a job as a Christmas relief postman and so enjoyed the social side he later went full time until compulsory retirement at 60. He then turned to paper deliveries which he continued until he was 74!
These last events perhaps are the measure of the man, who in the run up to the “Final Salute” season at Highbury said, “I just wanted to play sport with my mates.”
As if all this was not enough – cricketer, championship winning footballer, and all round nice bloke, he was also a single-handicap golfer, an excellent mathematician, and a fine snooker and billiards player.
He and his wife Joan (the daughter of his first landlady at Arsenal), also enjoyed travelling around Europe, often with the former Hampshire player Jimmy Gray and his wife. In 2002 the University of Bristol awarded him an honorary degree.
Arthur and Joan Milton had three sons, and he died on 25 April 2007 after a heart attack. Perhaps the best way to finish a tribute to such a man is to use his own words on reflecting on his later life as postman and newspaper delivery man.
“I loved the quiet of the early morning, looking at the stars. People used to say I’d missed the big money of present-day sport. I told them I was still a millionaire, out on my bike as life stirred so excitingly.”