Today of all days

Arsenal’s history one day at a time

This series takes a look at what was happening to Arsenal and in the world around them on this day at one point in Arsenal’s past.

25 February 1899: The Arsenal manager who never was

Here’s the question: who was the manager on this date? 

The answer is Arthur Kennedy – but very curiously, the list of managers given on he is not mentioned.  Yet 25 February was definitely the date of his first game in charge.   William Elcoat left the club on 20 February after 43 games in charge and a very decent win percentage of 53.49%.

But he objected to the way the Committee of the club kept interfering in his work, so off he went and the following day Arthur Kennedy became manager.  His first match was on this day in 1899 and he stayed in charge for the rest of the season and through the summer.

Kennedy had been the finance secretary and was probably never considered to be the permanent manager, but even so, not including him in the list seems rather churlish.

And indeed there is clear evidence in the Annual Report and Statement of Accounts that Arthur Edwin Kennedy (who was Finance Secretary) became Secretary and Manager of Woolwich Arsenal FAC in June 1899 before later becoming club chairman, so he should be listed.

Under Kennedy, Arsenal won five, drew three and lost three of their remaining games to finish in 7th position.

So it that it?  Well no not quite.  Firstly Kennedy was also Vice‑President of the London FA, and during his time at Arsenal the club experimented with playing baseball in 1906-7.  Arsenal joined the baseball league for one season, and Kennedy was the first Chairman of the British Baseball league.

And second, Arthur Kennedy made at least one signing of note during his time as manager.  For on 8 June (clearly during his tenure) Kennedy signed  Duncan McNichol from St Bernards.

Ducan McNichol played in the original regular back two of Woolwich Arsenal – there are full details of them in an Arsenal History Society article on the player.  After playing for Arsenal he went on to be captain of Aberdeen, and their official web site says of him, he arrived with a proven track record from Woolwich Arsenal. He was a classy full back who went on to be widely accepted as the best player at the club in those days. After a long-term injury forced McNicol to give up the professional game he went on to take up hockey in the Aberdeen area.”

So there we are.  That is the man who fills the gap – and also the player he signed. 

24 February 1964

William Garbutt – Arsenal’s original Herbert Chapman

The memory of the Woolwich Arsenal player William Garbutt is still revered in Italian football, and you will find his name in most books that tell the history of Italian football from its foundation.

William Garbutt was an outside right who was born into a working class home in Stockport, and played for Royal Artillery (while in the army), and Reading (while they were in the Southern League), before coming to Woolwich Arsenal.

He joined in December 1905 and played 19 games in the rest of the 1905/6 season and scored  three goals.  The following year he played 25 games and scored three again.  In 1907/8 he played eight and scored two.

He was part of the Arsenal side that reached two FA Cup semi-finals in successive seasons; but was then displaced by Jackie Mordue and played in the reserves before moving to Blackburn at the end of the 1907/08 season.

Garbutt stayed in Blackburn for four years, played in another Cup semi-final, and played  for the Football League in a representative match.  After a run of injuries he stopped playing in 1912, aged 29.

He then moved to Genoa, which at the time was seen to be an English town in Italy, seeking work in the docks – but within weeks he was given the job of being head coach of Geona, who as noted above, were already a successful club.

Quite how he got the position we don’t know, and there are several theories about links with other footballing ex-patriots in the area at the time.

Garbutt put a heavy emphasis on physical fitness and tactics. The fitness he would have got from the army, and the tactics he adapted from the way football was moving in the early part of the 20th century in England.

He also introduced the first paid transfers (already commonplace in England), when he signed a player from AC Milan.  Among other things he took Genoa on tour to England, and even had them playing at Reading.

He stayed until 1927 by which time they had won the League in 1915, 1923 and 1924.

In July 1927 AS Roma was formed and such was Garbutt’s prestige that he was brought in as their manager. He stayed there for two years and won the Coppa Coni and came third in the league.

Next up was Napoli and took them up to third in the league for two seasons.

You might think that was enough for a working-class ex-footballer from Stockport, but no, he decided to move to Spain and become manager of Athletic Bilbao who then duly won the League.  Then back to Italy for a spell as boss of AC Milan before returning to Genoa, whose position in the league he rekindled.

He was exiled in the war, went back to Genoa again after the war, and died aged 67 in 1964 in Warwick.

There are remarkable links with Herbert Chapman. Chapman was not known as a brilliant player, but went into management just four years earlier than Garbutt, and the championships with Genoa in the 1920s coincided with Chapman’s work at Huddersfield Town.

Both men were keen users of the transfer system, and both were tactically very astute, being very willing to try out different approaches.

However while Chapman remains revered in this country, William Garbutt is little known.  His name however lives on in Italian football.

23 February 1913

Is the idea of having three clubs with grounds close to each other a good idea or a bad idea? 

Today it is less of an issue than in the past, since in earlier days clubs were more dependent on local support, so the argument could be put that having two clubs in close proximity was a bad idea.

This was certainly Tottenham’s thought when they first heard that Woolwich Arsenal were proposing to move to Highbury.

And so on 23 February 1913,  Tottenham Hotspur went on the attack, demanding that the Management Committee of the Football League state that Woolwich Arsenal could not move in on “their” territory. 

Tottenham were aided in this by Clapton Orient and on one front it looked like they might have a case, since clearly the region already had two clubs.  Clapton Orient had joined the League in 1905, and Tottenham had joined the League in 1908.  A third in the area, it was argued, seemed like overkill.

But although that seemed logical on the face of it there were other issues to be considered.

The first was, why on earth was Henry Norris deliberately bringing a club to within a few miles of two existing clubs?  Yes he had found a good plot of land to build the new stadium, but surely in the whole of London there had to be other good plots of land he could have taken.

Henry Norris in fact had two major reasons for choosing Gillespie Road in Islington for the new ground, other than the fact that the space was there and available.

First, he relished the transport links.  Although he had actually opposed the introduction of trams to Fulham (as a Unionist mayor of Fulham he was obliged to listen to his party, and they were very conservative and resolutely against the move fearing it would allow the riff raff to enter their area of the London suburbs), he knew that the transport issue was key.  Even 110 years ago, the days of the fan walking along a couple of streets to see his/her local team had gone.  Now fans were travelling by train, underground and bus.  Indeed an important part of Woolwich Arsenal’s support in Plumstead came from a group of fans in Rotherhithe.

Gillespie Road had transport options ready-made: Finsbury Park rail and underground services were working by 1913, as was Gillespie Road (later Arsenal) underground station.

But Henry Norris had also seen a rise in football interest in Fulham, once Chelsea created their club in 1905, and he felt that putting three clubs together in one small area could really bring football to the top of the agenda.  Although we have no reference to him saying this, my belief from what we do know is that he felt that having the three clubs in one area would force football onto the daily local newspapers’ agenda every day of the week.  And Norris did know a lot about newspapers, not least as a regular contributor of a column in his local Fulham paper.

In this he was right – and although it is often forgotten, the fact is that Tottenham and Arsenal both had significant increases in their crowds from September 1913 onwards.

That then was Norris’ logic for the move.  But there was something else.  Norris knew that Tottenham had no ability to object to the move, because Tottenham had been down this road before.   When both Chelsea and Clapton Orient had applied for places in the Southern League in 1904 and 1905 respectively, Tottenham had objected.  The Southern League, accepted Clapton in 1904, but then rejected Chelsea in 1905, after those Tottenham objections.   Clapton and Chelsea then jointly applied to join the Football League and were accepted and here Tottenham could have no objections since they played in the Southern League until 1908.

And what really made Norris secure was the meeting in 1910 at the time of Arsenal’s fall into administration, from which Norris rescued them.   Norris had discussed with the League, three proposals at that time.  One was to merge Fulham and Woolwich Arsenal, one was to move Woolwich Arsenal to Fulham’s ground, and one was to keep Woolwich Arsenal where it was for a year, to allow the people of Plumstead to support their club by buying shares and coming to matches.

In these discussions the League made it quite clear that

a) they controlled which division a club played in but

b) they had no right to decide where the club played

These rules have of course now changed, but that was the state of play in 1913 as it was in 1910, so Tottenham had no case, and must have known they had no case.

Tottenham’s request for the League Management Committee to hear the case was rejected at once, since the Management Committee were perfectly aware that their rules, re-iterated in 1910, were clear: they did not control where clubs played.

Tottenham did not give up the fight – and the matter rumbled on for some time to come, but eventually even they had to concede, Arsenal were close neighbours and Tottenham’s crowds rose as the area became London’s hotbed of football.

22 February 1913

On this date Gillespie Road was named in the press as Arsenal’s new home, for the first time.

Yes, today is the 108th anniversary of the naming of what became known as the Gillespie Road ground (and later “Highbury”) in the press as the new stadium for Woolwich Arsenal FC (later to be renamed The Arsenal, and then Arsenal).

On the pitch, at this time, things were going from appalling to worse as Woolwich Arsenal FC suffered their worst ever season.  But elsewhere there had been rumours and counter rumours for weeks as to where Henry Norris was taking the club.

When Henry Norris had paid off the debts of the club to stop it going into liquidation, he had given a promise that he would keep Woolwich Arsenal playing in Plumstead for at least one year to give the fans a chance to show that they would support their local team.  Later he expanded that promise to two years.   In fact he kept the club at Plumstead for three years but all that happened was that the crowds went down and down and down.

During the 1912/13 there was a lot of speculation that Arsenal would certainly move at the end of that season, and as time passed there was a general agreement emerging in the press that it was going to be either Islington or one of the adjacent boroughs to which Arsenal would move.  

However this day was the very first day that we knew for sure, not just that it was Islington, but that it was Highbury.

But to go back to the start, Henry Norris had started the season by saying that he would not move the club during the course of the season, and in this he was true to his word.

However it was clear the club had to move to survive, as the crowd at Plumstead sank to an average of 9,357 – generating nowhere near enough income for the club.  And it had been established with the League that Norris was free to move the ground anywhere he wished, as the League regulations had no mention of where a club might play.

That the move was a success is shown by the fact that in the first season at Highbury Woolwich Arsenal gained an average crowd of 22,974 to watch the club come 3rdin the Second Division – an astonishing achievement given that the ground wasn’t anything like complete at the time of the season’s first game.

But to go back and complete the story… by October 1912 rumours had been everywhere that Arsenal were moving – and indeed the highly regarded Athletic News ran a story at that time that Arsenal had bought land by Harringay Park railway station; land that would eventually be developed into Harringay Stadium.

Neither Norris nor Woolwich Arsenal had in fact bought such land, but it is more than likely that Norris had made enquiries thereabouts while also opening discussions concerning the land in Highbury.

It was not until November 1912 that Henry Norris settled on the site of the new home for the club, and even then it took months of painful negotiation with the religious foundation that owned the land before he could purchase a lease on the property and was able to start turning the land into a stadium.

The land Norris found was part of the sports facility owned by St John’s College, Highbury, a religious centre that trained young men for the church. The college (a private foundation) was unhappy about the possible change of use, but they had financial problems of their own and Norris turned out to be their only viable solution.

The college’s income was declining as the Church of England had changed the rules for the qualifications that men needed to become ordained meaning that clergy now needed degrees.  The men the college trained tended to be dedicated to the faith, but lacking in educational qualifications, and thus the college’s courses were less attractive than before, since they could not lead to a guaranteed C of E job.

Fortunately for them the land had been given to the College by a benefactor without restrictions as to its use and thus selling or leasing some of the land was not only a viable way of raising money, it was just about the only way the college had to raise the extra funds it urgently needed. With no one else interested in taking the lease, Norris must have seemed to the college as (if you will excuse the expression) a Godsend.

The story of Arsenal’s move was kept secret until this day – 22nd February 1913 – when journalists finally hit on the fact that Norris was in Gillespie Road.  Given that there is only one site in the street which could possibly have been turned into a football ground the obvious conclusion was reached. 

But there is one other factor that is normally forgotten in the telling of this tale but which gives a real insight into Henry Norris.

Neither Norris nor the club bought the land in February 1913 – the land was leased from the College.  According to the terms of the lease, at the end of the lease the College could ask for the land back IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE if it wanted to end the agreement.  In other words Norris and Arsenal were taking an almighty (again, excuse my phraseology) gamble.

Everything spent on the stadium could well be money thrown away if the College decided to ask for the ground back.  In such a case Norris and Arsenal would need to remove the grandstand and terracing, the offices and everything else, to return the arena to its original state upon handover.

But fortunately for us all, it never came to that. Ultimately, Arsenal bought the land, and it became Arsenal’s home, until the next move, just round the corner.

21 February 2006

In the seven games from 21 January to 14 February 2006 Arsenal recorded two wins, four defeats, one draw.  And one of those wins was not enough, because although Arsenal beat Wigan at home 2-1 in the league up, Arsenal went out of the competition on away goals, after the aggregate was 2-2.

Arsenal were now fifth in the league – so not even heading for a Champions League place.  We were four points behind Tottenham in fourth, and 10 points behind Liverpool in third. 

In the Champions League we were about to play Real Madrid away – and no English club had ever won there.

Even our famed goalscoring record was taking a beating as we had scored 13 fewer than both Chelsea and Manchester United, the top two teams in the league.

So the game on 21 February 2006 did not look a very exciting prospect: playing Real Madrid away.    And yet despite all the prognostications of the media and the gloom among supporters after the poor run of league form  Arsenal beat Real Madrid 0-1 away in the Champions League – the first English club to win there.  Henry scored.

But even that amazing victory did not lift the gloom for in the next match Arsenal lost to Blackburn Rovers.

However on 4 March recovery started with a 4-0 away win at Fulham, which set things up nicely for the home tie with Real Madrid.  A goalless draw is not normally something to write home about (if you see what I mean) but on this day that was all we needed and Arsenal went through.

There were 17 games of the season left.  Arsenal only lost two of them; away to Manchester United and the Champions League final having knocked out Juventus and Villareal along the way.

We came in fourth, two points ahead of Tottenham, and although there was gloom at the defeat in the Champions League final, we still had that memory of the defeat of Real Madrid.  And the look of dismay on Tottenham faces.  They had not come above fifth since 1990, and they were so sure that this would be their year.  They came in fifth.

You will find a video of the Champions League game against Real Madrid on the AISA Arsenal History Society site today.

20 February 1933

On this day the Management Committee of the Football League announced that it had given Arsenal FC “permission” to wear shirts including “white collars and cuffs.” 

That may seem strange, but such was the stranglehold that the Management Committee retained over all matters, permission was indeed necessary for everything.  Any club defying the Committee risked being kicked out of the League.

However just having permission from the Committee was not enough, because having gained permission to use a new shirt design, the club then had to get the shirts made and it wasn’t until 4 March 1933 that the club actually appeared in the new shirts.

In these days, what we now call the kit was called a “costume” or a “three piece suit” as one of the papers reported it as being.  The new design was, it is said, created by Herbert Chapman, as part of his constant desire to make Arsenal different from every other club.  The first set of “costumes” were made in a factory in Nottingham and reported in the Daily Mirror on 4 March 1933.

Indeed the fact that the story made the national press reveals just how unusual it was in those days for a club to change its colours or indeed its kit design at all.

Unfortunately the change of design did not bring Arsenal much luck on the pitch as in the first four matches wearing the new style the club lost three and drew one match.

Tom Whittaker, writing about the change years later said that Chapman always held the view that half the battle of winning was to be well-dressed, although it is not quite clear why having white sleeves makes one more well-dressed than having red sleeves.

He also states that the idea for different coloured sleeves from the shirt came to Chapman after he was told about the idea of different coloured sleeves from the shirt being put to the chairman of Chelsea, who rejected the notion immediately.  Chapman however saw the possibilities and took it up.

19 February 1916

Bob Benson tragically died aged 33 on this day during a wartime game at Highbury on this day.  He had arrived as a spectator but was persuaded to play as Arsenal were a man short.

Robert William Benson, known as “Bob” was born in Whitehaven in Cumbria on 9 February 1883.

His first club is recorded as Shankhouse of the Northern Alliance, and then Shalwell (a district near Newcastle – although I can find no record of the club), and Wikipedia suggests that at the same time he worked as a coal-miner.  He signed as a professional for Newcastle in 1902.

He played only one game for Newcastle (v Liverpool) and left for Southern League Southampton in 1904 for a fee of £150, playing for the club for the first time on 1 October 1904 in a draw with Brighton.

Descriptions of him include “snuffing out [the opposition’s] moves with his sense of anticipation“.

He was also given the job of taking penalties, and clearly had a great sense of humour since he apparently adopted the process of running the full length of the pitch before kicking the ball.  But unfortunately, the joke turned a little sour as he kept missing, and so was relieved of his duty as penalty taker after a while.

He played 19 times for Southampton before leaving to move to Sheffield United (then in the First Division) for a fee once again of £150.

This time he did stay – for eight years.  He also got his penalty taking sorted for he scored 20 during his time in Yorkshire ,playing for them 283 times.

He also played in the England tour of South Africa in 1910 and for England in a full international in February 1913 against Ireland.

And so to Woolwich Arsenal – whom he joined in November 1913 after the move to the north of the river.  He played away to Bristol City on 29 November 1913.  It was a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 15,000.

He played at left back but for the final game of the 1914-15 season (the last match before the war and his last match for the club) he played at centre forward with HE King moving to number 8 in a patchwork end-of-season game. He scored twice in a 7-0 win at Highbury.  (There are suggestions elsewhere that he made a number of appearances at centre forward, but in league terms it was just the one).

The Football League was suspended in 1915 for the duration but The London Combination was founded in 1915 in order to provide some entertainment for those still in the country.  Normal rules of registration etc were abolished and players played where there was a vacancy and a game.

Bob Benson went to work at Royal Arsenal when the league stopped and on 19 February 1916 he went to a London Combination match between Arsenal and Reading at Highbury.  Joe Shaw did not make it to the game, and Benson took his place at the last minute, although he had not been playing since that match against Forest.    He collapsed on the pitch in the second half and died in the changing rooms a little later of a burst blood vessel.  He was just 33.

It is said he was buried wearing his Arsenal shirt, and a testimonial was held for him against the Rest of London.  5000 turned up and the proceeds went to his widow.

He played 54 first class games for Arsenal over the two second division seasons.

18 February 1978: Arsenal v Walsall

This would hardly be a game to be remembered, for it was a routine win against lower league opposition, in which Stapleton. Macdonald and Sunderland scored.

But two things marked it out. 

First it was an FA Cup match en route to Terry Neill’s first cup final.  Stapleton. Macdonald and Sunderland scored and 43,789 turned up to watch.

But second, it was the first meeting of the two clubs since Walsall beat Arsenal in 1933, a result which meant Walsall had won seven games against Arsenal, while Arsenal had only beaten Walsall five times.

The tie in 1978 seemed just about as easy as a fifth found tie could be, but the build up to this cup match gave many Arsenal fans the jitters.  The recent scores were…

  • 4 February 1978: Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 1 (Football League)
  • 7 February 1978: Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1 (Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st leg)
  • 11 February 1978: Leicester City 1 Arsenal 1 (Football League)
  • 14 February 1978: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0 (Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd leg)

So no win in the four games, and in addition Arsenal were out of the League Cup at the penultimate round.

Thus we come to Walsall.

Stories of Herbert Chapman’s last ever FA cup game (which the defeat to Walsall turned out to be) were dragged out ahead of the match largely because the press and broadcasters were too lazy to think of anything new to fill their time and their column inches.  But three goals in 12 minutes before half time made it certain that there would be no repeats, not least because throughout Sunderland showed why Hudson couldn’t get into the side.

For the first goal Price turned the ball to Stapleton who shot at the near post.  For the second Rix chipped a corner to O’Leary who flicked to Macdonald to score.  Sunderland, who ran much of the match, got the third from outside the area and Stapleton the fourth from the near post.  For the visitors Buckley made it 132 goals in 250 games and Walsall left counting their financial take and hoping for promotion from the third division.

The team

Jennings, Rice, Nelson, Price, O’Leary, Young, Brady, Sunderland, Macdonald, Stapleton, Rix.

Scorers: Stapleton (2), Sunderland, Macdonald.

Interestingly none of the media made any attempt to get the real story of Arsenal’s defeat to Walsall – the array of young players that Chapman put out on that day, the fact that he then transferred several of them out of the club immediately, the condition of the ground with the fans spilling onto the pitch throughout the game…   It was all in the papers of the day, and makes interesting historical reading, but of course it would have meant the journalists doing a bit of research, and that would never do.

If you are interested there is a lot more about the Arsenal defeat to Walsall, and what happened after, on the Arsenal History Society website.

17 February 1999

1998/9 was an almost season; an up and down season for Arsenal.  Having won the double the season before, this time there were no trophies with Arsenal ending up second to Man U (one point and one goal behind) and going out in the FA cup semi-final, also to Man U.   However we did compete in the Champions League for the first time since it gained its new title, but there again didn’t get past the group stages.

By the standards of the previous season therefore, a failure, by the standards of the Rioch and final Graham seasons, a stunning success.

1998/9 started unpromisingly, with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest on the opening day followed by four draws (0-0 away to Liverpool, 0-0 home to Charlton, 0-0 away to Chelsea, 1-1 away to Leicester.)  We had a goal scoring problem.

A 3-0 victory over the eventual Champions on 20 September 1998 made things look better, but then we had a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday – the game in which Di Canio pushed the referee over and got a suspension for his pains.

It was an incident I remember well having been at the game with my pal Roger – I seem to recall it taking several moments for the ref to go down as he tried to keep his balance, and the tackling throughout the match from Wednesday was not so much industrial as primeval.

The result left Arsenal in 9th – seven points behind the leaders Aston Villa. But by the end of the year things were settling down as Arsenal went on a run in which they did not let in a goal.

  • 26 December 1998: Arsenal 1 West Ham 0
  • 28 December 1998: Charlton 0 Arsenal 1
  • 9 January 1999: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0
  • 16 January 1999: Nottingham Forest 0 Arsenal 1
  • 31 January 1999: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0
  • 6 February 1999: West Ham 0 Arsenal 4

By this time the table was looking better – I have extended it to the top 11 so you can see where Tottenham had got to by this time – we were five points off the leaders (Man U) with a game in hand although a far inferior goal difference.  Tottenham were in their customary mid-table 11th.

So the match on 17 February was an important test of our revival, and although the run of not letting in goals ended, but the result was considered very satisfactory given Man U’s position at the top of the league.

In this game Kanu made his league debut, and set up the goal in a manner that suggested that the low scoring that had marked so much of the early season might be coming to an end.

For the goal Ray Parlour passed to Kanu who did that thing where he looked like he had all the time in the world, sent the ball to Anelka and he scored from close range.   The United reply came from Andy Cole – who was always referred to in relation to Arsenal as “the one that got away”.

With the score at 1-1 Arsenal continued to counter attack, Seaman was superb, and United put on the pressure, eventually getting one of the penalties that they always seemed to get at home during that Ferguson era.  Johnsen took the ball on the edge of the area, Parlour stood his ground, Johnsen went down under seemingly no contact, and Dwight Yorke strode up full of bravado to take the penalty and push Man U to victory.

He missed the goal totally.  He also missed a sitter later on.

Man U then added their standard Plan B of having eight or nine player surround the referee for several decisions – the ref showing weakness by just flapping his arms and walking backwards.  It didn’t give confidence in his ability to run the game, nor in any sort of even handed approach on the part of referees.

I recall being hugely relieved at the end to have got away with a point.  It meant we were still in touching distance.  And Kanu did indeed look promising.

As for the results, between 20 December and 5 May we didn’t lose a single game.  Not a bad run.

We finished the league in second, but had clearly established ourselves as one of the two top clubs in the League.

A list of today’s Arsenal anniversaries and a video of one of today’s games from history are on the AISA Arsenal History society website.

16 February 1886

On this day Andy Ducat – one of the greatest Woolwich Arsenal stars and perhaps the greatest of them all, was born in London.

Early in his life his family moved to Southend where he played for local clubs Westcliff Athletic and Southend Athletic. have reported him as coming from Southend United – but I think Athletic is right.   Athletic continued until 1906 when they were wound up, and a completely new club – Southend United – which had nothing to do with the old club, was formed.

Andy joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1905 and made his debut in February 1905 in a 2-0 home win against Blackburn Rovers in front of 8000 fans.   He started out as a centre forward but later moved to right half (number 4 in the old style formation) and stayed for seven years, scoring 21 goals in 188 matches. 

He was the first of the Woolwich Arsenal players to leave at the height of his ability with Arsenal to go to a bigger club – Aston Villa.  Woolwich were a mid-table side when he left as part of a further attempt at cost cutting by Henry Norris after he had rescued the club from extinction in 1910.   So after being a present in almost every game in 1911-12 Arsenal sold him for £1000 (a huge sum at the time). 

And a year later, just as they prepared to leave Plumstead for the last time, Arsenal  were relegated.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Andy Ducat thereafter.  In September 1912 Ducat broke his leg in a game against Manchester City. As a result he missed the FA Cup Final against Sunderland in 1913.

However in 1920 something quite bizarre happened.  Ducat was still at Villa and the club reached the cup final where they played Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.   According to stories, Jack Howcraft, the ref, entered the Villa dressing-room before the game and warned the Villa player Frank Barson that he would be sent off for any indiscretion.

This might seem bizarre, but according to one source, “On one occasion Barson’s hard tackling resulted in a seven month ban; after a game, he often needed a police escort to protect him from angry opposition fans.”  So on that basis, and given the reverence with which the FA Cup final liked to be seen, maybe the story is true.

According to the authors of “The Essential Aston Villa,” “the normally unflappable Barson was taken aback and his performance was uncharacteristically cautious for much of the game.”  Villa won 1-0 and Ducat got his cup winners’ medal.    In the same year (by which time he was 34) he got three more England caps.

Having gone to Fulham in 1921 he stopped playing professionally in 1924 and succeeded Phil Kelso as Fulham manager but his two seasons there were not a success, and he then moved to Casuals playing amateur football.

But he continued his career as a cricketer and played alongside Tom Hayward and Jack Hobbs.  In 1928, he made 994 runs in less than six weeks, including centuries four successive matches.

After retiring from cricket in 1931, Ducat became cricket coach at Eton as well as being a sports reporter before he died in 1942.  It is said he died while playing a cricket match at Lords – according to the morbid cricket historians who note these things he is the only man to have died during a match at Lord’s Cricket Ground.