By Tony Attwood
The fact that we know so little about Henry Edward King is an absolute tragedy of overwhelming proportions. For he was a true hero of Arsenal, scoring 26 goals in 37 league games in one season. He also scored the first ever hat trick at Highbury on 14 November 1914 and undoubtedly played a part in the narrative that led to Arsenal’s election to the first division.
If only we knew more. And surely there must be more information available because Harry King died in 1968 (aged 81 or 82). We even know that he died in Worcester. If we could only find his grandchildren with memories of stories…
But let me stop moaning about what we don’t know and record what we do.
Henry Edward King was born in 1886 – the year of the foundation of Arsenal, in Northampton, and played centre forward. But he obviously had a connection with Worcestershire from the off since his first club is recorded as Evesham Star – a club for whom I have no details but who clearly played in the town whose name they carry.
He then went on to Worcester City who we know were founded in 1902, before moving on to Birmingham in 1907 and stayed there for two seasons before reverting to non-league football.
After playing for Crewe Alexandra and Northampton Town (where he presumably retained connections from his childhood), he joined Arsenal in April 1914, for a fee of £1000 as the new centre forward.
Arsenal had been close to promotion in 1913/14 and so in this, their second season at Highbury the aim was obviously to add to the fire power and make the final push.
And what an impact he made. 26 goals in the league and another three in the cup. And his records included the first hat trick at Highbury.
Arsenal moved to Highbury in the summer of 1913 and so 1914/15 was indeed their second season at the new ground.
In 1913/14 back in the second division for the first time since 1903/4 Arsenal came very close indeed to promotion, missing out on goal average and coming third.
And you will not be surprised to know that Arsenal got a hat trick – but that first hatrick of their time at Highbury was actually scored in an away match by Stephen Stonley on 25 December 1913, but it was scored in the away match at Bradford, which Arsenal won 2-3.
During the war Harry King was stationed with the Royal Garrison Artillery in Italy but also played in excess of 30 games for Arsenal’s wartime league side. But despite this and earlier contributions to Arsenal, Leslie Knighton, the new manager brought in by Sir Henry Norris, did not rate him, and so Arsenal’s most impressive goalscorer to date was sold to Leicester City for £900.
Perhaps for once Knighton got it right, as Harry only scored one goal in eight for his new club, and was transferred after those eight games to Brentford for whom he scored 16 in 33 games.
Here’s his record in so far as we have all the details.
Harry King in fact still holds the Club record for hat-tricks per match, scoring one every 9.75 games.
But although we know nothing of his private life, we can trace his year at the club as a league player.
- 1 September 1914. Harry’s first match: Arsenal 3 Glossop NE 0. Harry scored two.
- 19 September 1914. Match 5. Stockport 1 Arsenal 1. King got the only goal and took his total scored to seven.
- 17 October 1914. Match 9. Arsenal 2 Blackpool 0. Harry got both goals taking his total to 10.
- 14 November 1914. Harry’s first hat trick. Arsenal 6 Grimsby 0
- 2 January 1915. Harry’s second hat trick Arsenal 5 Wolverhampton 1
- 9 January 1915. Harry’s third hat trick. Arsenal 3 Merthyr T 0 FA Cup
- 24 April 1915. In his last game for the club (and Arsenal’s last before the cessation of games for the duration) Harry scored not just his fourth and final hat trick – but also a fourth goal in the biggest win of the season: Arsenal 7 Nottm F 0.
Overall he played 37 games and scored 26 in the league.
If you have any more information, please do write in.