Towards the end of February 100 years ago the word began to go around that despite all their problems Woolwich Arsenal did indeed have at least one terrific young player.
He was 17 years old and playing in the reserves. There is a report of a match between the Reserves and Croydon Common in the London League which Woolwich Arsenal won 3-1 . Charlie Buchan scored one of the goals.
There are records of Buchan playing at least three games from the reserves and of him training twice a week as an amateur – which was fairly common in the build up to singing professional forms.
But the story is that what happened at the end of February 1910 is that Buchan handed the club a bill of 11 shillings (55p) for his travel costs to and from the ground. The club refused to reimburse him. As a result, Buchan refused to play any more games for the club.
Charlie Buchan then played for Northfleet in the Kent League, until footballing scouts became aware of him and Bury offered him wages of £3 a week to sign professional.
At this stage, Henry Norris became involved and tried to get Buchan to go to Fulham. Norris told Buchan he could be a teacher (which he wanted to be) and a footballer. Norris offered him £1 10s a week but Buchan wanted £2, and the deal fell through.
After that Buchan turned up on the books at Leyton in the Southern League. The local paper reported that Buchan managed to get £3 a week at Leyton and at the same time as playing did teacher training at a nearby college. That was significantly more than Fulham offered, and he was playing in a lower league.
The Leyton files show Buchan first played versus Plymouth Argyle in September 1909 and played regularly thereafter. Reports suggested he was the best thing to happen to Leyton for years.
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