Hindsight is so wonderful. We can sit here in the middle of summer, and look at the preparations of Woolwich Arsenal FC for the new season, 100 years ago, and know what happened.
The longest serving player lining up to play in the new season of 1910/11 was Roderick John McEachrane known as Roddy. He probably holds the records for the greatest number of games as an outfield player without ever scoring once – 313 league games – and played 346 games in all.
At a time when players came and went through clubs several times a season, Roddy McEachrane was remarkable – he played for three clubs in all, the last of which was Woolwich Arsenal for whom he played from 1902 to the 1913/14 season, although he stayed on the books until April 1915 (when football stopped for the duration of hostilities). 13 seasons.
He was particularly noteable for being just 5′ 6″ tall – Arshavin we might like to note is not 5’4″ as per the song, but is actually 5’8″.
Roddy was born in 1878 (the exact date does not appear on any records) in Inverness and played for Inverness Thistle before moving to London where he worked at Thames Iron Works and naturally played for that club (who became West Ham during his time there) in the Southern League second division.
WHU records show hims has playing virtually every match over that period and despite his subsequent lack of goals for Woolwich Arsenal he got six for Thames Iron Works / WHU in 113 games before moving to Woolwich.
McEachrane played match after match for Arsenal, clocking up between 28 and 38 games almost every year for eight years – including playing in two cup semi-finals until he played his last game in 1913 having put in two appearances for the injured McKinnon.
When he arrived he was brought in as the new number 6 and started with an away game against Preston on September 6th 1902 – a 2-2 draw in front of 9,000 people. He ended his career on 22 Novmeber 1913 with a 1-0 home win (at Highbury) against Birmingham in front of 25,000. Both his first and last games were Division II games, but in between he played in the promotion season that took us to Division I for the first time, and those two cup semi-finals again The Wednesday and Newcastle.
He thus played under Bradshaw, Kelso and Morrell, the three key managers in the whole of the Woolwich Arsenal period, and his two final games place him on the wall of honour at the Emirates as one of the Arsenal elite.
Woolwich Arsenal: the index to the site
Making the Arsenal: the book
Untold Arsenal: modern Arsenal day by day