Sammy Haden: the winger who crossed for Buchan’s first goal

By Tony Attwood

Samson Haden, appears to have been known as Sammy (which is how both Charlie Buchan and Bernard Joy refer to him) although for some reason Wikipedia want to call him Sam – as does one of the Peterborough United web sites I’ve consulted.

He was born in Royston, Barnsley on 17 July 1903 although there are other sources which quote 17 January 1902.  You will see a little discussion of this in the comments below – but I’m now going with 17 July 1903.

He started his working life as a miner before playing for Castleford Town in March 1922, and was brought to Arsenal by Leslie Knighton. tell us that he played at first in the London Combination (the reserve league, the predecessor of the Football Combination), where he scored 23 times in 67 appearances – a fair return for an outside left.

Samson Haden broke into Arsenal’s first team in the 1923/24 season and played regularly but was dropped or injured and only got one game in 1924/5 until returning on 28 February 1925 for the 0-2 away defeat to Tottenham.

This was the sixth successive defeat of Arsenal, after which Knighton shook the team up.with Woods Ramsey and Toner all losing their places.  Haden kept his place however, and Arsenal won only four of their remaining games that season but it was just enough to avoid relegation by coming 20th out of 22.  Knighton was sacked.

After giving Toner two games at the start of 1925/6 Herbert Chapman restored Haden at number 11 and as a result he had the honour of providing the pass for the first goal that Charlie Buchan scored for Arsenal.  This was in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on 12 September 1925.

This was particularly notable because Buchan was playing on a contract that gave Sunderland (from whom he had been transferred) £100 for every goal he scored, and as Buchan recounts in his autobiography, Haden’s ball was probably going in, but Buchan just tapped it over the line – thus costing the club the money.

On 3 February 1926 however Sammy Haden broke his leg in the home match with Burnley which Arsenal lost 1-2.   The match was in a sequence of just one win and one draw in six, and things needed changing – but irrespective of this, Sammy was out of the team for the season. say that “Haden returned strongly the following season but was sold to Notts County for £1,350 in October 1927.”  However I can’t see him playing at all in the first division for Arsenal in that season.  His last game was a friendly against Corinthians on 21 September 1927 which Arsenal (or more likely Arsenal reserves) lost 0-4.

Here is his Arsenal record.

Season League games Goals
1923/4 31 3
1924/5 15 1
1925/6 25 2
1926/7 17 4
Total 88 10

Including FA Cup games he played 93 times for Arsenal, scoring 11 goals.  Here’s his overall career.

Season Team League Games Goals
? Castleford Town
1923/6 Arsenal 88 10
1927/35 Notts County 289 36
1938/46 Peterborough United 21 8
Total 398 54

Peterborough had been formed in 1934 and played around this time in Midland League.  Sammy joined Peterborough on 1 August 1938 and left on 31 May 1948.  He worked as player manager until 1946 and then continued as manager until 1948.

Sammy’s period at Peterborough was  obviously interrupted by the war hence the small number of official games over that period.    The web site Talk Football says of his leaving simply that “Haden expressed his desire to leave the club and Jack Blood took over his position.”  Why he wanted to leave or what he then did we don’t know – he was only 44 at the time.

Here’s the timeline…

  • 17 July 1903: Samson Haden born
  • 10 March 1922: Samson Haden joined from Castleford
  • 10 May 1923: First appearance of  Samson Haden
  • 21 September 1927: Last game for Samson Haden
  • 5 October 1927:  Samson Haden sold to Notts County for £1350
  • 1 August 1938: Joined Peterborough Utd as player manager
  • 31 May 1948: Left Peterborough

At that last point we lose track of him.  If you have any more information please do write in.

What makes Sammy of particular interest to us is that he was one of those players who spanned the disastrous end of Knighton era, and then was part of the start of the Chapman years.

These were his four complete seasons with Arsenal, showing also how players moved in what must have been the greatest transformation period Arsenal has ever seen.

Player Games 1923/4 Games 1924/5 Games 1925/6 Games 1926/7
  Knighton Knighton Chapman Chapman
Baker 21 32 31 23
Blyth 27 17 40 33
Brain 28 41 37
Buchan * 39 33
Butler 24 39 41 31
Cope* 11
Haden 31 15 25 17
Harper* 19 23
Hoar 19 21 16
Hulme * 15 37
John 15 39 29 41
Kennedy 29 40 16 11
Lambert* 16
Lewis 16 14 17
Mackie 31 19 35
Milne 36 32 5 6
Neil 11 16 27
Parker* 7 42
Paterson 21 1
Ramsey 11 30 16 12
Roberts* 2
Robson 42 26 9
Seddon 1 17
Woods 36 32 2

* Players brought into the club by Herbert Chapman

It is sad and frustrating when we lose track of a player as we have with Sammy – if you know of anything more that would complete the record please do write in.


The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.





3 Replies to “Sammy Haden: the winger who crossed for Buchan’s first goal”

  1. Just to confuse matters, I have him as being born at Royston, near Barnsley, on 17 July 1903. According to a book (probably the Breedon book of managers? – I never write sources down) he died in Peterborough in February 1974

  2. Dean Hayes has Royston 1902
    Lerman and Brown, who are normally very accurate indeed have Royston Barnsley 1903.

    I’m going with Lerman and Brown with 1902 as a variant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *