Joseph Joshua Powell known as Joe was Woolwich Arsenal’s captain for their first ever league match in 1893 at the age of 23.
He was born in 1870 and died on November 29, 1896 after playing against Small Heath just two weeks earlier.
Joe was born in Bristol, and played initially for Walsall and the 80th Staffordshire Regiment. He played in a match against Woolwich Arsenal, for the Regiment in 1892 and the club persuaded him to leave the army and turn pro.
During the first season he played in all the matches except a couple at the end of February and the start of March, and continued to be a fundamental player in the side, always picked unless injured.
He scored a single goal in the first season, in the 12-0 win in the Cup over Ashford at home on 10 October. The crowd was 3,000 (and to put this in perspective the highest all season home or away was the home game against Notts County, where 13,000 turned up.)
It is reported that he was injured in a United League match against Kettering – and here I need some help. What was the United League? The game was against Kettering, then as now a club some way outside the league, so maybe it was a reserve match? But if so, what was he doing playing in that?
He broke his arm, got tetanus, had the arm amputated and subsequently died aged 26. It is said on the Spartacus site that his injury was so bad that one of the first aid men who went to help him, fainted. But we must remember that the level of first aid was very limited at the time at football matches, for their are stories of an injured player at Highbury being wheeled to hospital in a wheelbarrow.
Joe’s record was 86 league games with 1 goal, and 6 cup games, with one further goal.
This article is the second in a new series on the players who played for Woolwich Arsenal in their first ever season in the football league.
Other articles so far…
Charlie Williams who became the first keeper to score direct at the other end, and who went on to manage internationally.
Entering the league in 1893 – the background and the full team list