By Tony Attwood
And so to the mystery that is David Howat. He was a left half, born in Preston on 1 October 1870 who played for Fishwick Ramblers, Preston North End, Woolwich Arsenal and Third Lanark.
His Arsenal career is recorded by the club as 1889 – 1896, and we know that he played 72 times and scored three goals.
The league record shows
- 1893/4 – 27 appearances and 1 goal; 4 FA Cup matches, 0 goals
- 1894/5 – 28 appearances and 1 goal (ever present save two games); 1 FA Cup match 0 goals
- 1895/96 – 1 appearance and 0 goals.
But trying to go further is like facing the proverbial brick wall. Fishwick was an amateur club in Preston, and although there is a working men’s club of the same name still in evidence I think the football club has gone without a trace.
Preston North End is still there, obviously, but their list of players doesn’t include anyone called David Howat, while the Third Lanark records that are on line only record details on a tiny number of players.
However we must recall that David Howat came to Arsenal aged 19, so it might well have been that prior to that he was an amateur, or simply a young reserve at Preston.
What seems to have happened is that he was a victim of what we still see in the modern game – the signing of new players, and the rise of players who were previously thought of as reserves. The change over at the end of Howat’s career was not huge, but there were new faces in the line up for the new season, as we can see below…
If we look at the team for the last league game of 1894/5 it was
Davis, Boyle, Howat
Henderson, Hare, Buchanan, O’Brian, Mortimer
And for the first league game four months later
Davis, Jenkyns, Ward
Crawford, Hare, Gordon, Buchanan, O’Brian
So he wasn’t the only player to lose his place, but lose it he did. He made his one appearance of his final season in January 1896 at left back, and that was it.
- 1: CA Williams: went on to manage Denmark and in Brazil
- 2: J Powell: Our first captain who died of injuries on the pitch
- 3: WW Jeffrey: The right back who was a keeper
- 4: D Devine: Lost to history
- 5: R Buist: I thought he caused us to go pro, but I was wrong.
- 6: D Howat: This article
- 7: D Gemmell
- 8: J Henderson
- 9: W Shaw
- 10: A Elliott
- 11: C Rooth