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Stephen Stonley: continuing to score as the Arsenal were relegated

By Tony Attwood

Stephen J Stonley [but see the note in the comments about his middle name] was a centre forward, born in Sunderland in 1891.  He played for…

Seaham. I only have the information that Stonley played for “Seaham” but it appears there are several teams now with the Seaham name, however none date back to the early 20th century.  Seaham is a small town in County Durham a few miles south of Sunderland.

Northampton Town at this time were playing in the Southern League and making regular forays into the early rounds of the FA Cup.

Newcastle City is another oddity for me.  Newcastle United, when formed from the amalgamation of two other clubs, apparently considered Newcastle City as a name, but rejected it – although I am not sure why.  Was there another such club around?  Did another one form?  A junior side called Newcastle City does now exist, but is of recent formation.

Whatever way we look at it, Stonley had no league experience before being signed by Woolwich Arsenal in 1913, starting with a 0-0 draw against Oldham on February 8th.  He played for us during the rest of the 1912-13 season (remember no transfer windows in those days) starting 10 league games and getting 1 goal – a poor return for a classic number 9.

But in 1913-14 he scored 13 goals in 28 league games – a good return from a player who had never played in the league before.

And yet he then left and went to Brentford.  They were already at Griffin Park and playing in the Southern League First Division, before going down in 1912 to the Second Division.  Did Arsenal kick out one of the only two men who could score goals for the club?  (The other was J Flannagan, an inside forward who got 12 goals in 24 games).

Or did Stonley fancy the easier life in the Southern League?  Or maybe he just didn’t fancy north London.  I have no more information.

Here’s the team, for the last, desperate and sad final game at Woolwich, with links thus far.

The best refereeing we have seen all season

3 comments to Stephen Stonley: continuing to score as the Arsenal were relegated

  • Nairobi Gooner

    I’m so stumped and to think I always tell my mates that Arsenal is the only team in the league to never have been relegated 🙁 . Guess Now I know better!!

  • Tony Attwood

    Nairobi – technically you can say “Arsenal” have never been relegated because in 1912/13 we were “Woolwich Arsenal”! We came bottom that year, and played the first two years at Highbury in the second division, but were then elected back into the first division after the break for the War, when the league was expanded.

    That promotion is covered in some detail elsewhere on the site and is a famous moment in the history of Arsenal.

  • Andy Kelly

    Stephen Stonley was actually born in 1889 and had no middle name.

    He married a widow in Plumstead in 1919. One of the witnesses at his wedding was Charlie Lewis. Stonley had stopped playing by this time and was a bricklayer.

    He was sold shortly after Harry King arrived from Northampton, so it looks like Arsenal thought King was a better forward.

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