Arsenal’s Donald Slade: More questions than answers where Norris is involved!

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By Tony Attwood

Donald Slade is the final member of the team that played the last ever game under the name Woolwich Arsenal FC.

Slade is one of those few players whose lives at other clubs is well documented but whose time at Arsenal seems something of a mystery.

Much of the information below outside of the time at Arsenal is lifted by the Wiki site on the player, with all the issues that this may or may not entail.  However it is an article with a lot of references, which gives one hope.

Slade was born in Southampton and joined Southampton in 1910 who were a Southern League club at the time.  He made his first league appearance in 1911, but spent most of the 1910/11 season in the reserves.

Now we get to the interesting bit.  Here’s what Wiki says, (8 November 2010)

“Frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities, Slade requested a transfer, but this was denied by the Southampton directors. Eventually, after an appeal to the Football Association, the transfer request was granted, and Slade moved on a free transfer to Lincoln City in August 1912.

What is interesting is that there could have been no such appeal if Slade had been with a Football League team since they had the retain and transfer system which gave the club the absolute right to hold onto the player for as long as they wish, even without paying him.

I had thought that by 1910 the Southern League had come into line with this system, but the FA appeal would suggest that a refusal to release a player could be overturned even at this time.

And yet, if the Southern League still had its own rules for players (which were at least initially much more liberal than the FL rules) Slade did a strange thing – he went to a Football League club (Lincoln) on a free transfer.  Again this is odd – surely a player who was scoring lots of goals, even in the Southern League for the reserve side, ought to have got some sort of transfer fee.

Slade stayed at Lincoln until December 1913, when he was sold to Woolwich Arsenal for the astronomical £1000 (astronomical for a young player).  But then he only stayed until May 1914, making 12 league appearances and scoring four goals in the first Highbury season.

Then (and this is even odder) he moved to Fulham.

So what was Norris up to?  Was Fulham after him all the time?  Norris owned both clubs so he could easily make Arsenal pay, and then ship the man on – if (for example) he wanted to reduce Arsenal’s tax liability while giving Fulham a good player.

He played the final season before the suspension of football at Fulham, and then worked in Southampton during the war before moving on to Scotland where he is reported to have played with Dumbarton, Ayr and Dundee United.

He retired in 1923, running a series of public houses before retiring to Southampton where he died in 1980 aged 91.

Slade appears in a Woolwich Arsenal picture on this page – scroll down to find the picture with the title “Arsenal Woolwich 1913”.

Here’s the full line up of the last game

1: Goal J Lievesley

2: Right back: J Shaw

3: Left Back: R W Benson

4: Right Half: GM Grant

5: Centre half – P R Sands The first captain of The Arsenal at Highbury

6: Left half:  A Graham

7: Outside right:  J Rutherford – the oldest man ever to play for Arsenal

8:  Inside right: J Flanagan: Pat Flanagan: a man besmirched by a false story

9: Centre forward:  S J Stonley

10: Inside Right: D Slade

11: Outside Right: C H Lewis


Forget the present, just buy a present, and live in the past: Making the Arsenal: available from but for a signed copy dedicated to whoever you want just order from the publishers (follow the link) and add details of the dedication wanted to your order.

Untold Arsenal Index: silly stuff, serious stuff, and stuff

The very end of Woolwich Arsenal. Read all about it.

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