McNichol and Jackson. The original Arsenal regular back two

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Duncan McNichol

Moving on to the third part of the survey of players who played over 100 times for Woolwich Arsenal we have Duncan McNichol, a right back who played for the club between 1899 and 1903 making 112 appearances (101 in the league) scoring one goal.

He was born in Dumbartonshire in 1876 and played for St Bernard’s FC (originally 3rd Edinburgh rifle Volunteers) in Edinburgh – a club that folded in 1943.

In 1895 St Bernard’s won the Scottish Cup.  But they were the smallest of three Edinburgh sides and so became a feeder club for others – particularly in England.

Duncan played 30 games in each of his first two seasons, then 20 and 21 in the next two – a formidable record, but injury and new incoming players meant that he was at risk of being edged out, and so moved to Aberdeen in October 1903.  He became captain but was injured in 1905 and stopped playing.

James (“Jimmy”) Jackson

What is interesting is that both these 100+ players made their debut for Arsenal in the same match against Leicester Fosse on 2 September 1899.   He played until 1905, making 204 appearances and scoring 1 goal (183 appearances in the league).  What’s more they played left back and right back – the original solid Arsenal back line (there were only two rear defenders at this time – the central defender playing further up the pitch with the midfield).

Jimmy was born in Lanarkshire, but the family moved to Australia when he was two. His clubs are listed as

  • Hamilton Academical
  • Elmstown Rosebuds,
  • Newton Thistle
  • Cambusland
  • Rangers
  • Newcastle United
  • Woolwich Arsenal
  • Leyton
  • West Ham United
  • Rangers
  • Greenock Morton

Elmstown is not mentioned in most lists of the clubs played for, and there’s nothing on the internet about them but Dean Hayes has them listed in his biography.

His first major role in football was with Newcastle between 1897 and 1899 (they were promoted in 1898), before he moved to Arsenal as a left back or wing half.  In each of his six seasons he played between 29 and 33 league games.

He left in 1905 to become player-manager at Leyton FC (not the Orient, but the other Leyton).  They were a club with a chequered history, who having started in 1868 then stopped playing in the late 1890s, only to start up again, and get promotion to the Southern League Division II for 1905/6.  Leyton came second and got promoted to the first division of the Southern League (along with Crystal Palace).

So given this success it is strange that Jimmy left the club went first to West Ham, and then back to Rangers in 1906.  After that he became a blacksmith, although he played again for Morton in 1911.

His son James played over 200 games for Liverpool and his son Archie played for Sunderland and Tranmere.  A nephew also called Archie played test cricket for Australia.

Next up Mathew Thomson

Untold untold’s

And what’s been done in the dim and distant

Making the Arsenal

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