David Neave; played for Arsenal, went to Leyton, but saw the error of his ways

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In our series of articles about the players who made over 100 appearances for Woolwich Arsenal we come to David Neave.

David Neave was born in 1883 and played for Arsenal in two separate spells between 1904 and 1912, making 168 appearances (154 in the league) and scoring 32 goals (30 in the league).

He was born in Arbroath and started his football career with non-league Scottish clubs Forfar Athletic, Montrose and Arbroath, but in 1904 he moved south and joined Woolwich Arsenal for the first season in division I.  His first match was on December 3 away to Small Heath, in front of 20,000.  Arsenal lost 1-2.

The number 11 position David Neave held was a problem for the club that season but was eventually taken from late January onwards by RB Templeton, and the way the position was moved around the squad shows that David Neave was considered a reserve at that time.

Having only made a minor impact, he moved to Leyton FC (the non-league club, not the same as the Orient) in 1906 but came back to Arsenal on 23 December that year and played in the 2-2 draw with Preston (away) scoring both goals.   With Templeton out either through loss of form or injury, David Neave kept his place for most of the rest of the season, playing 18 league games and scoring six.  (It is interesting however that Templeton played in all six FA Cup matches up to and including the semi-final, while Neave played the league games.   Was this an early example of squad rotation, or did Neave play for Leyton in a preliminary cup round?)

Neave did however play all the FA cup games the following season, and so did get to a semi-final and played 20+ games for the next four seasons.

In 1909/10 he scored five goals and some commentators have suggested that this made him top scorer – thus reflecting on the poverty of the team that came 18th in the first division.  However to be completely accurate five players all scored five that season.

In 1910/11 he appeared 15 times and finally in 1911/12 season he played just four games.  He left at the end of the season and joined Merthyr Town who in 1909 had joined Section A of the second division of the Southern League.  This division was not a success, and not all matches were played, and Merthyr joined the regular second division the following season, winning it in 1911/12 gaining promotion to the first division.   The club ceased playing in 1934.  There’s no record I can find of what happened during this spell to David Neave, nor after his playing days were over.

Next we have Andy Ducat who has already been covered in this site.  After him came James Sharp who started for us in 1905, and I will deal with him next time.

Untold Arsenal: the index to the club today

An index of the players who played 100 or more times for Woolwich Arsenal

Making the Arsenal – the story of 1910.  Now available post free.

3 Replies to “David Neave; played for Arsenal, went to Leyton, but saw the error of his ways”

  1. He may have played for Merthyr against Arsenal in the FA Cup in January 1915. This was one of those unusual games where Merthyr were drawn at home but agreed to play at Highbury in exchange for an increase in revenue from the gate. Arsenal won 3-0 in front of 9,000.

    During the first world war he returned to Scotland. He lived in Edinburgh and played for Hearts.

    His younger brother, Andrew, played at least one game for Arseanl’s reserves in 1908-09.

    Other than that, there’s not much I can add.

  2. This newspaper article from 1915 may shed a little light on Neave’s life after leaving Merthyr:
    FOOTBALL AT PEMBROKE DOCK. A large crowd assembled at Pembroke Dock on Saturday, to witness a match between Pembroke Dock and the 3rd King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. The local team included Neave(Arsenal), Dow (Gillingham), and Taylor (Southampton), but the soldiers were a good all round team, and won by 4 goals to 2, all scored by Bandsman Jones, their centre.

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