A most talented but tainted footballer

by Tony Attwood

We are used to contemporary reports appearing about footballers who despite their talent are troubled souls, having disputes with their club, being involved in dubious activities that bring them to the attention of the law, leaving clubs after a row, going absent without permission from the club…

But few can equal Henry Boyd in terms of having personal demons – and how desperately sad it was that he was a man who, when on the pitch, was the absolute master scoring.  For in 79 League and friendly games for Woolwich Arsenal he scored 80 goals to become Arsenal’s top goal scorer of all time on a goals per game ratio.

We were very fortunate to have the help of the writers of Scottish Sport History in gathering data on Boyd’s extraordinary, and ultimately desperately sad short life.   On our page on him you will find first our own review from an Arsenal perspective, but then underneath that, the more comprehensive view of the player’s life from the aforementioned Scottish Sport History, published with their kind permission.

Even if you normally have little interest in these players from the earliest days of Arsenal I would urge you to go the our page on Boyd and then, if nothing more, go down to the headline “HENRY BOYD – A TALENTED BUT TAINTED FOOTBALLER” and read on.  It is a remarkable, and troubling, tale of a most talented man.

Here are today’s anniversaries, starting with Henry Boyd…

6 October 1894: Henry Boyd scored in the 5-2 win over Lincoln to continue his all time record breaking run, and exactly reversed the score between the clubs on 1 September 1894.

6 October 1894: Luton’s first match in the Southern League.  They have claimed to have been a professional team before Arsenal, and thus the first in the south of England, but records suggest only two or at most three of their players were professional in 1891, by which time Arsenal had a fully professional first team.

6 October 1898: Preston beat Stoke 7-0, with Jimmy Ross scoring four.  When in December 1935 Ted Drake created the all time record of scoring seven in one game the story was put about that Drake’s achievement was not a first and that Ross had done the same on this day.  It was a complete fabrication. How strange that someone should bother to make it up just to knock Arsenal!

6 October 1900: Archie Cross league debut: a 1-1 away draw with Blackpool.  He played just three games at right back that season, but started out the following season as a first choice player in that position.

6 October 1906: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 took Arsenal to the top of the league for the very first time ever, and this despite a 4-1 defeat to Bury in the second match of the season.

6 October 1910: Having played in the Scottish Cup Final in the spring, Jackie Chalmers was signed by Woolwich Arsenal on this day and made his debut just two days later on the 8th for the away game with Bradford City.

6 October 1916: As the horrors of trench warfare unfolded an Army Order was issued removing the requirement for soldiers to wear moustaches, reputedly as some men were shaving their upper lips in order to avoid being sent to the trenches.

6 October 1919: Tommy Lawton was born in Farnworth, Lancashire.  He signed for his first club, Burnley in 1935.  In 1937 at the age of 17 he moved on to Everton for £6500 playing next to Dixie Dean.  He quickly made it into the England team.

6 October 1922: Sir Henry Norris wrote in the Fulham Chronicle on his withdrawal from politics explaining he was not willing to accede to the demands of his local party. This event is helpful to note, in that his attitude was always to walk away when he felt he was wronged; exactly as he subsequently did from Arsenal and from football.

6 October 1934: Stoke City 2 Arsenal 2 with Bowden and Hapgood returning for the game.  Stoke were fifth in the league, just one point behind Arsenal, having won all three home games thus far, scoring 12 and conceding one.  Arsenal had not yet won away from home; Bastin got both the goals taking his league total to seven in ten.

6 October 1948: Arsenal 4 Manchester United 3.  Charity Shield match played at Highbury with a crowd of 31,000.  Lewis got two, Rooke and Jones one each.

6 October 1956: Cliff Holton became the first player since Jack Lambert to score more than three goals for Arsenal in a single game.  The result was Arsenal 7 Manchester City 3. Holton (4), Evans Bloomfield and Haverty got the goals.

6 October 1962: Tommy Caton born in Liverpool.  He started out with Man City in 1978 and played in the cup final aged 18.   By the time he was 19 he had played 100 first division games, and although obviously not a goal scorer by trade he did score two against Arsenal on 4 December 1982.

6 October 1962: Tottenham 4 Arsenal 4 (Court 2, McLeod and Strong).  61,749 attended the game. The week before, Tottenham had beaten Nottingham Forest 9-2, and in this game went three up in 26 minutes.  Arsenal eventually went 4-2 down but battled back to get the point.

6 October 1964: Debut for Frank McLintock – a 0-3 home defeat to Nottingham Forest in a run of four defeats in five matches.  McLintock however was not blamed for the problems and took over the No 4 shirt from Geoff Strong for most of the rest of the season.

6 October 1966: Niall Quinn born.  He played first for Manortown United and after an unsuccessful trial at Fulham he signed professional forms with Arsenal in 1983.

6 October 1970: Arsenal 1 Luton 0 in League Cup.  David Court played for Luton.  Arsenal went out to Crystal Palace in the next round after a replay.  But when thinking of 1970/71, no one thinks of the league cup!

6 October 1971: Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0, in the league cup, 34,071 in the crowd. Wilson had nothing to do other than contemplate going back into teaching.   Radford scored to celebrate his recall to the England squad, Kennedy, Graham and Simpson scored the others.

6 October 1973: Liam Brady played his first match for Arsenal as a sub in a 1-0 victory against Birmingham City.  Kennedy scored Arsenal’s goal. See also here

6 October 1979: Arsenal 0 Manchester City 0.  34,688 in the crowd. In the subsequent press conference Allison praised Rix and said he should be in the England squad.  No one talked about the game: it was too poor to mention.

6 October 1981: Arsenal lost 0-1 to Sheffield United in the League Cup.  Fortunately there was a second leg to come, which Arsenal won 2-0 in extra time.

6 October 1984: Arsenal returned to the top of the league with a 1-0 win over Everton, Charlie Nicholas scoring a penalty.  It was one of five consecutive wins.

6 October 2002: Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-1 to make it 7 wins and 2 draws in 9 – and 30 consecutive unbeaten in all – a new Premier League record.  It was the last game of the sequence – Arsenal lost the next match.

6 October 2012: Olivier Giroud scored his first Arsenal goal in 3-1 away win against WHU. He also set up the second goal for Walcott.  Santi Cazorla got the third.

6 October 2013: The Arsenal History Society presented a 10 year comparative analysis of the first six games of the season in order to overcome hype about best and worst starts to a season, which was the chatter of the day.  After a mass of negative publicity at the start of the 2019/20 season it was felt necessary to return to the issue yet again.

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