Arsenal’s first foreign player, and Arsenal’s smallest squad

By Tony Attwood

In writing the Arsenal Uncovered notes for the club programme this season, I find I am getting myself into areas where I think I know the answer, and then don’t.

If you can help, I’d be grateful.

Arsenal’s first foreign player. Of course there’s an issue of definition here, but taking it at its narrowest finding Scottish players is a doddle, and the rest of the UK is not so hard: I have found Dick Roose from Wales who played in the 1911/12 season,  and Joesph Toner from Northern Ireland who joined us in 1919.   But the first truly non-British player was I think Frank Ransom from Ireland in 1903, and the first from outside the British Isles was Jack Butler who also joined in 1910 – he was from Sri Lanka.

That’s as far as I have got.  If you have anyone earlier or any special insights into these people do let me know.

As for Arsenal’s smallest squad, I am wondering if that was in the 1970/1 double season: 16 players in the FA Cup and League campaign including subs.

This is complex of course because of the recent approach of using reserves and youth players in the League Cup, and even Euro games sometimes, but if we excluded them, have we ever run a smaller squad through one season?

Do let me know if you have any thoughts on this – especially if you have info on anyone who was “more foreign” than Jack Butler.  Jack was born overseas, but to English parents, so although under modern rules would have qualified to play for a country outside the UK he would have counted himself British.


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6 Replies to “Arsenal’s first foreign player, and Arsenal’s smallest squad”

  1. Hugh Cassidy played a couple of first team games in the 1890s. He was Irish. He came over and joined the Hussars and made is debut for Arsenal aged 34 or 35. He married the sister of future Arsenal stalwart, Charlie Lewis.

    The first proper foreigner that I know of was an Egyptian named Ahmed Fahmy who played a season in the reserves in the early 1920s.

  2. The 1968-69 squad also only had 16 players. George Johnston’s 3 appearances were all as substitute.

  3. Whoever Arsenal’s first “truly” “foreign” player was, I’m sure the great-grandfathers of the Wenger Out Brigade were whining about him.

  4. Andy I was trying to respect the fact that you were on holiday by not bothering you with that question. Hope the holiday is going ok.

  5. Hi Guys,

    I am DaGooner or Red_Quadrant on Twitter. Thanks for your highly informative website which I frequent often to read all articles linked on Twitter.

    You have done a lot debunk many a myth about Arsenal, however there is one I have a serious gripe about which I am left wondering if what is being said about us on this issue is actually factual.

    This issue reared its ugly head again on the BBC’s website again. It is about our Ticket prices. The BBC’s recent analysis does not present the true picture, it appears to be a simplistic poorly researched article which seems to pick the highest and lowest ticket prices. It then writes an article on this basis giving a misrepresenting and misleading price on Arsenal ticket prices. This is the usual problem when it comes to this issue.

    Do not get me wrong, I am not bothered if we have the highest ticket prices in the world. I believe it is justified because of the much underrated job the Board did with the stadium project. However, I do feel it is important that the real picture is presented about our ticket prices. Our knockers often see this as some stick to beat us with and I find it comes down to twisted jealous people. I do not care what they think or say, but I do feel it is important to get to the bottom of this issue.

    I know Chelski, Manure, Spuds etc. etc. fans. I know what they pay for their Season Tickets (ST). I know when I add up what they paid for their Grade A cup games to the price of their STs, they pay far more than I do my ST. Their Cup games are included in their STs, they end up paying more than me with my Cup credits included in my ST. Even my Manure supporting brother, argues his ST plus Cup credits is higher than mine when he removes what he calls the London effect in the price of his tickets. BTW! He hates the Glazers and has stopped going to Manure.

    Given what I know, I often wonder if these ticket pricing analysts often compare like with like? Do they remove the cost of my cup credit before concluding we have the most expensive STs in the world? If you work out our total ST prices on the basis of the respective prices charged for various clubs Grade A cup games and deduct it from our ST prices, I have a strong feeling they may all be wrong on this issue.

    The above suspected misrepresentation may also be symptomatic for the analysis on general ticket pricing.

    If you add up the highest and even lowest ST and ticket prices for the various tiers of pricing i.e. Club Level, Diamond Club etc. etc. and compare to other clubs who do not have such different structured ticket pricing, it is not rocket science your will end up with Arsenal being the highest average ST and ticket prices.

    The question is, are ticket price comparisons being done on a like for like basis. At Highbury for example, we had restricted viewing seats and they were the cheapest. At the Emirates, there is no such thing as restricted viewing seats. So, are these ticket pricing analysts comparing our cheapest seats to restricted viewing seats at other clubs which are the cheapest? Are they comparing seats based on quality of viewing in different section of the ground? As you and I will be aware of from Highbury, certain seats at different ends of the ground did not give you complete viewing, are these factors being taken into consideration when these price analysis are made?

    I doubt it because I sense in most of these analyses a fait accompli. The analysers seem to me to have made their minds up before their research. It there any chance of you and your colleagues doing some proper research into this?


    Kind Regards

  6. Just a belated correction to this ‘first foreign player’ thread:

    I don’t know where this myth of Frank Ransom being an Irishman started, but I’m aware it’s repeated on every Arsenal and Palace site I’ve come across.

    His birth was registered in the Woolwich district in the April quarter of 1878, and he is found on all censuses from 1881 to 1901 living in Plumstead; latterly as a house painter. None of his immediate family is of Irish stock, either. In 1911 he is found, still as a house painter, in Heanor.

    This links perfectly, of course, with his playing career: Woolwich Arsenal / Southern United / Crystal Palace / Grantham Avenue / Leicester Fosse reserves / Heanor United.
    (He also had trials with Grimsby Town reserves in Oct 1909).


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