10 December: The Arsenal Archives. Signing a superhero from 113 years ago

From The Courier, Plumstead, Thursday, December 10, 1908 (page 6)…

“Greenaway, the young Coatbridge forward, has nearly set the grass on fire at Woolwich Arsenal, where he would seem in peril of being spoiled by praise. He was one of Manager Morrell’s discoveries, and cost the Arsenal next to nothing. Greenaway, being a modest lad, wears the same-sized hat as when he went to Plumstead.”

David Greenaway was a Scottish player who played as an outside right.  Between 1908 and 1920 played 161 league games and scored 13 goals with Arsenal – and so he was a member of the 1910 squad when Arsenal were rescued from collapse by Henry Norris, and who carried on and played in north London.

He came in as the number 7 for the second game of the 1908-9 season (Notts county away, lost 1-2, crowd 13,000) and then became a fixture, playing 36 league games four FA Cup games and scoring three goals all in the league.  (The web site Perfect People has David playing in the first game of the season – that’s not right.  The first match was September 2, three days earlier, against Everton.  We lost 0-4 – which is quite possibly a reason why Greenaway came into the team immediately after.)

He was born in Coatdyke, Lanarkshire in 1889, and played junior football with Shettleston.   Shettleston, from the East End of Glasgow were at least until recently still playing at Greenfield Park in the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association.

So, at the age of 19 he came south after just playing junior football – which suggests he actually came to Woolwich in order to find work at the armaments factory, and then managed to get into the Arsenal team.   He obviously was a decent player because he really did go straight into the first team – although the manager had used three different number 7s during the previous season and the stats show that none of them (W Garbutt, HG Lee, J Mordue) had the manager’s full confidence.

We can also notice that in the summer that he joined, Arsenal changed managers, with Phil Kelso going and George Morrell coming in.  By then the financials were in decline, so at 19 Greenaway might not just have been better than last season’s players, he might well have been cheaper.

However although he made the move to Highbury, after Jock Rutherford signed in November 1913 from Newcastle, Greenaway was dropped.  He played eight times in 1913/14 and six the following season.

He was still young enough to fight in the war and served his country with the Royal Field Artillery.  He returned to Highbury for the first post-war season (1919-20) but only played three games that year.  He didn’t play at all the following year, and left the club.

There’s no details of where David Greenaway went after that, nor have I found details of when he passed away.  He seems to be one of those players we have simply lost in the mists of time – or more accurately moved to another part of  the country and had no further connection with football.



For details of the videos sorted by club, and videos in the order we published them, plus our 21 golden great videos please see here.

The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.


100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.3 December 1949

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