By Tony Attwood
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On 26 December 1992 Jack Crayston, the Arsenal player who also managed the club, from 1956 to 1958, died. As a player he gained two league winner’s medals, a cup winner’s medal, and eight England caps playing 168 times for the club.
Jack was born on 9 October 1910 in Grange-over-Sands in North Lonsdale (Cumbria), playing as a defender for local teams Ulverston Town and Barrow before moving south to Bradford PA.
George Allison signed him in May 1934, was apparently impressed by his sober attitude to life and paid £5250 for him.
His first match was on 1 September 1934 – the second match of the season. In all he played 37 league games that season scoring three goals, as the club took the championship in the first year of Allison’s management and for the third year running. This was the year of Ted Drake – 41 league games; 42 league goals.
What’s more Jack scored on his début as Arsenal were 8-1 winners in front of a crowd of over 54,000.
Tom Whitaker says in his autobiography that Jack Crayston, non-drinker, non-smoker, was a close pal of Wilf Copping and they both trained together and played cards together.
The following year Arsenal were unable to hold onto their crown – but they won the FA Cup instead with Jack Crayston playing in all seven cup games. And he won his first cap for England that season.
The following season was without trophies but Arsenal were back for 1937/38 with another championship (won on the last day of the season with a 5-0 thumping of Bolton) and 31 games and 4 goals for Jack Crayston.
There were no trophies for the Gunners in the final pre-war season, and Jack Crayston served in the RAF, until he was injured in a war-time football match in 1943, and retired from playing aged 33.
At the end of the war he joined the coaching staff at Highbury and in June 1947 was appointed assistant manager to Tom Whittaker – another ex-player. That remained Jack’s job through the rest of the Whittaker years as the two men won the league twice, the FA Cup once and picked up a runners-up medal in the Cup as well), until Tom died suddenly in November 1956. Jack took over as caretaker manager in October when Tom was taken ill, and was made manager at the end of the year.
In July 1958 Jack Crayston became manager of Doncaster who had just been relegated to the third division, but they were relegated again eight points from safety, and after two seasons in the mid to lower reaches of the fourth Jack resigned as manager in March 1961 aged 51.
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.