13 October: Arsenal smash the world transfer record





By Tony Attwood

On 13 October 1928 David Jack was purchased by Herbert Chapman for £10,890 – a world record.

That much is undeniable, but quite how the event came about is not so certain, because three completely different stories are told.   One from Arsenal secretary Bob Wall came in his autobiography, “Arsenal From The Heart” which was published in 1969 – over 40 years later.  This is the most famous tale and it relates to Herbert Chapman getting the negotiators from Bolton drunk, and then signing the deal.

Curiously Herbert Chapman never mentioned the transfer, even though he had a regular newspaper column during his time at Arsenal.

Tom Whittaker who was the club trainer at the time was in the process of writing an autobiography when he passed away.  It was published later, and he tells of a chaotic situation in which the Arsenal negotiators went for a few drinks, then went to see Jack to tie up the deal but couldn’t find his house.  They therefore postponed the talks until the next day when the deal was done. No fee is mentioned.

George Allison’s autobiography was published within weeks of him retiring from the club and so is the most reliable document.  He says that he went with Chapman to negotiate a price for the player and were told the cost would be £13,000.  However after a meal with the Bolton men, and a few drinks, the figure came down to £11,500 – which is the normal sort of movement that one would expect in negotiations of this nature.  Both sides make a concession and meet in the middle.

Of course without access to the Arsenal board minutes we can’t quite be sure of what the price was that was paid, but the tale does show that many of the reports from earlier times, just like now, need to be treated with caution.

David Jack had played 295 games for Bolton and scored 144 goals.  For Arsenal he played 181 games and scored 113. goals.  He ;ater went on to manage Southend United, Middlesbrough and Shelbourne.

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