15 October: George Male’s first appearance at right back and why that’s so important





Day by Day the videosAn Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order. 

15 October 1932: George Male’s first appearance as a right back v Blackburn.

The story is that Male didn’t believe he could play right back but a chat with Chapman convinced him he “was the best right back in the country”.  And so he turned out to be.

In 1927 he had a trial as a 16-year-old in a reserve team friendly against Tottenham on along with eight other triallists.  Arsenal lost 2-12!

He finally joined as a player in 1929 and left in 1948 making 318 appearances – which would have been many more had it not been for the intervention of Germany.  But he didn’t actually leave the club until 1975.

Male played his first match in the 7-1 victory over Blackpool on December 27, 1930.   He started out on the left wing as a deputy for Bob John and he played just three times in our first championship-winning season, and nine the following season, including in the 1932 cup final (which was a surprise, caused by an injury to Alex James). But he was still a minor player getting only two games that season and nine in 1931/2.

However then Herbert Chapman moved him to right back (shades of Arsene Wenger here I think – seeing a player in one position and thinking he can play in another), he became a regular and between October 1932 and December 1934 did the seemingly impossible of playing 100 consecutive games.  He is later said to have recounted to a journalist how he went into Chapman’s office thinking he was going to be transferred, only to find that the manager was wanting to convince him that he was about to become the best right back in the country.

That might seem like something and a half but it was only the start.   He went on to become Arsenal captain and England captain from the mid-30s until the outbreak of war when he was just 29.    By then he had played in a side that had won four championships and the FA Cup.   He had also won 19 caps for his country and was captain six times.

During the war years, he played nearly 200 matches for Arsenal, as well as serving in Palestine with the RAF. 

He was also present at Arsenal to watch the double victories in 1971, before retiring form work in 1975.

After that he went to Canada where he had family, and died in February 1998, aged 87.  

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