DR Clapton: played two games in one day

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by Tony Attwood

Continuing the review of the players who were playing for Arsenal at the start of the Dark Era when we were managed by Swindin and Wright, and went 9 years without a top four finish or a Cup final.

Danny Clapton (July 22, 1934 – June 16, 1986) is number 34 in the official Arsenal.com list of “Gunners Greatest” players.

He was born in Stepney, and played for Leytonstone as an amateur before joining Arsenal in August 1953.

Leytonstone were formed in the same year as Arsenal, but stayed amateur and moved into the Spartan League in 1907, before moving to the Isthmian League, which they won on several occasions – as well as winning the FA Amateur Cup in the days when it was a highly prized competition.

In 1979 after facing relegation they merged with Ilford to form Leytonstone Ilford playing at Green Pond Road, by Walthamstow Avenue which I think is where they still are.

Danny was signed by Tom Whittaker in August 1953 – the summer after winning the first division for the last time before the dark days of Swindin and Wright set in.  His first game was on Christmas Day 1954, a 1-0 win over Chelsea in front of 47,178 fans.

He played 16 league games that season, all at number 7, and then became the regular winger, playing 39 games in three of the next four seasons, injury restricting him to 28 games in 1957-8.

He was thus part of Swindin’s team for the 58/9 season in which the club came third – the final success before the Dark Ages, and the following year although slipping back to 23 league games he scored 7 goals – his highest achievement.

He also played one game for England (against Wales, November 26, 1958).  That match ended 2-2 and was the match in which, at the close of play, Danny Clapton and Jack Kelsey then went across to Highbury to play in a friendly game against Juventus!

From 1959 onwards his appearances declined, until he made just five appearances in 1961/2 by which time MacLeod and Skirton were sharing the number 7 and 11 shirts most of the time.

Having played 207 league matches plus 18 cup games, and scoring 25 goals (all in the league) he moved to Luton Town in September 1962 before moving on to play for Corinthians of Sydney.    By 1970 he was running a pub in Hackney.

His younger brother Dennis played for Arsenal and Northampton Town.


Other articles from this series on  Arsenal 1958-1967


Earlier series of articles

9 Replies to “DR Clapton: played two games in one day”

  1. Legend has it that Danny wrote to Tom Whittaker asking for a trial and was invited to come along by Whittaker.

    Danny and Dennis were the last siblings to play in a first team game together for Arsenal.

  2. I remember him coming on part way through the match to huge applause.
    This was no ordinary Juventus side it was the team of John Charles and Sivori,

  3. Sorry, off-topic to this particular history article.

    Tony Attwood is mentioned in a history article at Arsenal.com. Congratulations.


    > According to new research by Tony Attwood and Andy Kelly, George Allison’s talk of “boycotts” and “ostracism” may well be sensationalist. Writing his handbook piece some twenty five years after the event, his version would have been based on the views of others, in an era when it was notoriously tricky to corroborate stories and evidence.

  4. Ghaverla – thanks for this, and no apologies needed for being off topic. I hadn’t seen this and I am not sure Andy has either. It gives me a nice warm glow to know that Arsenal.com are picking up on our work even when we are not actively saying “print this, print this, print this”.

    Really appreciate you letting me know. I shall have a celebratory drink of cherry cola.

    Or something


  5. They used to play matches on Christmas Day? I know they tend to schedule derby matches for the day after, which I suppose is England’s version of America’s Thanksgiving Day when big “football” rivalries are (at least here in the Northeast) often played at the high school level and some big college games are played over the 4-day weekend.

    Is there a “this date in history” site for Arsenal? My birthday is coming up and I’d like to know how they did on the date in the past — I was looking for them to smash Stoke on the day last year but it was snowed out, but we can derail Man City’s “Invincible” express this time!

  6. Wonderful article… Great to read something about old days and players (good or bad doesn’t matter really), it’s all Arsenal still…

  7. I can recall seeing Danny tormenting and mesmering an aggressive Bolton left back (Tommy Booth? or similar name) who was the current England left back.

    It was worth all those years of Darkness just to see this display – well, maybe I seem to remember Arsenal winning by quite a margin thanks to Danny.

  8. Leytonstone-Ilford played in Leytonstone until around 1988, sharing Green Pond Road with Walthamstow Avenue for just a season before they merged as Redbridge Forest. After a short spell there, they merged again with Dagenham and became Dagenham & Redbridge, playing in Dagenham.

  9. If I remember correctly,the England-Wales match was played at Villa Park,which makes the Kelsey/Clapton dash even more difficult. I was desperate to see the Juventus game, but I was only nine at the time and I couldn’t get my father to take me.

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