The Players in the Dark Era: David Herd

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David Herd, by Tony Attwood

1954 was one of Tom Whittaker’s rebuilding years.  Having won the league in 1953 we slipped to an alarming 12th in 1953/4 and so new players were brought in and moved up the ranks.  Among the many players who made their first appearances that season were Jimmy Bloomfield, Jo Haverty, Danny Clapton and David George Herd.

David Herd was born on 15 April 1934 in Hamilton, the son of a former Man City player Alec Herd, and with a Scottish international Sandy Herd as an uncle.

David started out at Stockport County, where he actually played alongside his father, but as with so many players of this era, two years or more of his career was lost through the call up to post-war military service.

He was signed by Arsenal for £10,000 in the summer of 1954 and played in his first game against Leicester on 19 February 1955 in a 1-1 draw.  He played three games that sason and five the next, scoring three goals (which is not a bad ratio for a newcomer), but in 1956/7 he started being used regularly getting 22 goals from 12 matches in the league and playing through six cup matches too where he got another six goals.

From 1956-57 to 1960-61 he was the top goal scorer, and in his final season he scored 29 goals in 40 games.

But David’s tragedy was that he was a shining light in the Dark Era of Swindin.  In 1958/9 we came third, but otherwise there was nothing and he even suffered from Swindin’s notorious notion of playing players out of position.  In 1959/60 for example he played as outside right, inside right, centre forward and inside left!  And this was the best goalscorer we had had since Ronnie Rooke!

And so, rather than sack the manager who was so palpably not doing it, they let their best player of the era slip away, and Manchester United bought him in July 1961 for £35,000.   In his last 12 games for Arsenal we won 2, drew 6 and lost 4.  The final matches of his career at Arsenal were defeat away to Chelsea (1-3) home to Wolverhampton 1-5 and away to Everton 1-4.   David even managed a goal in that final awful game.

In total  he scored 107 goals for Arsenal in 180 games and he is the club’s 15th best goalscorer.  He won his first cap for Scotland in October 1958, and a total of five in all, scoring three goals.

With Manchester United he won the FA Cup, the championship twice and the European Cup although not playing in the final.

David then spent two seasons at Stoke City where he played 44 games, and briefly was with Waterford United, in Ireland, a club known for attracting Manchester players.  David played three games there – Bobby Charlton later played for them too.

Then he moved into management with Lincoln City for the 1971/2 season during which they missed promotion by one place and one point.   To put this in context, in the previous season Lincoln came four from bottom, and had to seek re-election, and in the season after David they were mid-table.

After that he ran a couple of garages in Manchester until April 1999 when he retired.


Latest series: Into the Darkness.  Arsenal 1958-1967


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