The problem of number 8 – teams under Chapman

By Tony Attwood

Chapman began his time at Arsenal by buying a number 8 – Charlie Buchan.  That gave him the figure who could lead the club on the pitch, and who could score: 19 in the first season, 14 in the second and 16 in the third.

But as we look beyond this one legendary player we find a huge amount of swapping of position.  One simple example is David Jack who played in all the front line positions – although here I only count the appearances at number 8.

25/6 26/7 27/8 28/9 29/30 30/1 31/2 32/3 33/4
Buchan 39 33 28
Lambert 5 4
Shaw 1 6
Tricker 2 4 1
Blyth 3
Young 2
Neil 1
Jones 1
Jack 15 28 26 32 32 12
Parkin 5 5 1
Peel 1
Brain 12 5 16
Johnstone 2
Bastin 7
Coleman 2 4
Stockill 3 2
Bowden 7 25
James 1

Ray Bowden was the man brought in to replace Jack – he signed in March 1933 for £4500, and he mainly did hold the number 8 position, playing behind Ted Drake.   Like the other number 8s that Chapman preferred he could be counted on to knock in the goals – and such was the recognition of him that he represented England six times.  He also won a cup winners’ medal in 1936.

He was sold to Newcastle in November 1937 for £5,000 – an interesting profit for a player who was moving down a league and was starting to have injury problems with his ankle.   In all he played 138 matches for Arsenal and scored 43 goals.

Of the players left to Chapman by Knighton there were two regular number 8s: Neil and Brain.  Neil was converted to a number 10 and Brain to being a centre forward.

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One Reply to “The problem of number 8 – teams under Chapman”

  1. With respect, Tony, it’s a little misleading when we old and decrepit supporters, read about numbered players.
    We still live in the land of the pristine shirt, untainted by advertising and numbering.
    In our twilight world, David Jack was an inside right rather than a No.8!

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