Chapman’s centre forwards – stranger than you might think


By Tony Attwood

So Herbert Chapman was a great manager, which means he had a great centre forward didn’t he?

Well if we look at the players we see Jimmy Brain – who was a Knighton signing, and Jack Lambert who was indeed brought in by Chapman.   Lambert played in 143 games, but many of them not in the number 9 position.   Brain played 204.

Players 25/26 26/27 27/28 28/29 29/30 30/31 31/32 32/33 33/34
Cock 1
Brain 41 35 36 24 1
Buchan 7 4
Cope 1
Shaw 1
Jack 13 2 8
Lambert 5 20 34 36 12 3
Johnstone 2
Halliday 17
Coleman 2 28 3
Parkin 4
Stockhill 2
Dunne 21
Cox 2
Downe 4
Drake 10

This is perhaps the most unexpected finding of all – the finding that there is not one or two key number 9s playing most of the games but a variety of players – with one of the main centre forwards being signed by the previous manager.

Even the very start of Chapman’s reign was strange at number 9 – for he had Donald Cock who made his one and only appearance of the season in the first game of 1925/6.  He was sold to Clapton Orient for £1,500 in October 1925, and after that Chapman moved over to Brain who in his 204 games scored 125 goals.

Lambert’s record was even better in terms of ratio, with 98 goals in 143 matches.

Next up, the number 10.

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