13 February 1995 John Hartson signed for Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

John Hartson started games 54 times for Arsenal, and scored 14 goals over three seasons from 1994 to 1997.

He was born on 5 April 1975 in Swansea.  He joined Luton Town aged 16 but following the theft of a credit card (which was used to provide funds for gambling) he was suspended for a short while.

In 1992 he turned pro, and in January 1995, near the end of the Graham era, he signed for Arsenal for £2.5 million.  The aim was to play him alongside Ian Wright, and to replace Alan Smith, who following injuries was ready to retire.  Hartson played his first game for us on 14 January and scored in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

However following the departure of George Graham and the summer arrival of  Dennis Bergkamp, the shape and approach of the team changed and with Arsène Wenger’s different approach a year later (plus the arrival of Nicolas Anelka in 1997) John Hartson found himself eased out.

He was sold to West Ham United for anything between £3.2 m and £5m depending on which newspaper you read at the time.

John Hartson played 73 games for WHU and scored 33 goals, but following his kicking of Berkovic in the face in 1998 he was fined and his reputation was not helped.

After some talk of him going to Man U John joined Wimbledon (then a top division club) for £7.5m.    But injuries began tell and Wimbledon looked to move him on – eventually with his joining Coventry before he moved to Celtic for whom he played for five seasons ultimately winning  the Scottish PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year.

John Hartson later played for West Brom and Norwich City before retiring.  He has since worked on TV and radio (he has been rather negative about Arsenal in some of his comments accusing Arsenal fans of living in the past, and as a coach for Newport County.

In 2009 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and brain cancer, from which, after a huge amount of medical attention, he recovered.  He subsequently set up the John Harston Foundation

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3 Replies to “13 February 1995 John Hartson signed for Arsenal”

  1. Clearly, az has not read the name of this blog.

    Hartson was something of a late bloomer, only really hitting his stride with Celtic. Considering the success Arsenal had at that time, it’s hard to say he’s “one that got away.” His leaving was best for him as well as for us.

    This post also answered a question that I, not being aware of all this at the time, have asked in retrospect: Why did Alan Smith leave just one year after scoring the winner in the ’94 Cup Winners’ Cup Final? I wondered if he’d had a falling-out with Graham, or didn’t like caretaker Stewart Houston, or next manager Bruce Rioch, or had a falling-out with Wright. Wikipedia says that he retired at age 33 (and plenty of forwards last longer), but not why.

  2. Alan Smith suffered a knee injury in a Third Round F.A Cup Tie away to Millwall in January 1995.
    He was subsequently unable to recover from a cartilage operation and, rather than risk osteoarthritis if he continued playing, decided to retire in the Summer of 1995.

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