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Dr Kevin O’Flanagan Arsenal: 1945/1948

Dr Kevin O’Flanagan played for Arsenal between 1945 and 1948  making a grand total of  16 Football League starts and scoring three goals.
Hardly the most illustrious of our men to be remembered on the Highbury Wall at the Ems, but he was such an extraordinary man that he really needs to be be remembered on this site.
The headline that is usually given when Kevin is mentioned is that he played for Ireland at both football and rugby.  But that’s only the start.  He was also a sprint champion.  And…
From 1936 to 1945 he played for Bohemians in Ireland, while continuing his studies at University College Dublin.  He first came to the attention of football clubs in England in 1937 when he played for Ireland juniors against a Birmingham team and scored twice.  Liverpool, Villa and Man U offered him places but he continued with his education in Ireland.  He scored for Ireland in a 1938 world cup qualifier against Norway.  He is also one of those men who played both for Northern Ireland and for the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland).
His first class career was ended by an ankle injury after three years, although over the next three years he played for Corinthian Casuals, Barnet and Brentford, before calling it a day in 1950.
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In his first season with Arsenal, he played 18 times for the club in the Football League South, and scored 11 goals which made him Arsenal’s top scorer.  He also played twice in the FA Cup for us that season.
The stories about the good doctor are everywhere.  During one game, when he was determined not to allow a ball go out of play over the opposition’s goal line, near the corner flag, he is said to have sprinted 50 yards in about 5 seconds, missed the ball, refused to stop and careered into the crowd, landing 4 or 5 rows back.   Luckily they were Arsenal supporters and he was gently manhandled overhead back on to the pitch.

Fortunately Kevin was also a long jumper so he would have known how to do that bit.  He also played Gaelic football, golf and tennis.

On September 30, 1946 both Kevin and his brother played for Ireland against England.

After football he became an official with the International Olympic Committee, only retiring in 1994 after 18 years service becoming an honorary lifetime member of IOC.

But his work with the IOC continued for many years, as he was a member of the IOC Drugs Panel from 1977 to 1999 and was a member of the Medical Commissioin from 1980 to 1994.

Now there is one more story to be told – but I have left that at home today, so I am going to have to add it later, unless one of my colleagues would like to jump in with it.   It involves the good doctor and a referee.

The books…

The sites…

The main series

6 comments to Dr Kevin O’Flanagan Arsenal: 1945/1948

  • Ray C

    Kevin O’Flanagan seems to have been an absolutely amazing sportsman. His involvement with Arsenal in the 1940s must surely have opened-up the idea for young Irish football players that they should consider our Club as a good place to go – one of the Club’s most distinguished Players, Liam Brady followed in his footsteps many years later, and the Player with the highest number of Club Appearances is also Irish – Dave O’Leary!

  • did kevin o’flanagan play at outside right when with arsenal f.c. i remember when in the fifties i bought the charley buchan football magazine each month in an edition of it there was a report of arsenal having made a visit to moscow to play a match and on the team a peter goring was pictured in the dressing room stripping for the match. i remember it was noted the floor in the dressing was heated. i wonder would there be any record of that event, i am aware that clubs such as moscow dynamo and spartak moscow (played arsenal home and away about that time). moscow dynamo visited chelsea and a record crowd was recorded. tyger cromych was the name of the dynamo keeper. i use a google website.

    hamilton geraghty

  • gerald collis

    I claim to be one of the oldest Arsenal supporters .

    I remember Dr O Flanagan playing for Arsenal, he was a very gifted footballer who played on the right wing.

    I remember the first game I saw was Arsenal v Leicester around 1946, they won 3-1.

    Can anyone remember further back.

    My father and I went to Highbury for many many years

  • I doubt very much if anyone can beat you Gerald.

  • Carretta

    name Luigi Carretta age 81 Home Besancon fr islington school boy capitan middlelsex capt England school boys trial
    with Johnny Haynes Tosh Chamberlaine i signd with them at Fulham my Father Arsenal fan i watched arsenal when they played at the Spurs ground during the War today i go to all the europeing games i have lived in france past 60 years regards Luigi

  • Luigi thank you so much for writing in. Do hope you are keeping well, and thank you for sharing those memories

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