Arsenal News


Arsenal News
Arsenal News
May 2022

Leslie and Dennis Compton: Brothers at the Arsenal

by Tony Attwood
On 22 March 1950 Arsenal played Chelsea at White Hart Lane, in an FA Cup semi-final replay.  Arsenal won 1-0 with a goal scored in extra time.  It was, according to reports, not a perfect game of skilful football – indeed it seems that Arsenal were indulging in a long ball game for much of the time.
The game took place during the illustrious reign of Tom Whittaker who won the league twice and the FA Cup once for the club.  It was his untimely death in October 1956 that resulted in the club appointing a sequence of three managers who, over the next ten years, won nothing, and managed just one single top four finish between them.
But back to this game.  Arsenal’s team was of particular note:
Scott    Barnes
Macauley, Lesley Compton, Mercer
Cox, Logie, Goring, Lewis, Dennis Compton
And of course from this you will see we had two Comptons playing.
Leslie Compton played for Arsenal between 1930 and 1952 mainly as a centre-half, making 253 appearances and scoring 5 goals.  He won a First Division title medal in 1948 and a FA Cup winners medal (following this game) in 1950.
Denis Compton played for Arsenal between 1936 and 1950, mainly as an outside left,  making 54 appearances and scoring 15 goals.  He also won a first Division title medal in 1948 and the FA Cup winners medal in 1950.
So, time to include the Comptons within our history of Arsenal.

Denis  Compton CBE was born in Hendon on 23 May 1918 and died in Hendon on 23 April 1997.  If we are to separate the Comptons somehow we’d call Denis a cricketer who played football, in contrast to his brother who was a footballer who played cricket.  Denis played in 78 Test Matches and played for Middlesex – his home county.  He was a slow left arm bowler, and cricket reports call him one of England’s most remarkable batsmen.    He  scored 123 centuries in first-class cricket.   A stand at Lord’s is name in his honour.

Denis started his football career at Nunhead in 1934/5 before moving to Arsenal, where he made his début in 1936.  He also played for England in wartime matches.
So, on to his brother Leslie.  Like his brother he played cricket for Middlesex, but it was at football that he excelled.   He came to Arsenal straight from Middlesex Schools, and played as an amateur in 1930 playing his first first-team game on 24 April 1932 against Aston Villa, just after turning pro.
He started as a right back, but then when George Male took that place, and Denis went back into the reserves.
His first medal came with the Charity Shield in 1938.  During the war he continued to play for Arsenal and, being converted to centre forward he apparently scored ten goals in one game against Leyton Orient.
After the war however he moved into the centre of defence.  He missed a few games in 1947/8 because of his commitments to Middlesex (which must meant that Arsenal and Middlesex had a deal as to when he was available) he played for the rest of the season as Arsenal won the First Division title and both Comptons got their league winner’s medals.It was Leslie who scored the equaliser in the first match against Chelsea, that led to the replay discussed above,  heading in a corner taken by his brother Denis.In the final Arsenal beat Liverpool 1-0 to win the cup.
Denis was then selected to play for England on 15 November 1950, at the age of 38 years and 64 days; the oldest post-war England débutante and the oldest ever outfield player to début.Leslie retired in the summer of 1952 but stayed on for three more years as a coach and scout.  His cricketing record was 272 appearances for Middlesex where he played as wicket keeper, and both brothers won the 1947 County Championship.
The Comptons are thus the only brothers ever to have won the League and County titles in  football and cricket.


7 comments to Leslie and Dennis Compton: Brothers at the Arsenal

  • Denis’ grandson, Nick Compton, is currently playing for England in New Zealand, opening the batting. He’s scored two centuries in the series so far.

  • Sampat Prabhudesai

    I dont know if u have typed it by mistake or not but it was’nt Denis who played at the age of 38. Leslie it was who made his debut and wrote his name in history.

  • Margaret glover

    During the 1939-1945 war lLeslie Compton played at Bradford park avenue and was on an occasion joined by his brother.

  • Please it was Leslie Compton with an ie not an ey. Few people could look less female than Les Compton and Denis only had one n which was quite sufficient

  • Anil Kuner

    Arsenal have Denis as played 60 games and scored 16 goals for them, starting in all 60 games played.

    My uncle who passed away on Monday and was a junior player on the playing staff in 1948-9 remembers the Comptons well and would regale me with stories of them and some of the other players.

  • Ian Kemp

    Denis Compton was a all time great He lost his best years because of the war. Goodness how many records he would have broken . He had charm and was very good looking .At one point from 1946 to 1950 he scored 60 centuries took nearly 500 wickets 18000 runs and scored 12 test centuries Played for Arsenal, which he would have played far .All this was done with fun and sportsmanship He played all kinds of pitches with a light bat and very little protection . Lindwell and Miller were two of greatest fast bowlers ever also the quality of county cricket was far higher then it is today. The only improvement today is the fielding.. I did see him when I was a school boy. It is difficult to compare the greats , but Denis Compton would have been great in
    any aria. I am not sure about some of the present day greats with heavy bats covered wickets short outfields and the bowling is of variable quality today. What would have Denis done to Shane Warne Or the present Indian slow bowlers . He had such a good eye he went down the pitch to fast bowlers He was a genius. The only batsman who played for England in recent years that came near to him was Graham Gooch David Gower and Kevin Peterson and he lacked Denis s Charm and sportsmanship.

  • F Burnett

    he made some good test stands with Len Hutton

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