John Matthews: arrived at just the wrong time

John Matthews was born in Camden on 1 November 1955 and joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1971 turning professional in 1973.  He made his league début in the opening match of the 1974/5 season – a 1-0 away win against Leicester.

Matthews played right back while Sammy Nelson was left back.  The rest of the team contained  Storey, Simpson, Kelly, Armstrong, Brady, Radford, George and Kidd.

Now if you were selected to play the first match of the season within such a team you might be excused for thinking your time had come, but in fact although Matthews played 10 of the first 12 games and was moved between midfield and full back, after a draw with QPR on October 12 he was dropped from the squad until the following January.Worse in 1975/6 he broke his ankle and was out of the team for the season.

The other problem he had (other than the broken ankle) was that David Price made his first appearance in 1972/3 and went on to make 116 starts.  A certain Liam Brady made his first appearance in 1973/4 and went on to make 50 starts.  With established players fighting for their places, (including the move of Storey between full back and defensive midfield) and these other newcomers John Matthews effectively had arrived on the scene just at the wrong time.

Here is the year by year record…

Season Games Lge goals Manager
1974/75 20 0 Mee
1975/76 0/1 0 Mee
1976/77 14/3 2 Neill
1977/78 4/3 0 Neill
Total 38 (7 as sub) 2

He was transferred to Sheffield United for £90,000 and then after four years there began to move around clubs.

Season Club Games Lge goals
1973/78 Arsenal 45 2
1978/82 Sheffield United 103 14
1982/84 Mansfield Town 72 6
1984/85 Chesterfield 38 1
1985./89 Plymouth Argyle 135 4
1989/90 Torquay United 25 0
1990/ Dorchester Town

He helped Plymouth get promotion to the second division during his period there.

I have no information on what happened next – if you do, please do write in.

Meanwhile you can read all the details we have gathered at Arsenal’s anniversaries.   You might also enjoyArsenal manager by manager.

The books…

Other sites from the same team…

One Reply to “John Matthews: arrived at just the wrong time”

  1. John Matthews was a skilful, composed player who began as a Centre-Back … and that’s where he had that initial run in the team, seen as a potential successor to Peter Simpson.

    But it was in midfield that he really made a great impression. Unfortunately, though, one of those who were ‘never the same’ after major injury.

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