Arsenal beat the transfer record

By Tony Attwood

This is a day of talk about transfers and transfer records, so not a bad day to go back over the times when Arsenal broke such records – especially as two major events happened on 4 August.

On August 4th 1938 George Allison, the Arsenal manager broke the British transfer record in signing Bryn Jones from Wolverhampton, for £14,500.  So outrageous was the fee seemed (and what with this being Arsenal) questions were asked in Parliament.

Also on this day (4 August 1999) Nicolas Anelka was sold to Real Madrid.

He had joined from PSG for just £500,000 and won the PFA Young Player of the Year in 1998/9.  I believe the name Le Sulk came from the Sun, and it was a tragedy that it was taken up by some supporters (although I don’t recall hearing it too often at games).  He played 72 times, plus 17 times as a sub, and scored 27 goals before going to Real Madrid for £22m in 1999 – an astonishing profit.

Nic won the Champions League with Real Mad in 2000, before going to PSG for £20m and then moved to Liverpool on loan and then to Man City where he scored 37 goals in 89 games.

In January 2005 he moved again this time for £7m to  Fenerbahçe with whom he won the league in 2005. In 2006 he joined Bolton for £8m and was their top scorer with 11 goals.  He signed a four year deal in 2007 but in January 2008 went to Chelsea for £15m.   With Chelsea he has played 116 times and scored 47 goals.

Returning to Bryn Jones his transfer record stayed far longer than most (not least because of the second world war).

It was not broken again until September 1947 when Billy Steel went from Morton to Derby.

Bryn’s transfer was the second time running that Arsenal had broken the record, for the previous transfer record was David’s Jacks transfer from Bolton to Arsenal in October 1928 for £14,500.

Arsenal did not appear in the transfer records list again until December 1971 when Bertie Mee transferred Alan Ball from Everton to Arsenal for £220,000 in what turned out to be a failed attempt to keep the Double Winners at their high standards.

Next we appeared on the list with Dennis Bergkamp in June 1995 with the £7.5 million from Inter.

And then for the one and only time we appeared on the transfer record charts on the selling side: selling Nic Anelka to Real Madrid for £22.5 million in 1999.

The current holder of the record is Cristiano Ronaldo who went from Man U to Real Madrid for £80m.  Today it looks as if that is about to be broken by a transfer from Tottenham to Real Mad.

But it is interesting to compare this with the transfer at the start of the record transfer list.  It is usually given as happening in 1893 – the first £100 transfer.  Willie Groves from West Bromwich to Aston Villa.   Arsenal were playing in their first season as a league club, in the second division, at the time.

As for Bryn Jones at Wolverhampton he won the first of 17 caps for Wales.

Jones started well, scoring three in his first four games, but then that was it – he couldn’t score again in the 30 games played that season.  Perhaps the mantle of succeeding Alex James was too much for him – and certainly the press soon got on his back.  The media, then as now, love nothing more than the big guys getting it wrong.

In Forward Arsenal, Bernard Joy (another Arsenal player who we have considered on this site – and a man who played along side Bryn) wrote…

Do we write Bryn Jones down as a gamble that failed, or would he have been a success eventually? The outbreak of war in September 1939 prevented us from ever finding the complete answer. There were signs before then that, as James had done, he was weathering the bad patch which always seems to follow a change of style from an attacking to a foraging inside-forward. […] My own view, however, is that Jones’s modesty was the barrier to achieving the key role Arsenal had intended for him. He could not […] regard the spotlight as a challenge to produce his best; all the time it irked him, making him self-conscious and uneasy.

Bryn Jones served with the Royal Artillery in the war and aged 34, made 26 appearances in the first post-war season and scored just 1 goal.  In his final season he played 7, and scored 1.

After leaving Arsenal he coached at Norwich from 1949-51 and then ran a newsagents shop in Highbury.  He died in October 1985.


The books…


3 Replies to “Arsenal beat the transfer record”

  1. It seems petty to say that WW2, when so many people lost their lives, was responsible for destroying Bryn Jones’ career.
    Within a year of his signing the War had broken out and the pay of professional footballers was reduced to £2.50 per game!
    PS I’m not sure who rattled the cage of Temigunga4 above but his cheap remark has no place on a site like this.

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