By Tony Attwood
This is a continuation of the series of articles about players who played for the opening match of the Arsenal season 100 years ago. This piece is about a player whose career was so similar to Pat Rice’s you will be amazed! The player is…
Joseph Ebenezer Shaw – a name to conjure with, although in reality he was known as Joe Shaw.
Joe Shaw was born May 7, 1883 (Arsenal, the football facts has 1882) and died in September 1963 aged 80 after a lifetime of service to Arsenal. He is one of the handful of men who need a plaque of remembrance in the club’s precincts.
He played 309 league games as a full back for Woolwich Arsenal and then Arsenal never scoring a goal. He was Arsenal’s captain, and only the third player to clock up 300 games (the earlier two also being in the 1910 opening side: Percy Sands and Roddy McEachrane.)
Joe Shaw started out with Bury, where he was born, and then moved on to Accrington Stanley, before reaching Plumstead in 1907. It is worth noting in passing that while Accrington are remembered as founders of the original football league they resigned in 1893, and that this time were in non-league football (they returned in 1921). Bury however were a first division club who had come 5th as recently as 1901.
When Shaw came J Sharp was the left back regular and in his first season he made a couple of appearances when Sharp was injured – his first against Preston on September 28 1907 (losing 0-3 away). But from the start of the following season Shaw was the first choice, playing between 28 and 38 games a season until 1921 – moving to right back after the War. By the 1921-22 season he was 38, but still he started out in the side, playing the first two games, but age took its toll then only managed six more, ending in a 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United on March 11, 1922, a couple of months short of his 38th birthday.
Thus Joe Shaw was a player who joined the club in the First Division, was there with the relegation, moved to Highbury, and was there for the return to the top league in 1919 – when he was made captain. He would have played many more games and possibly held our record number of appearances, had it not been for the four war years when no official football was played.
When he finished playing for Arsenal (after 326 games including the FA Cup matches) he became manager of Arsenal Reserves, and upon the death of Herbert Chapman he took over the first team for the rest of the season. When George Allison came along he went back to the reserves. Not exactly Pat Rice (full back, temporary manager before Wenger), but not far off.
He stayed on at the club during the second world war and then became assistant manager to Tom Whittaker, before being a “club ambassador”. He retired in 1956 after an amazing 49 years working for Arsenal – and (if I may add a personal note) he is the first connection (outside of my family of Arsenal fans) between me and Woolwich Arsenal. I made my first trips to Highbury while Joe Shaw was still there. Tenuous I know, but still…
I am not sure how I am going to manage any sort of campaign to get recognition for some of these amazing heroes of Arsenal that are being unearthed in this series, but I really will have a go.
The remembrance plans so far…
Jack Humble – club founder who stayed with the club until 1929
The Manor Ground – a plaque showing where Arsenal played
Joe Shaw – player, manager, ambassador – a lifetime at Arsenal
Percy Sands – The Arsenal’s first captain