John “Jock” Robson; our smallest ever goal keeper

By Tony Attwood

Yesterday our topic was Stuart Robson, midfielder and commentator on Arsenal, today it is John Robson, the  goalkeeper who joined Arsenal from Innerleithen (or Vale of Leithen depending on which source you read) for £5 in November 1921.

Now when I was a kid I wanted to be a goalkeeper, which was fairly dumb because I only grew to 5 feet 8 inches tall.  I felt very let down by my parents for not making me bigger.

But maybe I should have persevered since John Robson was a keeper for Arsenal at 5′ 8″ – although that was in the 1920s.

He was born on 15 April 1899 and having served his country with the 6th Seaforth Highlanders in France during the First World War and then played for Innerleithen/ Vale of Leithen.

The reality is, I believe, that although quote Innerleithen as the previous club, it was in fact Vale of Leithen who play in Innerleithen.  They are still there, and now play in the Lowland league which is the Scottish equivalent to the Conference in England – one step below the fourth division of the national league.

John Robson  made his debut against Bolton Wanderers  on Boxing Day 1922 – a game we won 5-0, having lost the previous day to the same team 1-4.  He was the third keeper Arsenal had used that season (after Williamson was dropped for letting in 14 goals in the first five games, and Dunn who not only let in the four against Bolton but two days before that let in four against Huddersfield).

Robson made 20 appearances in the league that season and 42 in 1923/4, although curiously says, “He was forced to wait for a prolonged run in the first team but took his chance in the 1924/25 season and played 26 times.”

However after the change of manager in 1925 he lost his place after just seven games and was replaced by Dan Lewis, and made only occasional appearances after that – making a total of nine in that season.  Jock Robson made his last appearance for Arsenal against Man City on 7 November 1925 having played 101 times for Arsenal, including 9 games in Chapman’s first season in 1925/6, in which Arsenal came 2nd in the league.

He transferred to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in August 1926 and is shown on Wiki as having played for them 42 times.

The books…

The sites from the same team…


2 Replies to “John “Jock” Robson; our smallest ever goal keeper”

  1. Aye it was the Vale he signed from,and they are still going strong.
    Jock passed away in 1995 or 96 I think.

    Ian Mcdonald

  2. He was my gt uncle i have a phto of him playing for arsenal against liverpool in a cup final which they lost
    Carole Cummings nr Ireland

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