By Tony Attwood
I am fairly used to struggling in finding out the details of some of the lesser known players in the pre-Chapman era, but generally once we get to the latter part of the 1920s things become clear.
So it is a surprise that John Vance Milne known as “Jackie” and perhaps sometimes “Jack” has caused a problem.
I am fairly sure he was born on 25 March 1911 in Stirling, and his clubs were, in order Glasgow Ashfield, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Middlesbrough and Dunbarton. He also played for Scotland twice, which means we really ought to be able to find out more, and be able to record the date of his passing, unless he has wonderfully lived to be 103.
We know that he played just 45 times for Blackburn and so it looks like in signing him Allison was taking a bit of a punt as he tried to refresh the Arsenal team. We had won the league for the third successive time in 1934/5, and clearly the thought was that new blood was needed to keep the dominance of the league going.
Jackie started in the opening match of the 1935/6 season and played in all the first 11 games. But after that he made just three further appearances.
In that 1935/6 season when Arsenal lost their crown and sank to 6th the wing situation was a problem for Allison. Bastin played at 11 a few times, along with Beasley, while got games at number 7. Rogers and Kirchen both also tried their luck on the wings, but no settled placing could be found.
All of which means that Milne was injured or deemed not up to the mark.
Jackie’s first game of his second season was on September 9 1936 against Brentford where he played outside right but it wasn’t until 7 November 1936 that he started a long run of games at outside left where we had already used Beasley and Compton. Jackie held the position until 13 February after which he got just one more game being replaced by Dennis Compton. He did however play on March 6 in the 6th round of the cup against West Brom, but was apparently injured and unable to complete the match.
Jackie Milne started for the club on the wing in 1937/8 but played his last game on 11 December 1937 with the Boy Bastin taking over the number 11 as George Allison moved the team around yet again
He was never central to the Arsenal team but he played for three seasons and was able to gain a league winners’ medal in 1937/8.
In addition to the league games above he played 5 FA Cup matches although without scoring.
One report I have says that he left the club “unexpectedly” after making a final appearance against Preston on 12 February 1938 in the FA Cup 5th round, which Arsenal lost 0-1.
His career would have been cut short by the second world war, for by the time the war was ended in 1945 he was (assuming he was still alive) 34. It would be good to know what happened to him later, and indeed if he served his country in the conflict, to record that fact too.
If you do know, please do write in.