Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: Nr15 – First man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals

Arsenal’s Century Club – Frank Stapleton

Frank Stapleton (1)

Francis Anthony “Frank” Stapleton was born 10 July 1956 in Dublin.

Frank was a tough tackling forward who was an especially good header of the ball. He started his career with Arsenal, joining them in 1972 as an apprentice, after being turned down by Manchester United. He made his first-team debut in 1975 against Stoke City, and went on to form a potent striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald; the two scored 46 goals between them in 1976–77. He was Arsenal’s top scorer for the three following seasons, and helped the Gunners reach a trio of FA Cup finals; Stapleton scored one of the goals in Arsenal’s 1979 FA Cup Final 3–2 win over Manchester United, and scored 108 goals in 300 appearances in total for the Gunners.

Frank Stapleton with Cup (1)

Stapleton went on to move to Manchester United in 1981 for £900,000 (a fee set by tribunal after the two clubs could not agree). He helped United win the 1983 and 1985 FA Cups. It was in the first of those finals, when he scored against Brighton, in which Stapleton made history by becoming the first man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals. He left United in 1987, after scoring 78 goals for the club in 365 matches.

frank stapleton ajax

He went on to play for Ajax Amsterdam, before returning to England with Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Aldershot, Huddersfield Town (as player-coach) and Bradford City, where he spent three seasons after a brief period at Le Havre in France. After being sacked as Bradford’s player-manager in 1994, he had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1994–95 season, playing two games before finally announcing his retirement as a player.

In 1996 Frank moved to the United States to manage Major League Soccer side New England Revolution.

His team was one of only two which did not reach the play offs in Major League Soccer’s inaugural season; he endured a season long battle with the club’s star player and a running feud with some of its more vocal supporters. In the end, however, it was what he perceived as a “vicious” media campaign and the effect it was having on his family that led Frank Stapleton to tender his resignation as coach of the New England Revolution  in the last week of the season.

Styles of the day (1)

“I just don’t need any more pressure put on my family,” said Stapleton. “I’m trained to deal with this stuff, but just because you’re married to a footballer doesn’t mean she (wife Chris) can cope with it. Your kids and your family are not immune. I tried to keep them away from it as much as possible, but.” In a 17 year professional career at Arsenal, Manchester United, and Ajax, he thought he had endured the best the English tabloid press could dish out, but, he said on a personal level, this was even worse. “I don’t expect not to be criticised, but this became an ongoing situation. It was as if there was a rivalry between the Boston papers to see who could be the most vicious.”

His 100 goal was scored on December 6th, 1980 against Wolverhampton at Highbury. 

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
15 Frank Stapleton 1972-81 300 276 108 0.36
16 Denis Bergkamp 1995-06 423 296 120 0.28
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.







19 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: Nr15 – First man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals

  • Great post and pictures, GN5. Top stuff.

    A shame Frank went to Manure – players who do that lose a lot of respect from me. Especially when they had refused him much earlier in his career. More later from me.

  • I remember him making his debut as a very raw teenager vs Stoke City.
    Always rated him, but was gutted when he joined Man Utd.
    Looking back now I don’t blame him, Arsenal had zero ambition during that period.
    It took David Dein and George Graham to shake the club out of its inertia.

    Frank scoring at the City Ground in the FACup is a fond memory, Forest were a great side at the time, it was one hell of a game especially as I’d gone up there earlier in the season and see us get well beaten in the League.
    Scoring against Wolves with a rasping drive in the FAC S/F at Villa Park was another great memory of Frank, he was tough as old boots but a great centre forward. Equally proficient in the air and on the deck, never shirked a challenge, brave as a lion. Such a shame it ended as it did as he should have been an Arsenal legend.

  • Gn5 you have done it again. I was a huge fan of FrankStapleton during his time at Arsenal. I have to a admit in all the years Have followed Arsenal I have only ever seen first team games. I remember at the time seeing the match day programmes and seeing this young lad scoring a bucket load of goals for the reserves and wasn’t it the South East Counties league at the time?Then as soon as he made the first team he went goal crazy again. loved the guy to death and then he spoilt it all. From memory, he was just about the perfect Centre forward, powerful and very good in the air.

  • Hi Retsub, hows it going?
    I used to watch a lot of youth games and the reserves at that time, so I saw all these lads coming through, never saw O’Leary though, he was pretty much fast tracked into the first team, but yeah we did have a great crop of youngsters coming through during that period, Brady, Matthews, Powling, Stapleton, Ross, Rostron, O’Leary, Rix and Devine. Then it just dried up until the Adams, Rocastle generation.

    Back in those days teams played with two strikers, normally a centre forward with a more nippy guy playing off of him, we had Stapleton and Sunderland, after the injury and retirement of Malcolm MacDonald, and what a brilliant partnership they were.

  • Great footage of the feted man. Was he left or right footed… hard to tell! Obviously a great partnership between him and Liam Brady. At times they seem to move like chess pieces in the box in order to create the best chance for a goal.

  • One great player is was so good to see some of his goals again, I cannot think of a player in the game today how scored so many goals with his head. Just what you need in a striker, robust, quick, two footed, and a great header of the ball – the Man U connection is very regrettable.

    I may not be around much today, it’s income tax time, I usually have it done by an accountant but his office is closed, due to covid-19, so I have to try to figure it out myself.

  • Income tax…. there is an ideal cure for insomnia! 🙂

    I guess Giroud is quite comparable with FS. Ollie would have loved playing footie at that time.

  • Don’t know much about him, but hey, I like the fashion sense in that group pic. Perhaps, more from me later. 😎

  • It was certainly the way I dressed in the late 50’s early 60’s TA. Hand made suits, jackets, trousers, and overcoats from Levene Bro’s at 130 Shoreditch High Street, hand made shoes and shirts – those were the days my friend, You could buy lots of trendy and sharp clothing on Carnaby Street which was the hangout for the “mods”.

  • What, TA? You aren’t suggesting one of those standing is GN5, are you? 🤓😝

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