Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No9 – Another One We Let Go ‘Up-North’ Far Too Readily

Arsenal’s Century Club – David Herd

Football F.A. Cup 6th Round 1957: Arsenal V
David Herd heads Ars

David Herd was born on 15 April 1934 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, his mother went north to family just prior to his birth so he could qualify for Scotland like his father.

His father helped Manchester City win the FA cup a few weeks after David’s birth; David grew up in Moss Side beginning his professional career at Stockport County as an amateur in 1950. He signed professionally a year later and in May 1951 played as a 17 year old in the same Stockport forward line up as his 39 year old father Alec. David scored in the 2-0 win.

Herd caught the eye of Matt Busby in 1952 but a hiccup scuppered the transfer deal and he remained at Edgeley Park in the 3rd Division North. National Service intervened and for two years he was in the RAF, and a few hours after his demobilization Tom Whittaker swooped to purchase him on 24 August 1954 for £10,000.

Herd made his Arsenal debut on 19 February 1955 at home to Leicester and took a while to bed into the team, but between 1957-1961 he was the leading Arsenal goal scorer for four successive seasons. One of these goals was scored for the Gunners in the Busby Babes’ last match on English soil, a 4-5 defeat at Highbury on 1 February 1958, often noted as one of the greatest ever games.

David Herd 4 (1)

For Arsenal Herd scored 107 goals in 180 appearances. At one point an explosive right foot missile of his was timed at 72.5 mph, it being no surprise he was nicknamed “Hot Shot” Herd. He is the club’s 16th highest ever goal scorer, with a hit ratio of 0.594 goals per game, which places him just outside the all time top ten of Arsenal’s best strike rates. He also played 85 games in the reserves and scored 46 goals, one of which was in the 1954-55 final of the London FA Challenge Cup in which Arsenal beat West Ham.

His final match for the club came on 29 April 1961 at Everton, where he scored in a 1-4 defeat. Despite all his goals the best League position while at the club was third in 1958-59, and it would have been understandable were he to look elsewhere for the chance of honours. This course of action appeared to be encouraged as manager George Swindin offered him as a makeweight in deals for both Denis Law and George Eastham in March and September 1960. More than hinting he was not part of the manager’s longer term plans, it was somewhat ironic as Herd ended up the 2nd highest scorer in the whole of the top flight during the 1960-61 season.

david herd 5 (1)

Consequently, Herd moved to Manchester United on 26th July 1961 for £40,000. There he won 2 League and 1 FA cup winners medals, and he also received a European Cup winners medal as a squad member. A broken leg in 1967 put paid to his position in their forward pecking order. He is 13th in Manchester United’s all-time goal scoring list, 145 goals from 265 appearances, which was almost identical to his scoring ratio while at Arsenal.

On 15 July 1968 he moved to Stoke City on a free transfer, and then onto Waterford briefly in 1970 before ending his playing career which had seen him net 272 times in 516 appearances!

A Scotland international, he scored 3 times in the 5 occasions he appeared for his country between 1958-61. All of these caps were won at Arsenal which aside from being a ridiculously low total for such a natural goal scorer, is an indictment of the SFA in repeatedly ignoring a title winning forward.

A short spell as manager of Lincoln City in the early 1970s saw the his football career come to a halt and he ran a number of Manchester based car garages before retiring in 1999. He also enjoyed playing golf and cricket.

David Herd passed away on 1 October 2016. 

Former Arsenal, Manchester United and Scotland centre forward David Herd passed away on October 1st, 2016, after a five-year battle against vascular d. 

He joined the Gunners in what is now known as “The Dark Era”. The team which had won the FA Cup in 1950 and the League in 1953 was breaking up and during Herd’s seven years in North London, the Gunners never finished better than third. That was in 1958-59, the season in which Herd won the first of his five Scottish caps, when he was one of four debutantes named for the opening Home International of the season, against Wales, in Cardiff. 

He left football to enter the motor trade in the Manchester area, running a garage in Urmston right up until he reached retirement age in 1999. 

He had first invested in the business in 1965, already looking ahead to the end of his playing career. It gave him ample opportunity to indulge in his love of fast cars, while his sporting instincts were satisfied by his long-time membership of Ashton-on-Mersey Golf Club – where he had a low handicap for many years, and by playing cricket for various club sides around his home in South Manchester. 

A “destructive” batsman, he was still playing first-team cricket into his 60s, while, away from the sports field, he enjoyed cruising holidays, visited Malta at least once each year and made two trips back to Scotland each year, to see family and to attend the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrew’s, which he loved.    

David scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on January 1st 1961 at Highbury, it was the third goal in his third hat trick of the season.


19 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No9 – Another One We Let Go ‘Up-North’ Far Too Readily

  • Very well written post, GN5. I guess you saw him play a few times?! 😀

    A real shame Arsenal let him go in his prime and he ended up being successful with the Mancs rather than us.

  • Fine report, as always, GN5. It’s rare to have a father and son pair as team mates in a senior team game, so hats off to the Herds. I know I have read about him some time, in the recent past, very likely in a post about gunners moving North. Looks like (on the subject) the more things change, the more they stay the same. It must be said, though, that in years past, the rivalry between the clubs (Arsenal and United) wasn’t so fierce as to find such a transfer discomfiting.

  • David Herd is one of the players that goes through the major clubs like so many players of the current modern game: Stay at a club for a few years, do well, and carry on. Some left on good terms, some left on ok terms but in the end they were hated (Ade).

    GN5, I see that you left out the table.

  • Good Morning all,

    Njk84, The table was included in my post TA might have had a problem in posting it.

    TA – I can the table separately if you wish

  • For some reason WordPress does not like that table and I cannot insert it. Next post will have the latest table in it! 🙂

  • Hi fellas…I’m up a bit early–and the weather has gone wintry again–so time for my (weekly, more or less…) check-in.

    As always, GN5, the series delivers…and so apropos to be writing about the Herds when it appears that’s the sort of immunity we’ll be seeking as the ‘Rona response moves into it’s new phase…

    (Here’s an excellent if longer read about where we’re headed…or being herded…or something… Read it–instead of the navel gazing below–if you’re on a word-limit…

    From everything I’m getting, it appears we’re back to an every man (and woman/child, though those groups seem less affected by the virus) for himself sort of idea. Stay home if you can, but not if you’re needed at work…or if you need the work. Our government seems to have stopped the presses…or at least there’s a resistance to continued printing of money and sending it out to the corporations and (a tiny bit for) the people, which, as we (now) know (after a famous court case here in the States called Citizens United) are one and the same.

    I must admit, of course, that it leads to a (very) selfish style of thinking and that’s where my head is at. We’re watching the markets (down these past three days) and thinking about how to move money around in order to pay for various (family) things (while, naturally, paying as little tax as possible). My mom and (her twin sister my aunt) have stopped paying on the senior housing apartment they weren’t using (due to the extreme lock-down conditions there), so we’ll be needing to use that money to find them some (longer term) help at my aunt’s little townhouse. And then there’s trying to figure out how to pay for my boy’s university education, which seems awfully silly if it’s all going to be done on a computer screen.

    All of this will require getting up off the sofa and moving around a bit. I’ll need my ancient Datsun truck to move my mom and aunt’s stuff from one place to another (or into some sort of storage space) and then, at some point, I need to get back to Mexico to drive my ‘Zuki back north. (And, JK, I know some of the off-road Suzukis can be uncomfortable, but I find my 2012 SX4 with its 6 forwards gears to be the best touring vehicle I’ve ever driven…though I did own a late 70s Saab which I called a hotel room on wheels–except every other month when it needed major servicing…) If I fly back down to Mexico, surely I’ll want to spend some time working on that place and getting in the ocean and maybe even buying that new car I mentioned and riding it around a bit just to see what’s happening in that (very different) part of the world…

    Will that mean that I’ll actually miss the Arsenal games when they’re back on? We shall see…And, I must say, I cannot fathom that it’s actually going to happen… Maybe this is something we should be discussing?…

    In the meantime, I’m happy to keep talking about Arsenal history (even if nobody responded to my stuff about “modern” Arsenal strikers)–or maybe about just plain history (like GN5’s WWII stories), the more personal the story, the better, I think…

  • Hey TA… I was actually having trouble posting the above ^^^…and I was thinking how I might get into WordPress (using my alter ego, the guy you see when you stare in the mirror), but I just tried again and it worked (for better or worse) a couple of hours on…

    For what it’s worth, I feel like that NY Times article (also above) has helped me place my own struggles into a(n) historical context so that I’m more sanguine with taking care of myself and doing my own thing amidst the (mostly unconscious) class warfare (which in our country–or countries–maybe, mean race warfare…) that the pandemic invites.

    From such a perspective, maybe the re-opening of the football, suggests that the gladiatorial class (footballers) is being sent out (amidst the lions, or potential illness) while “we” get to enjoy it on our big screens… It thus is far from ironic that the UFC (cage fighting) has never been stopped and that the WWF (in Florida, at least–and the TrumpStar is in the “Wrestling” Hall of Fame, as y’all probably know…) was deemed an “essential” business.

    When you get too close in, it’s a crazy world, but backing out and (or) looking through a more historical lens, and it all makes a bit more sense…

  • Cheers 17HT, the article needs logging in to…. don’t fancy that. Things are different here in Scotland: not everyone is on their own/out for their own at all. You my friend need to move country! 🙂

    Hope you will be able to go to Mexico soon..

  • Things are easing up down in S.E.England 17tino, people are going back to work, many of them have no choice, they don’t do jobs that they can do from home unlike middle class journalists.

    I know plenty of people who have continued to work, the lights would go out if they didn’t and we wouldn’t be able to do our shopping if people didn’t go to work – or have things delivered by that famous tax avoiding giant Amazon. But don’t worry the tech companies have been making a fortune while the world economy has fallen off of a cliff and China will do ok.

    Both my sons have worked throughout, they don’t complain, they just get on with it mate, it’s what they do. One of them works in a care home.
    My cousin drives a bus in London, 29 TfL employees have died of the virus but he keeps going to work and a few taxi drivers have died because of the Wuhan surprise and if it was worth my while I would also go out to work, I can’t earn a living tapping on a keyboard unfortunately.
    Sadly there’s no work in London for black taxi drivers although the NHS management are advertising mini cabs to their staff, you know, the same mini cabs whose corporations avoid paying tax. What a crazy world we live in…

  • Guys, the world is now making money more on Youtube rather than physically going out. We still need delivery people and people driving the buses and the tubes, and also the people running the hospitals, and maybe the construction sector, but the rest are comfortably working from home and driving the economy via video calls and online meetings.

    17ht, yes. Suzukis are well known for their floppiness, and stiffness, but I am glad that you liked your long distance drive. Which new vehicle are you contemplating to get?

  • Speaking about Youtube, maybe we should try to do something fun.. Why not take GN5’s series of posts to do a Youtube video? I haven’t seen such a video before on the best attackers ever.

  • Kev, what about other parts of the England? Are you allowed to cab in your neighbourhood or something?

  • I feel for you, Kev, and it sounds that your problems are of a different magnitude compared to Seventeenho’s. Nobody should be losing out financially and nobody should be asked to work without proper protection. It is very sad that so many transport staff have died and I can understand the anger of them. It is unacceptable. Given your age I would be very careful (as I am myself) by being in close contact with passengers/people in general. Is there nothing else that you can do to keep ticking over financially? Sell your matchday booklets?! 😉 Look after yourself, Kev.

  • Hi 84, I know of cab drivers who have continued to work throughout, especially if they’re local, some have given free rides to NHS staff whilst surviving on state benefit, nothing has stopped any of us working except for the complete lack of customers.

    The reason I haven’t bothered is a combination of reasons, but if the work had been there I would still have travelled into London.

    I hope that you and your family are safe, I have no knowledge of the levels of infection that you’ve suffered in Singapore but as you are close to China I would imagine that you’ve experienced some disruption.

  • Thank Total, I appreciate your sentiments but I’m absolutely fine financially, but we’re all going to have to pay a price when this is over but what else can we expect, what we’re experiencing is unprecedented, everyone is learning on the hoof.

  • So true Kev. we are paying a price right now and the economical and psychological, political impact will last for years. Yet some good things will also come from this. The 1348 Black Death Pandemic led to more power and self-awareness of the British (mainly peasant) workers which was a vital change with lasting impact. Hopefully something similar will happen this time, even though I don’t know what it will look like. Fairness in tax paying has to be one of the changes.

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