Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No7 – One of the Finest Inside-Rights Ever Seen

Arsenal’s Century Club – David Jack

David Jack 4 (1) 

Born in Bolton, Lancashire, David started his career with his father’s club, Plymouth Argyle in 1919. There he scored 15 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions. In 1920 he returned to the town of his birth, moving to Bolton Wanderers for £3,500. He spent eight seasons with the Trotters, forming a formidable partnership with Joe Smith, and between them they scored over 300 goals. While at Bolton, he made history by being the first person to score a goal at Wembley Stadium, in the 1923 FA Cup Final; Bolton won 2–0 and Jack earned his first medal.

David Jack 2 (1)

A year later, he won his first England cap, in a 1–2 defeat against Wales on 3 March 1924. In eight years he played eight times for his country and scored three times. He continued to have success with Bolton, winning the FA Cup again in 1925–26, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win over Manchester City. He was the club’s top scorer for five of the eight seasons he was there, scoring 144 goals in 295 league matches.

In 1928, with Bolton in financial trouble, he was signed by Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal for £10,890 (nearly double the previous record).

Here is the complete story of when Herbert Chapman signed David Jack.

Once upon a time, Arsenal actually spent big in order to attract quality players and their free spending ways attracted criticism from the Football Association.

David Jack was well known to football fans when Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman signed him for a record £10,890 in 1928.

The striker had scored the first ever goal at Wembley (the stadium had just been built) when his Bolton team beat West Ham in the 1923 FA Cup final, but the fee appalled some.

Sir Charles Clegg, head of the Football Association, believed no player was worth £10,000, but it could have been worse given Bolton initially asked for £13,000 – double the previous transfer record set by Sunderland when they bought Bob Kelly from Burnley in 1925.

Chapman, though, had a trick up his sleeve according to club secretary Bob Wall when he invited a Bolton delegation to London for drinks.

Wall was just 16 at the time and carrying out minor admin duties when he accompanied Chapman to the ‘meeting’.

Instructing the barman to give his guests whatever they wanted as long as they were double measures, Chapman explained he would be drinking gin and tonic and his young assistant was on the whiskey and ginger.

Except the barman, whose pockets were now stuffed with Chapman’s cash, was to leave the gin and whiskey out.

So, many rounds later when the Bolton lot were feeling merry, a very sober Chapman was able to haggle the price.


But surely Jack was passed his best at 29 years old anyway?

No is the simple answer. He finished the season as top scorer and in 1930 won the FA Cup again to become the first player to win the trophy with two different clubs at Wembley.

They were magical times for Gooners, with Jack playing in one of the most devastating attacks the game has seen alongside Joe Hulme, Alex James, Jack Lambert and Cliff Bastin who was dazzled by his team-mate’s talent.

“David was one of the finest inside-rights I ever saw,” he explained in his autobiography Cliff Bastin Remembers.

“An amazing natural body swerve and a terrific shot made him a terror to defences,” he added.

In addition to FA Cup glory, Jack won three league titles and scored 124 times in 208 matches before retiring in 1934.

Intended as a replacement for retired captain Charlie Buchan, David was a success at Highbury. He made his debut against Newcastle United on 20 October 1928, and became a regular straight away. He was the club’s top scorer for the 1928–29 season. Although less prolific than centre-forward Jack Lambert, he still scored important goals, including the one in the 1929–30 FA Cup semi-final against Hull City which sent Arsenal through to the final; Arsenal beat Huddersfield Town 2–0 in the final and he became the first player to win the Cup at Wembley with two different clubs.

David Jack 1 (1)

He continued to feature for Arsenal through the early 1930s, recording a personal best of 34 goals in Arsenal’s First Division-winning season of 1930–31. He won two more titles in 1932–33 and 1933–34; however by the time of the latter he was in his mid-30s and reaching the end of his career, with competition for his place from new signing Ray Bowden meant Jack played only 16 matches that season. He retired soon after winning his third league medal, in May 1934. In all he scored 124 times in 208 matches for Arsenal.

Arsenal 1930 FA Cup winners medal (1)

After retiring from playing, he went on to become manager of Southend United, and then Middlesbrough. He also managed League of Ireland side Shelbourne from the summer of 1953 to April 1955.

He passed away 1958, aged 59.

David’s 100th goal for Arsenal was scored against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury on April 16th 1932.

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
7 David Jack 1928-34 208 156 124 0.60
8 Doug Lishman 1948-56 244 163 137 0.56
9 David Herd 1954-61 180 165 107 0.59
10 Cliff Bastin 1929-46 396 174 178 0.45
11 Thierry Henry 1999-07 377 181 226 0.60
12 Olivier Giroud 2012-18 253 237 105 0.42
13 RVP 2004-12 278 238 132 0.47
14 Alan Smith 1987-95 347 251 115 0.33
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.



16 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No7 – One of the Finest Inside-Rights Ever Seen

  • Cheers GN5, another well researched post about a former hero – one that even you have never seen! Also good to see that sometimes players came down from the North when they are at their best rather than the other way round.

    Really good inside-rights are not really our forte, GN5. Maybe Pepe can become one…

  • Great statistics, as always, GN.
    And quite a funny anecdote with the barman conspiracy. 🙂

    Even with inflation taken into consideration, the 13.000Ł seem like a bag of peanuts compared to today’s prices in the range of 100-200M.

  • I never tire of reading about our great Chapman/Allison teams and this piece didn’t disappoint.
    There are quite a few Arsenal players who I wished I could have seen and David Jack is in my top three. Having seen some newsreel footage of him on and off of the pitch I feel that there was an elegance about him, he always looked smart and he seemed to play the game on a different level. I have heard him compared to Dennis Bergkamp by some old timers i used to chat to in the late 1990’s who saw Jack play.

    £10,890 sounds a pittance by today’s standards but I believe it was a world record and it stood for 10 years in Great Britain, imagine a transfer record standing for TEN years, impossible to imagine.
    Maybe the Great Depression had an effect?

    Arsenal broke their own transfer record in 1938 with the signing of Wolves inside forward Bryan Jones, for £13,000 – another huge transfer fee in those days. Bryan Jones was signed with a view to being the eventual successor to the mercurial Alex James, but the Second World War cost him his Arsenal career.

    I did a quick comparison and by today’s standards £10,890 equates to £689,294.61 in today’s money and £13,000 works out at £822,849.39.
    Both considerable sums but nothing compared to the crazy £198m paid for Neymar by PSG.

  • That’s right TA – David Jack is the second player on the list to have finished his career at Arsenal before I started watching. The teams of the 30’s were on a level of their own and it just proves that a good/great manager makes an enormous difference. Here is an accounting of the days prior to his death – Herbert Chapman celebrated New Year in London before traveling north on a scouting trip to see Bury play Notts County on 1 January 1934. The following day, he traveled to his native Yorkshire to watch Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal’s next opponents, before spending a final night in his home town of Kiveton Park. He returned to London nursing a cold but was well enough to watch an Arsenal third team match against Guildford City. Soon afterwards, his illness suddenly worsened; pneumonia set in, and Chapman quickly succumbed. He died in the early hours of 6 January 1934 at his home in Hendon.He was buried four days later in St Mary’s Churchyard, Hendon.

    I often muse over just how great the Arsenal what might have been if Chapman had lived longer or WW11 have not occurred……………..

  • Good piece GN5. In the Cliff Bastin era, no less, and some things in history it is supposed to happen that way. Sad to hear the way Chapman died and he was one a few Arsenal managers that played the Total Football mentality.

  • I guess that when the matches resume next month that the fixtures will just continue as they were arranged, therefore our next game will be Man City (a) on either June 19th, 20th or 21st.

    Still nothing from the FA concerning the FACup, our route into the Europa, whenever that will be.

    Is there any point in using Wembley for the semi finals or even the final?
    We could have some old fashioned semi finals at Villa Park or Hillsborough or Elland Road?
    And the final, what about Stamford Bridge or even Crystal Palace – different stadium I know but a blast from the past?

  • I really don’t know, Kev, but I will go with your logic. Man City in an empty stadium will be something to watch. There really doesn’t seem to be a home advantage in the German games, so we could get something from the game.

    To be honest I don’t feel there should be any games between now and August at the earliest.

  • Well I guess that it’s in the hands of the lawyers, as it usually is Total, if the lawyers say no, then you might be proved right about August!

    The only clubs that I can see that will come out of all this unaffected will be those heavily subsidised like Chelsea, Man City and the new kids on the block Newcastle. There’s always winners and losers from these kinds of tragedies, as we all know.

    I notice that there’s been an increase in injuries since the Bundesliga restarted, maybe having 5 available subs is the way to go?

  • Not sure they will, Kev, unless the financial fair play rules get relaxed. Clubs can only spend what they have earned and both Chelsea and Man City will have high costs and reduced income this and next season. Same goes for us of course.

  • Well the fair play in FFP is a bit of a laugh isn’t it Total, didn’t one of the Abu Dhabi crowd threaten to take UEFA through every Law Court available if UEFA applied some of its rules to Man City last year, I’m not sure how that came out, I suspect that it’s the current case going through the sports court at this time, Champions League and all that jazz?

    When the Saudis complete on the Newcastle deal there is, I’m sure, a window of opportunity where they can spend a lot more than what they earn, so that’s a loophole for a major spend up this summer I’d imagine and conveniently into a seriously deflated market where you’ll get a lot more for your buck.

    Newcastle could well do a Chelsea this summer outbidding for almost everyone decent whose available with clubs desperately needing to sell. So the likes of James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Thomas Partey could possibly end up in a Newcastle shirt, one big deal and the floodgates could open?

    Then there’s sponsorship, an area where the Saudis could really exploit and where the dead hand of Mike Ashley failed miserably except for his own budget sportswear company.

    Steve Bruce won’t be around long I suspect, with Pochettino looking for a new project and a shed load to spend, an attractive project methinks?

    Rafa Benitez is an option, a top manager who the Geordie fans love who could work wonders if he is financially backed by the owners, although getting out of his Chinese contract could prove problematic.

    A long shot would be Massimiliano Allegri, would a project like that at a club that last won a trophy in 1969 be attractive to him? Newcastle and Juventus sharing a similar shirt could make him think that it’s fate that he ends up at St James’ Park?

    The Saudis don’t do things half hearted, they’ll throw money at it and we could see a very different the top six/top four in a couple of years time?

  • It’s hard to relate to players of the 30’s era – but given the equipment they used and the conditions of the grounds they played in I have the upmost respect for them. So far on the list only two players have been able to score as many as .60 goals per game – David Jack and Thierry Henry – so Jack is in very elite company.

  • You could be right re that scenario/ those scenarios, Kev. in order for FFP to work we have to trust in it/ take it seriously. I do.

    Re the Barcodes… let’s hope it will all fall through but with Britain out of the EU anything can happen next.

  • Well we was in the EU when Abu Dhabi took over at Man City so I’m not too sure that being in the EU has any real effect Total, but who knows? 😉

    I wish I had as much faith in FFP as you do mate, but it let Arsenal Wenger down and I’ve no reason to think that it won’t disappoint again, sadly… ☹️

    Having said that, it’s all we’ve got between us and the barbarians so I suppose it has to be in FFP we trust… 🙂

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