Arsenal’s Century Club – Jack Lambert
Born in Greasbrough near Rotherham, Yorkshire, Lambert was turned down by Sheffield Wednesday after a trial in 1921, so he started his career playing for Rotherham County in 1922. He soon made a move to Leeds United, but spent three years there with little success. He finally came to prominence after becoming a regular goal scorer for Doncaster Rovers, joining the side in January 1925.
Playing in Yorkshire, he had attracted the attention of Herbert Chapman when the latter was manager of Huddersfield Town. Chapman became Arsenal manager in 1925 and needing a quality centre-forward, he signed Jack for £2,000 in June 1926. Lambert initially struggled to get into the first-team and he did not make his league debut until the beginning of the following season against Bolton Wanderers on 6th September 1926.
Lambert scored only one goal in 16 appearances that season and was not selected for the FA Cup Final against Cardiff City. Over the next two seasons he was reserve centre-forward to Jimmy Brain and only scored 4 goals in 22 appearances.
When he appeared in the first-team he was often barracked by the crowd. Herbert Chapman was furious and proposed that barrackers should be thrown out of the ground if they did not respond to an appeal for fairness over the loud-speaker.
He became a regular for the club towards the end of the 1929-30 season; scoring 18 times in only 20 league appearances. The following season (1930-31) he was even more successful, scoring 38 goals in just 34 games in the League, a club record at the time. Arsenal won their first ever First Division Championship with a record 66 points. The Gunners only lost four games that season. Jack Lambert was top-scorer with 38 goals. This included seven hat-tricks against Middlesbrough (home and away), Grimsby Town, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City and Sunderland.
In the 1932-33 season Arsenal won the First Division by four points. Lambert only played in 12 games that season but he still scored 14 goals. This included five in a 9-2 win over Sheffield United. By now Jack was over 30 and only a bit-part player (Ernie Coleman having led the front line through most of 1932-33), and the signing of Jimmy Dunne in September 1933 forced him out of the side; his last game came on 13 September 1933 against West Bromwich Albion.
Herbert Chapman seemed to have lost confidence in Jack and frustrated by his lack of first-team opportunities, he agreed to be transferred to Fulham for £2,500 in October 1933. He only played for two more seasons before retiring in 1935. The following year he became coach of Margate (who at the time were Arsenal’s “nursery” club) and returned to Arsenal in 1938 as a coach of the club’s reserve side.
Overall he scored 109 goals in 161 games for the Gunners, a very high ratio of .68 goals per game, but it wasn’t enough for him ever to be selected for England.
Jack scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on Guy Fawkes Day 1932 against Wolves at Molineux Stadium.
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|
Tragically, he died at the age of 38, killed in a car accident (during WW11) in Enfield, Middlesex.