Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No3 – Shared Record Hattrick Scorer/ First to Leave for Spurs

Arsenal’s Century Club – Jimmy Brain

Jimmy Brain 4 (1) 

Well here we are – we have now reached the top 3 in Arsenal’s Century Club.

James (Jimmy) Brain was born in Bristol on 11th September 1900. He played in local football in Wales before joining Arsenal at the age of 23 in August 1923. He did not make his league debut until the following season he played against Tottenham Hotspur on 25th October 1924 and scored the only goal of the game (what a way to make yourself known to Arsenal fans). During the 1924-25 season he scored 14 goals in 31 games, including a hat-trick against Burnley and four in a game against Leeds United.

Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton was sacked at the end of the 1924-25 season and Herbert Chapman, the manager of Huddersfield Town, was persuaded to join Arsenal.

The first man that Herbert Chapman signed was Charlie Buchan, who had scored 209 goals in 380 games for Sunderland. Chapman also purchased Herbert Roberts, Joe Hume and Cliff Bastin. In the 1925-26 season Arsenal finished in second-place to Huddersfield Town. The top scorer was Jimmy Brain with 37 goals in 47 games. This included four hat-tricks against Everton (2), Cardiff City and Bury.

The Arsenal chairman, Henry Norris did not allow Chapman to buy new players to strengthen his team and in the 1926-27 season Arsenal finished in 11th position. Brain scored 34 goals in 44 games that season which included a hat-trick against Cardiff City and scored four against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. In the 1927-28 season Brain scored 29 goals in 44 games. This included two hat-tricks against Derby County and Liverpool. Arsenal finished 9th in 1928-29 and Jimmy scored 22 goals in 42 games.

Jimmy Brain 1 (1)

Herbert Chapman gradually adapted the “WM” formation that had originally been suggested by Charlie Buchan. Chapman used his full-backs to mark the wingers (that job had previously been done by the wing-halves). He also developed what became known as the counter-attacking game. This relied on the passing ability of Alex James and goal scoring forwards like Jimmy Brain, David Jack, Joe Hume, Cliff Bastin, and Jack Lambert. Chapman also built up a good defence that included players such as Bob John, Eddie Hapgood, Herbert Roberts, Alf Baker, Tom Parker and George Male.



Jimmy’s form dropped off in 1929-30, and he competed for his position with Jack Lambert, David Jack and Dave Halliday, meaning he only played six league matches in that season. He missed the Gunners’ 1930 Cup final win over Huddersfield Town; David Jack and Jack Lambert led the line that day. However, the following season, 1930-31, Jimmy finally won a medal as 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. Brain scored 4 goals in 18 games and therefore qualified for a league championship medal. His final appearance in an Arsenal shirt was a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on 21 March 1931.

Crossing the North London divide between Arsenal and Tottenham can be one of the most inflammatory actions in English football. Sol Campbell, Emmanuel Adebayor, and William Gallas have all done it in recent times, all feeling the wrath of both sides supporters. But who was the first to do it?

The man with this dubious badge of honour is none other than Jimmy Brain. In September 1931 Brain was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur. Over the next three years he scored 10 goals in 45 games.

He played his final years out at Swansea Town and Bristol City. After retiring as a player, he managed first King’s Lynn and then Cheltenham Town from 1939 until 1948, after which he retired completely from football.

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
3 Jimmy Brain 1923-31 232 144 140 0.60
4 Jack Lambert 1923-33 161 149 109 0.68
5 Reg Lewis 1935-53 176 152 118 0.67
6 Joe Baker 1962-66 156 152 100 0.64
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.

In total, he scored 140 goals in 232 appearances for Arsenal, making him the Gunners’ joint-fifth top scorer of all time. However, he never played for England; he managed to secure a trial for the national team but was never actually selected.

Jimmy Brain and Jack Lambert share the record of each scoring 12 hat tricks for Arsenal.

He scored his 100th goal against Sheffield United on January 7th, 1928.

He died in 1971, at the age of 71.


11 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No3 – Shared Record Hattrick Scorer/ First to Leave for Spurs

  • Thanks GN5 for another fine post about a former Arsenal great. 12 career hattricks is very impressive: 25% of all his goals for Arsenal were part of a hattrick!

    A shame he went to the dark side but luckily he didn’t score many for them haha 😀

  • Charlie Buchan had a long connection with Arsenal, he was actually on the Arsenal ground staff as a youngster but fell out with the club as they refused to reimburse him the tram fare from South East London to North London, so he joined Charlton, if I recall correctly and from there he moved to Sunderland.

  • Yeah, back in those days and actually up to quite recently, you had to play a minimum of 14 league games to qualify for a championship medal, it seems crazy by modern standards but that’s how it was. So we had the crazy situation of a long servant like Jon Sammels missing out on a medal in 1970/71 because he made only 13 appearances. I think the club retrospectively awarded him a special medal a few years later, but it’s not really the same is it…

    Intelligent people are often absent minded and with so much going on didn’t Bob Wilson, who was the goalkeeping coach at the time, have to remind Arsene Wenger to bring on Stuart Taylor in the final EPL of 2001/02 so that Stuart qualified for a medal as he was on 9 games ( by then the qualifying had reduced from 14 to 10 games)…

  • Great post btw GunnerN5, I find the 1920’s quite an interesting period in Arsenal’s history, an era where the club was still finding its feet in North London after moving from Plumstead and where it began its development from an underachiever into a best club in England.

  • Good morning, Thank you for the comments.

    TA, I guess Jimmy would not like tp be remembered as the first Arsenal player ti cross over to the cockerels.

    Allezkev, I written multiple posts on Arsenal’s past and like yourself I found the very early days to be the most intriguing I’ll look them up and see if I can consolidate them into a few posts,

  • Kev, I feel that any player part of the official squad, whether they played 56 or 0 games, should be given a medal if the team become chapions/cup winners. Teams are made on the training ground and all contribute to it, one way or another.

  • Jimmy Brain and Jack Lambert played on the same team and they both scored 100 goals in less than a 150 games; it took Henry (as great as he was) 181 games. Plus the conditions (either mud baths or bumpy fields) they played in those days were far less than acceptable.

    When I first started to play I used the same ankle high leather boots as they did, the studs were nailed in leaving points that cut into the bottom of your feet – they were also used as weapons by the less scrupulous players. A favourite tactic was to run your boot down the back of the oppositions leg – that left some nasty injuries – hence before players can enter play the soles of players boots are still checked to this day..

  • I did hear a tale about Alex James (one for you 17tino) that after every game he had a small crate of beers in the dressing room, brown ale I think, to help dull the pain from the kicking he routinely got…

    Another was when he was getting changed before a game and a new team mate commented on Alex James’ ankles and that they were the colour/color of teak. That was a result of all the bruising James constantly suffered from, making his ankle a lighter shade of brown.

    Some posts from the really early days would be superb GunnerN5.

  • I think it’s a lot more as you say now Total, I’m not sure if there’s any limit, 1 appearance and I think you get a medal and to my mind that’s how it should be.
    Same with the FACup I suspect…

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