Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No1 – A Club Record Setting Monster and True Legend

Number 1 in Arsenal’s Century Club – Ted Drake

ted drake 2 (1) 

Edward (Ted) Joseph Drake was born On August 16th 1912 in Southampton.

Ted started playing football at Winchester City, whilst continuing to work as a gas-meter reader. In June 1931, he was persuaded by George Kay to join Southampton, who was in Division Two. He made his Saints debut on 14 November 1931 at Swansea Town, and signed as a professional in November, becoming first-choice centre-forward by the end of the 1931–32 season. In the following season he made 33 league appearances, scoring 20 goals.

After only one full season, his bravery and skill attracted the attention of Arsenal’s Herbert Chapman, who tried to persuade him to move to North London. Ted rejected the chance of a move to Highbury and decided to remain at The Dell. He started the 1933–34 season by scoring a hat trick in the opening game against Bradford City, following this with at least one goal in the next four games, thereby amassing eight goals in the opening five games. By early March he had blasted his way to the top of the Football League Division Two goal-scoring table with 22 goals.

Arsenal, with George Allison now in charge, renewed their interest and Ted eventually decided to join the Gunners in March 1934 for a fee of £6,500. Saints had declined several previous offers, but eventually were forced to sell in order to balance their books. Ted made a total of 74 appearances for Southampton, scoring 48 goals.

He scored on his league debut for Arsenal against Wolves on 24 March 1934, in a 3–2 win. Although he joined too late to qualify for a League Championship medal in 1933–34, he would win one in 1934–35, scoring 42 goals in 41 league games in the process, this included three hat-tricks and four four-goal hauls. With two more goals in the FA Cup and Charity Shield, Ted scored 44 in all that season, breaking Jack Lambert’s club record, one that still holds to this day.

Ted made his England debut in the infamous ‘Battle of Highbury’ against Italy in 1934, the match was important enough to the Italians that Benito Mussolini had reportedly offered each player an Alfa Romeo car and the equivalent of £150 (about £15,000 in modern terms) if they beat the English team. Drake scored the third goal in an extremely violent, hate filled game which England won 3-2. Drake became a national figure his unwavering bravery being a trademark.

Stan Mortensen said “Drake made hard men flinch and he is absolutely fearless’’.

The following season, 1935–36 he scored SEVEN in a single match against Aston Villa at Villa Park on 14 December 1935, a club record and top flight record that also still stands. Ted claimed an eighth goal hit the crossbar and went over the line, but the referee waved away his appeal. Drake would go on to win the FA Cup in 1935–36, scoring the only goal in the final.

Despite being injured regularly (he was a doubt up until the last minute for the 1936 Cup Final), his speed, fierce shooting and brave playing style meant he was Arsenal’s first -choice centre forward for the rest of the decade and he was the club’s top scorer for five consecutive seasons.

With four games to go in the 1937-38 season, Arsenal and Wolves were level on points at the top. The introduction of substitutes was almost 30 years away. Drake was badly injured in a game against Brentford and was carried off the field over Tom Whittaker’s shoulder, Drake regained consciousness, had a deep cut stitched up and was sent back out for the second half. He had a fresh bandage around his head to go with the dirty one on his left wrist. Arsenal lost 3-0, while Wolves won 3-0 at Middlesbrough. It looked a major moment, and it was for Drake he was taken to the Royal Northern Hospital for an X-ray and was kept in. Opponents may not have relished his physicality, but Drake was popular. Newspapers recorded his recovery progress with something approaching awe.

Not all football fans, though, were so enamoured. As a columnist in the Daily Herald pointed out: “Ted Drake’s robust style might not be everybody’s meat, but when a fellow, after taking a five-stitch wallop, and with his hand already in plaster, has the pluck to come out and continue to play, surely it’s bad taste, to say the least, to hoot every time he touches the ball?” “There was even a certain amount of cheering as Drake was carried off, unconscious and bleeding. I didn’t like it.” The injury was bad enough for Drake to miss the next match, but he was back for the one after that, a victory over Liverpool.

ted drake 1 (1)

On the last day of the 1937-38 season Arsenal were I point behind Wolves – Arsenal beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 at Highbury while Wolves lost 1-0 away to Sunderland and Arsenal were champions once more.

The Second World War curtailed Drake’s career, he served in the Royal Air Force as well as turning out for Arsenal in wartime games; he also appeared as a guest player for West Ham United later in World War II. However, his career would not last long into peacetime; a spinal injury incurred in a game against Reading in 1945 forced him to retire from playing. With 139 goals in 184 games, he is the joint-fifth (along with Jimmy Brain) all-time scorer for Arsenal.

After retiring as a player, Ted managed Hendon in 1946, and then Reading from 1947. He led the club to the runners-up spot in Division Three South in 1948-49 and again in 1951–52, though at the time only the champions were promoted.

He was appointed manager of First Division Chelsea in 1952. Upon his arrival at Chelsea, he made a series of sweeping changes, doing much to rid the club of its previous amateurish, music hall image. He discarded the club’s Chelsea pensioner crest and with it the Pensioners nickname, and insisted a new one be adopted. From these changes came the “Lion Rampant Regardant” crest and the Blues nickname. He introduced scouting reports and a new, tougher, training regime based on ball work, a rare practice in English football at the time.

Within three years, in the 1954–55 season, Ted had led Chelsea to their first-ever league championship triumph. In doing so, he became the first person to win the league title both as player and manager. However, he never came close to repeating that success and left Chelsea to become reserve team manager at Fulham, later becoming a director and then life president.

He was a gifted all-round sportsman and played county cricket for his native Hampshire in the 1930s he still retained a lively interest in football into his eighties, though excursions from his Wimbledon home to watch matches became increasingly rare as his health deteriorated. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Drake betrayed no trace of bitterness that he had played in an era when material rewards were meagre, a telling measure of a fine footballer and a delightful man.

Ted Drake owns the following records for Arsenal – 

  • Most goals in a game 7 against Aston Villa in a 7-1 victory on December 14th 1935
  • Most League goals in a season 42 in 1934-35
  • Most goals in a season 44 in 1934-35 – League 42, FA Cup 1, Charity Shield 1
  • An amazing most goals per game .76
  • An incredible least amount of games – he scored 100 goals in 108 games (.93 GPG)
  • (He also has the second highest amount of hat tricks at 11)
Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
1 Ted Drake 1934-45 184 108 139 0.76
2 Ian Wright 1991-98 288 143 185 0.64
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.

Drake passed away at the age of 82 on 30 May 1995.









40 thoughts on “Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: No1 – A Club Record Setting Monster and True Legend

  • Thanks GN5. Superb series with a great final post. What a monster Ted Drake was in every sense of the word. I bet he put fear in every defender he played against. I don’t know him and feel there is little to add to your superbly informative post.

  • TA, I believe you fast tracked this series in the past few days so that we will be covering the preview on time for tomorrow evening?

    Anyway, I do not think that we can find another monster like Mr Ted Drake. He played in an era that money is not the catalyst for a career in professional football. The eagerness to play well is evident in this era. And to become better and better as a person.

    And TA, kudos to find a picture of the first and second in the fastest to 100 goals table. This will be one for the history books.

  • Thanks for all your work on a great series GunnerN5, what an amazing sight it must have been for Arsenal fans to have had Ted Drake leading the attack, his physicality maybe influenced fans’ perceptions of him but he must also have been an excellent technician in his chosen profession and quite ruthless in his trade, something I love to see from Arsenal goal-scorers, you don’t end up scoring a 100 goals in approx 100 games if you’re simply a battering ram…

    And now GunnerN5 I look forward to your next project, writing some informative pieces on the Arsenal pre- Chapman, maybe back to the Plumstead days?

  • 84, all the credits go to the master himself, including the pictures. They were all chosen by GN5.

    With the season recommencing tomorrow, I thought it would be good to finish this series so we can give the appropriate attention. From tomorrow it is a game every 3 to 5 days and that will get all our attention till the end I reckon.

  • Morning all,

    I missed seeing Drake in action by a couple of years but he was all the talk in family gatherings and my Dad said he was not only a rough and tough footballer but he was also a complete gentleman.

    He played straight out of his hospital bed – can you imagine any of today’s softies doing that?

    Scoring approximately eight goals every ten games is simply stunning and unheard of in “modern” football.

    It’s a shame that this post will only get one day in the sun but lets hope that Arsenal give us something worthy of writing about.

  • The first game will be like a community shield. If we manage to beat Citeh we will be handing Liv the title I think. But it will be good for our climb up the table.

  • GN5, we don’t need a preview as I have no clue who will start after so many months without a game. Maybe 17HT can do a live blog just before the game kicks off tomorrow evening, meaning that your blog will have had another 12 hours of being ‘live’. 🙂

  • That sounds good TA I think the best striker in our history deserves a bit of respect for his incredible achievements. – Thank you.

  • allezkev I will certainly dig into my archives to see what I can dig up (and refresh) about Arsenal’s early days.

  • Great conclusion to a brilliant series, GN5.
    Yes, we are going to have a new post latest tomorrow, but let’s hope for a lively discussion as long as it is still on top.
    (And let’s also hope that tomorrow’s post will be a cheerful one.)

  • Here is a link of a nice summary of all Arsenal hat tricks.

    My self-made statistic:
    Since Premiere League was introduced in 1992 Arsenal players scored 39 hat tricks in league games and conceded 9 (4 of them against Liverpool).
    What do you think will come first: the 40th hat trick scored or the 10th hat trick conceded?

  • Hey PB, that is a tricky question given the game tonight. You would not put your house on a no-hattrick-for-Aguero… would you?

  • Edu Gaspar: “Mikel has to be involved in recruitment, he must. We talk about what we need, the characteristics of the players, the system we’re going to play and then I start the process internally. That’s my role.”

    Edu Gaspar: “I remember a match we lost or drew at home and didn’t have the best performance. But the way he talked to the players I really liked. It’s easy to connect to people when you win – But when you don’t win it shows a lot more about you as a coach.”

  • Josh Kroenke: “We spoke about club culture and setting a new tone. He [Arteta] told me some of the thoughts that he had and ideas they had done at City. It’s going to take some time – we’ve got a long road ahead of us. But the culture is changing.”

    Josh Kroenke: “Culture becomes cliche at times but it’s a very real thing. Mikel is making an imprint on the club that should hopefully play out over the next several years with improved results on the pitch, but it starts with a foundation.” [athletic] #afc

  • Thanks for the quotes, Kevski. All good stuff and hopefully indications that we are back on track in terms of vision and values for our beloved Arsenal. COYGs!

  • That’s a great hat trick summary PB – it’s right up my alley. I’ll copy it and add it to my personal data base.

  • Well here we are 100+ day’s and we restart the 2019/20 season and what a place to start – Arteta’s most recent football home – it will be a bitter sweet moment for him.

    “Silent Soccer” is new to all of us and may take some getting used to but it could be with us throughout the entire 2021/22 season. No longer will there be crowd influence on either the officials or players, so all decisions will be down to the referee or the VAR (if its going to be in effect).

    I hope that we can attract some new or get some old bloggers back as this site is far too good to not have a wider audience.

  • Hi guys… Busy, busy this last little bit…but partly because I wanted to block out the middle of the day today to watch the behind-closed-doors match. I can put up a live-blog post (and do my usual running commentary thing) BUT I feel like I will need some help (in the comment section) as I’ve really put football on the (or my own personal) back-burner…

    I agree that we don’t really need (or can’t really write) much of a preview for tonight’s match…but, I’ll read and maybe copy and paste anything that seem relevant when the new post goes up… Andale pues–as they say down in Mexico…which means, “Go on then…”

    I also agree with GN5 (directly above) that we should have a wider audience here at the blog. If you’ll recall, several weeks back, I was up for writing a post on this very topic as I thought that the countdown of Arsenal’s fasted to 100 should be read by a wider audience. I never got a thumbs up from TA, so I let it drift away…

    That said, I want to again thank the guy from London (England, originally, now Ontario, Canada) for the series. I felt like I learned a lot and that it was just about the perfect thing for this period without football. Now we move into a new era but it (the series…) suggests that we have a history we will try to carry forward. The words from Arteta (whenever he’s spoken during the break–and from Edu and Kroenke, see Kev’s comments above…) about building a better “culture” at the club seem good. If they (and the players…not to mention every supporter…) could’ve read the series, I don’t see how it couldn’t help. Who wants to be Arsenal’s next to 100?…

    They might not choose to be the new Ted Drake, however…Nobody needs that much Shawcrossing…though it’s all bit different now with subs…possibly 5 of them going forward…

    What other changes will we see? Like I say, I really believe this is a new era…although a big part of the glory of football is that it holds tightly to its past. Without the fans, however, this is definitely gonna be dif’rent…

    I’m hopeful that the behind closed doors games will be watched carefully (or maybe I should say, “safely,” on big screens in people’s homes) and that maybe (just maybe…) the actual football will be (just a hair…) more significant. I fear that “fans” aren’t (truly) interested in these sorts of things (athleticism, teamwork and the like) and that people will go the more traditional route and gather (and drink) and watch in more blurred fashion (mostly for the emotion of the result…) at pubs where the virus can spread. It’s not as bad as a(n indoor) rally called by the Commander-in-Bleach, but there are some parallels…

    But maybe they’ll make the games (ALL the games) available on the telly (in England) so that people won’t need to go out to watch them. I’m VERY uninformed about the plans and details like this have slipped through the (or my) cracks…

    Maybe folks can chime in and inform me–now or when I get the live-blog up…which will be when we have line-ups announced, which used to be about an hour before kick-off (which appears to be at 12:15 pm my time, 8:15 BST, maybe?)…Like I say, I read the comments and I can carry them over…

    In the meantime, there’s still stuff to do around here, but I’ll try and get back in front of the screen(s) at some point. The early match (Aston Villa-Sheffield United) might help me get in the swing of things…

    L8RZ, as (maybe) the kids say…

  • Hey guys apologies for my radio silence and many thanks for the great series which i very much enjoyed, great work Gunner N5. I Spent the past 4 months doing jigsaws!.

    Anyway great to be back. I have no idea who Arteta will Play tonight and if we dare score or even win it will be celebrating at arms length. What happens if someone spits? Filthy habit anyway.

    Can’t help thinking it will look like a training match.


  • Hey busteR! Good to hear from you. Yes it will look like a training session and the players will be quite unfit and at risk to get injured. But it gets better after a few games. COYGs!

  • My predicted line-up:

    Bells – Must – Luiz – Saka
    ——– AMN —- Xhaka——–
    Nelson – – – Ozil – – Auba

  • My Preferred Line-up:
    Bells – Mari – Luiz – Tierney
    ——— Tor/AMN* — Xhaka———
    ————– WIllock——————

  • I’ll be watching the game on my tablet, thanks to my son, so that’ll make a change from listening to and using my imagination, I will try to join in with the ‘not to be missed’ online commentary from the West Coast as best as I can.

    Yes GunnerN5, it seems that the golden age of blogging is a thing of the past, I can recall going on Highbury House and 300/400/500 comments daily was customary only 8 or 9 years ago, but now everyone has migrated to Facebook and Twitter it seems, there are probably other platforms but frankly I don’t care as I won’t be going on any of them any time soon.

    Your post GN5 deserved more comment but maybe people are less confident about posting than we all were 12/15 years ago? It could also be an observation on the younger generations composition skills or lack of, 17tino stands alone when it comes to a post, but I suspect that he wouldn’t enjoy Twitter and it’s limitations?

    Retsub, how many jigsaws can any one man do?

  • OK, TA… I’ll do my best…

    …But, as I’m watching a little AV vs ShU (while grabbing a bit of late breakfast)…

    I have to say that this decision to add the fake crowd noise, IMO, is a disaster. I would REALLY like to hear the instructions being shouted by the coaches and the actual talk between players too… In my view, it’s a way for the locked-down among us (some of whom might be players themselves…) to ACTUALLY understand the game.

    (But, actually understanding–or even appreciating all the hard work of the players and coaches–clearly is NOT what the gate-keepers want us to see…)

    Instead we get a packaged (attempt at) “spectacle,” so that, I guess, we can live and die on each kick–as it pertains to the only thing that matters: the result, then find our “talking points” (with the help of the commentators…) and then get back into arguments about whose fault it all really might be. With the helpful slogan on the backs of the kits (Black Lives Matter) maybe we should ONLY be heaping praise upon (or its opposite?…) on those players… (Whom to lynch, I fear, might be the only question people ask themselves these days…)


    And, maybe a powerful example of “fake news.” (Personally, as they take their first “cooling break” I think Aston Villa’s crowd should be a bit louder. lol…. The players are giving a good showing, though Sheffield United look reasonably comfortable in their defending thus far…)

    It actually makes me wonder if we were getting “real” crowd noise in the past. Certainly things like Xhaka being booed off (and then telling off his, er, supporters) seemed genuine at the time…

    I think the league is making a big mistake here…and it makes me think that maybe I should’ve used this coronavirus thing (is it real or fake? Depends on whom you ask, probably…) to make a clean break from (trying to watch/follow) the game…

    Anyhow, it seemed better to get this out of my system here…

    Back when the line-ups come out…

  • I don’t know about that, TA…

    In fact, they *could* get microphones into all kinds of spots (in the empty and/or full stadia) IF they wanted to show a more complete experience. That doesn’t sell as well as A vs B (black vs white?…) talking points, it seems. Divide…and conquer, I believe, is what it’s called…

    But yes, I can mute and ramble on…and on and on…but I wonder if I should….

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