Only 19 Gunners Ever Achieved This

Dear BKers

I was recently approached by Nick Brown to help him promote his new book ‘The One Hundred Club’. You may recall that the esteemed GN5 did a series on the 19 Arsenal players who reached the 100-goal mark and more wearing the mighty red and white colours of our beloved club, a few years ago. This was a tremendous success. Nick Brown has now written a very fine book on these 19 heroes, providing us with numerous new insights and below you can read more about it.

TotalArsenal.

Those of us who have played football – it doesn’t matter to what level – knows that there is no better feeling than sticking one in the old onion bag, especially if it is a real cracker of a goal. Can you imagine, then, what it must be like to glide across that pristine Emirates Stadium carpet of a pitch, drop a shoulder to send a defender the wrong way and hit the ball so sweetly that the moment it leaves your foot you know it’s in? And then to see the goalkeeper fly through the air fruitlessly and watch the net bulge as the ball nestles into the top corner before dropping to the ground, bouncing triumphantly behind the hapless prostrate custodian? And hearing 60,000 people anticipating what is about to happen as soon as you let fly, the murmur building into a joyous crescendo, the noise erupting like the sound of a tube train thundering into the station at Finsbury Park?

Just once! Just once would be enough, wouldn’t it…?

Now imagine what it must be like to have scored over 100 goals in the famous red and white. Only 19 people in history have achieved that, from Jimmy Brain, founder member of the 100 Club in 1928, down to Olivier Giroud, the most recent inductee in 2017. Some of the names of that elite crew are amongst the most famous in the annals of not only Arsenal history, but the history of English football – people like Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Cliff Bastin and Dennis Bergkamp.

There is a reason that it is the goal scorers who command the biggest transfer fees. Willie Groves, the first player to move clubs for £100 when he switched from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa, was a forward; the first £500 player, the first £1,000 player, the first £1,000,000 player, the first £10,000,000 player (I don’t need to go on, do I…?) were all forwards. Goals win games.

As a youngster, my favourite player was Alan Smith. One of George Graham’s early signings during his reign, Smith was a centre-forward in the traditional sense, a typical number nine. Tall and difficult to knock off the ball, he was a master of shielding it from his marker, holding it up and bringing others in to play. Good in the air, he was also more than capable of slamming one home from long range, the most obvious example being the winning goal in the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup against Italian team Parma. He lost his marker and found some space from a Lee Dixon throw-in, knocked it back to Dixon and seized upon the loose ball after a defender had only half-cleared Dixon’s attempted through ball to Paul Merson. Smith took it down on his chest and struck home the only goal of the game from the edge of the penalty box. Unerringly accurate, the ball flew past Parma keeper Luca Bucci to bring the cup to Highbury.

Another such strike came against Norwich in the title winning season of 1988-89. A long goal kick from John Lukic bounced towards Smith. He held off the attentions of his marker, kept his eye on the ball as it came down once more and in one movement turned and slammed it home from 20 yards.

No doubt, every Arsenal fan – every football fan – will have memories of special moments from their own special players. The thing is, most of these moments won’t even be remembered by anyone else. Hands up who can recall Thierry Henry’s stunning effort against Watford where he collected it almost on the half-way line and jinked through the opposing defence before steering it home? Or Ian Wright making the Aston Villa defence look silly before sliding the ball into the far corner? Or Frank Stapleton leaping like a salmon before bulleting a header into the Leicester City net? But that’s just the point, isn’t it? Memories fade, even the best ones.  

‘The 100 Club’ is a chronicle of every goal scored by those illustrious few Arsenal centurions. Currently available direct from the publishers Morgan Lawrence, Waterstones bookshop (online if not actually in store) and on E-Bay, it is a must for every Arsenal fan, historian and statistician. My eternal thanks also go to the aforementioned Mr Smith for writing the foreword.

By Nick Brown

Website : https://booksnickbrown.wixsite.com/nick-brown

Instagram : @nick.brown.books

21 thoughts on “Only 19 Gunners Ever Achieved This

  • Thank you, Nick.

    It is hard to imagine that only 19 Gunners achieved this historically, and I wonder who will be next for us. Players seem to move on so quickly now and it seems like the goals are being spread among more players these days, so perhaps making it harder for one individual to reach the three digits.

    I look forward to reading your book and I am sure that quite a few here will want to do so too.

  • I’ve been quite lucky to have seen 9 Arsenal players hit 100 plus goals for the club since John Radford first did it for me and to see 2 players beat the club goalscoring record. Big Johnny Radford will always have a special place in my heart not least for his goal at Anfield in 1973 on my first visit there, it remains my all time favourite Arsenal goal.

  • Yes Kev. What a memory for you. A muddy pitch, a surging crowd, end to end football, Bob Paisley in the dug out, Tommy Smith arguing with the ref over the cast iron penalty, Bally slotting it home, and Raddy’s sheer strength, skill and determination. Ray Clemence was inspired that day (as was Bob Wilson). A great 2-0 at Anfield. The ’89 lads drew encouragement from it for their miracle of a performance.

  • I wonder who has scored the most beautiful 100 Arsenal goals or more. I am period biased but can we look past DB and TH at all?! They just scored beautiful goals for fun. Such a shame Dennis is not working with our attacking players.

  • Thanks for the comment Stuart and especially the video, I’ve seen the goals numerous times but not the highlights so I really enjoyed those.

    What a pitch, to score 149 goals for Arsenal as John Radford did in those conditions along with the industrial tackling commonplace at the time is a testament to his quality. He still holds the record as the youngest Arsenal player to score a hat trick when he was 17.

  • I think Stuart, as an aside, 1972/73 remains one of my own most disappointing seasons because Arsenal should have won the league that season especially after beating Liverpool at Anfield, it’s not often that you put yourself in that position so to let it slip was awful.

    It would have been a fitting tribute to Bertie Mee and he deserved that after putting Arsenal back on track after years of mediocrity.

  • Hi Total, I had a great deal of enjoyment in both researching and writing the series on our players who reached the 100 goal and higher mark.
    It still leave me in awe that Ted Drake (1934-45) scored his 100 goals in 108 games at a scoring rate of .76 goals per game. When one looks back at the awful pitch conditions and equipment used – ankle high leather boots and a leather football with leather lacing (which was more akin to a weapon than a football) it makes it even more inspiring.

  • Yes, Kev. ’72 to ’74 left my teenage heart in tatters. Losing the ’72 cup final to Leeds, losing the league title, and then losing Charlie to Derby and then Ray to Liverpool. It all seemed a bit too much. But I weathered the drought and never wavered, learning that valuable life lesson that faithfulness brings its rewards.
    Yes, GN5. Ted Drake was robbed of much of his career by the war. But for it, he could well have scored 300 for Arsenal.
    Yes, Total. Vieira looks quite the Edu profile: young, skillful and a Portuguese speaker. It could shape up to be another fabulous transfer window.

  • Yes Stuart, those early 70’s really was a case of the sublime to the ridiculous, the decline of that squad when I look back on it now was really stunning, players like Simpson, McLintock, Storey, McNab just seemed to fade away but the heartbreaker for me was Charlie George leaving, it was a mixed bag indeed.

  • Oops I have to correct myself. Ted Drake scored 100 goals in 108 games (.93 GPG) and a total for Arsenal of 139 in 184 games (.76 GPG)

  • Loving your accounts of those memories, Stuart and Kev. Don’t know where you dug up that video from but I enjoyed the highlights. Radford looked some player too.

    GN5, thanks for the stat on Drake. That’s an amazing rate of scoring, by any standard.

  • That’s right, Stuart. So much is available once the interest is piqued enough. The joys of the Internet.

    Will sure take out time to read that piece, GN5. Cheers.

  • Wow, GN5, that piece on Drake is the real deal! And the other articles are also of high quality.
    Sorry for being surprised, as your style and thoroughness is well known in this community, but it’s been a while since I had the chance to read your historical posts.

  • GN5, that is some fine writing. It is the first time I have enjoyed the privilege of reading your work on ‘Arsenal Arsenal’. Love the story of your maternal grand father and your introduction to Highbury. When I started going, the stewards would open the gates with 20 minutes of the match remaining for those who couldn’t afford a ticket. Was this the case back in the 40’s?

  • GN5. Have you read “The End” by Tom Watt? It records 80 years of life on Arsenal’s North Bank. Best book I have read on our beloved club. You may even find yourself or your Granddad in one of the many photo’s.

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