By Tony Attwood
After Terry Neill became Arsenal manager in the summer of 1976 he is said to have presented the board with a list of players he wanted to sign. Top of the list was Malcolm Macdonald. I am not sure the list itself has ever been made public beyond that revelation so I don’t know who else was actually on it, but the second signing of Terry Neill came soon after, came from the same club but caused nowhere near such a level of excitement.
He was Pat Howard, and curiously he also came from Newcastle, signing on 9 September, and making his full debut on 11 September away to West Ham.
Arsenal started the season with O’Leary and Simpson in the centre of defence, but after four games Simpson dropped out with an injury and Howard replaced him for the next match.
Then matters got worse as Ritchie Powling was forced to replace O’Leary who was went off injured in the game against West Ham.
O’Leary and Simpson remained the first choice central defenders through the season with Howard and Powling as backup, and were called upon once again when, at the end of February, once again both Simpson and O’Leary were injured.
Eventually later in the season Willie Young arrived and 1976/7 ended with the pairing of O’Leary and Young.
Pat Howard was born in Dodworth, Barnsley and made over 500 appearances in the League in total in a career which ran from 1985 to 1962.
Pat signed as a professional for Barnsley in October 1965, with whom he won promotion in 1967/8 from the fourth division, playing in every league game.
This brought him to the attention of Newcastle United and he moved there for £23,000 in September 1971.
Pat played for Newcastle in the 1974 cup final (losing to Liverpool) and the 1976 league cup final (a defeat to Man City) before moving to Arsenal for either £40,000 or £50,000 in September 1976 (depending on which source you read).
His final appearance for Arsenal was on 30 April 1977 against… Newcastle – a game which Arsenal won 2-0. He had made 15 league starts (and that one as a sub) as well playing in four of our league cup games that season.
With Willie Young now in the squad Pat was deemed surplus to requirements and was sold to Birmingham City for £40,000 on 17 August 1977. In 1978 he was loaned to the North American Soccer League playing for Portland Timbers. His final club was Bury.
After retiring from playing he was Football Development Officer for Salford City Council. He is now retired and obviously our best wishes to him in his retirement.
Here’s his complete league record
|1978||Portland Timbers (loan)||24||1|