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Arthur Gilbert Biggs: only three games for Arsenal but a varied football career

By Tony Attwood

Arthur Biggs was a player I was hardly aware of until I wrote up the end of the season story for 1936/37.  Since then I’ve been a digging and managed to come up with his footballing career, but sadly nothing further about his life beyond football.  If you know anything more please do write in.

Arthur was born on 26 May 1915 in Wootton in Bedfordshire.  He signed for Arsenal on 27 October 1933 as an amateur player aged 18, having not been registered with any club before that point and became a professional on 14 December 1933.

He then went straight into the Arsenal reserve side and became a regular in the side that constantly won the Combination.  He made his first team debut on 29 March 1937 in an away match at Stoke City.  Ted Drake was injured at the time and Bowden (the normal replacement) dropped out of the team for this match – I suspect he had a knock in the previous game.

The game was a 0-0 draw and Arthur Biggs returned to the reserves as the league title drifted away from Arsenal, and the club finished third in the league, having been top for much of the year.

He played just twice more for the first team in the following championship winning season.  The first time was away to Bolton on 15 September at outside left seemingly with both Milne and Dennis Compton unavailable, and Bastin playing at inside left.

His final game was a 1-1 home draw with West Brom on November 13 1937.  This time he was inside left, replacing Bastin who moved back to his original position on the wing.

Male, Roberts, Kirchen, Bowden, Drake, Davidson and Hunt were all missing from the squad that day, making it look as if Biggs was one of the players called up in a desperate situation.

However it seems he did not make enough of the opportunity for he was transferred less than a month later to Heart of Midlothian on 9 December 1937.   Frank Moss, the Arsenal keeper who had been forced to retire while still in his 20s following a shoulder injury, and who would have known Biggs in London, was now the manager of Hearts.  The club was certainly having a good season under Moss in the first division, and eventually came second in the league, and Biggs scored 12 goals in 19 games, before moving on to Aberdeen in 1938.

In the 1938/9 Aberdeen overtook Hearts and claimed third place, and played Biggs 24 times scoring nine goals of the club.  He remained registered with Aberdeen through the second world war and made guest appearances for Luton, Watford, Crystal Palace and Ipswich.

In 1946 aged 31 he played for Bedford Town before moving on to Colchester United in the summer of 1947, Luton once more and finally Vauxhall Motors of the Spartan League – the league that also was home to Wood Green Town who played in White Hart Lane, and who have been the subject of much discussion on this site (because of where Yours Truly was brought up.

The programme below shows Biggs as captain playing at inside right for Bedford against Millwall Reserves.

The Bedford Old Eagles site (a Bedford Town history site) describes Arthur Biggs as “a tall, blond inside forward from Wootton who had returned home after a long career with Arsenal and several Scottish clubs”.  As we have seen that is not quite a complete description of his career but it is good to know what he looked like.
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The same site also provided this photo of the Bedford team with Biggs one in from the left on the front row.
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The suggestion on the site is that this team played in a pre-season friendly against Tottenham Reserves on 31 August 1946, winning 3-1.

Sadly I have no information of Arthur Biggs’ life from this point onwards save that he died in Luton on 15 January 1966 aged 80.  As I mentioned above, if you know more, please do write in.

The Wiki analysis of his playing career is…

Years Team Games Goals
1933–1937 Arsenal 3 0
1937–1938 Heart of Midlothian 19 12
1938–1946 Aberdeen 23 8
1939–1940 → Luton Town (Wartime guest player) 19 5
→ Watford (Wartime guest player)
→ Crystal Palace (Wartime guest player)
1945 → Ipswich Town (Wartime guest player) 5 1
1946–1947 Bedford Town
1947 Colchester United 12 4
Vauxhall Motors
Total 81 30

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