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Archie Cross and Bill Gooing; played over 100 games for WAFC

Archie George Cross was born in Dartford, in 1880, and played 149 times for the club (132 in the league).   He joined Dartford, before transferring to New Brompton and then Woolwich Arsenal in April 1900, playing throughout as a right back.

The chances are that once again we have here a case of a footballer being spotted in a reserve or cup game, as Dartford were near neighbours of Woolwich Arsenal in Kent.    The club had been formed in 1888 by members of the Dartford Working Men’s Club, and are recorded as being in the final of the Kent Senior Cup (a competition Arsenal entered) as early as 1894.  Dartford were founder members of the Kent League in  1894-95 and the Southern League second division in 1896, which shows at the time that in terms of regional football they were on the up.

If this surmise is not true, an alternative scenario could have Archie being seen when he was at New Brompton (although there’s a hint that he was not there long).  They played their first match on 2 September 1893, losing 1–5 to the Woolwich Arsenal reserves.  I don’t suggest Archie Cross was involved but it shows a link between the two clubs.   New Brompton were founder members of the Southern League in 1894, and were division two champions that season – so as with Dartford, they were a force in the region in terms of non-league football.

However the transfer occurred Archie Cross played for the first time for Woolwich Arsenal in the 1-1 draw with Blackpool on October 6, 1900 – one of three games that season   The next season he played in 15 of the first 19 games, but finally won a regular place in the promotion season of 1903/4 – although from this point on he was often a backup player.  However despite this he was given an England trial in 1906.

In 1907 he started playing as left back but still played as a backup to the regular defence.  Yet despite this he easily qualifies as being in our list of players who notched up over 100 games for Woolwich Arsenal.   In 1909 he transferred back to Dartford – but unfortunately I have not been able to find lists of players and numbers of games at the club – although it is still flourishing as a non-league side today.

William Henry (“Bill”) Gooing was born in 1874 and played for Arsenal between 1901 and 1905, making 106 appearances in league and cup scoring an amazing 48 goals (45 goals in 94 league games).

He first played for Penistone Wath (of whom I know nothing save that it was his local team) and moved on to The Wednesday in 1895.  He only got three games in two years there before moving out of the league to join Chesterfield in 1897.

Chesterfield had turned pro in 1891 and were playing in the Midland League, but joined the second division of the football league in 1899, while Bill Gooing was there.  In total he got 25 goals in 63 league appearances.

In November 1901 he moved to Woolwich Arsenal making his first appearance on the 16th against Newton Heath (we won 2-0).

The Arsenal forward line that was put together at this time was a major part in the drive for promotion (Coleman, Gooing, Shanks), getting 66 goals between them in the season.

Gooing went on to play in the first game in the first division on 3 September 1904, but he faded out of contention and in 1905 left for Northampton Town.  It seems more than likely that injury was a major problem for the player by this time, because he retired from football later that year, aged 31.

One might be permitted at this stage of recording an “almost moment”.  Gooing, as I said, left Northampton in late 1905.  In 1907, Northampton employed their first full-time manager, a certain Herbert Chapman.  Bill Gooing died in 1969.

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