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GCR Books

Archibald Colin Gray: another forgotten Gunners hero

This continues the series on the players who started the season at Woolwich Arsenal exactly 100 years ago.

If you are reading this series as they are published you will be getting used to the phrase: “He was born in Scotland”.   Here we go again

Archibald Colin Gray was known as Archie, and was born in August of either 1883 or 1879 (opinion is divided) in Govan.  He played for junior clubs before working his way through Glasgow Ashfield, and then Hibernian whom he joined in 1889 (which makes the 1883 not impossible, but less likely) scoring twice in what is reported to be only 18 games over a five year period during which he won the Scottish FA Cup in 1902 and the first Division in 1903, plus a cap for Scotland the same year.

He joined Arsenal as a full back for the 1904/5 season and became a regular in the side at right back, missing just a handful of games at the end of the season through injury.  His first game was a 3-0 away defeat against Newcastle on September 3 1904.

Although he was at the club during their runs to the semi-finals of the cup, he missed the first through injury.  He did play in the Sheffield Wednesday semi-final in 1907.

By the 1911-12 season it was clear that his time had gone and although he played four of the first six games at left back that season, he was then left out of the side until his final game (his 184th in the league and his 200th overall), against Notts Countyon 23 December 1911.

By this time of course Arsenal and Fulham were totally linked through the ownership of both by Henry Norris, and it was not surprising when, being surplus to requirements at Arsenal he was transferred for £250 to Fulham who were then in the second division.

He played 25 matches in three seasons, before his retirement at the end of the 1914/1915 season – by which time the first world war had broken out.

He never managed to be an ever present in the side but in 1908/09 he played 33 out of 38 league games and all four league games.

I said near the start, “He joined Arsenal as a full back for the 1904/5 season” – but what we have to realise is that this was not a move as a result of a scouting appointment.  He was not getting many games in Scotland, and more than likely he would have heard the stories about there being a Scottish club playing near London, with some work available and the nearby armaments factory, and so like many before him, he could have made the journey south looking for work and for a club.

Next up: Percy Sands – an Englishman at Arsenal!

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