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Arsenal’s lost players: Alex (“Sandy”) Main

Alexander Main (known as “Sandy”) was born in West Calder in Scotland in 1873 although I can find no record of the actual date.

His playing career at the first took him across four clubs in one season, but at some stage in his second season he moved south and joined Woolwich Arsenal.   Here’s the record of his travels.

Season Club Games Goals
1898–1899 West Calder
1899 Rangers
1899 West Calder
1899 Hibernian 1 0
1899–1903 Woolwich Arsenal 69 14
1903–04 Motherwell
1904–07 Watford 67 1

At Woolwich Arsenal he finally settled…

  League Games Goals
1899–1900 8 3
1900-01 20 6
1901-02 28 5
1902-03 7 0
Total 63 14

Alex’ first game for Arsenal was on 25 December 1899 away to Lincoln.  It was a 0-5 defeat.  He came in at inside left, replacing McCowie who moved to inside right.  This Xmas Day game was league match 14 and Alex was the 21st player to start in the season.  But it was the first season for Arsenal’s first truly successful manager, Harry Bradshaw, and he was clearly having quite a time trying to find his best team.

Surprisingly (given the result of that first game and the willingness of Bradshaw to change the team around) the defence had remained fairly stable – it was the forward line that was chopped and changed.

This was the season when Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third qualifying round after five matches against New Brompton, and so there were no Cup games for Alex to play in, but he did play eight league games and scored three goals.  His opened the account with two on 12 March 1900 in the record breaking 12-0 defeat of Loughborough Town, and he opened the scoring in the 5-0 victory over New Brighton on 7 April.

In 1900/1 he did not play in the opening matches (indeed he never did for Arsenal) but did get games on 22 September and 29 September 1900 against Barnsley and Chesterfield respectively, scoring Arsenal’s only goal on each occasion playing at number 9.

He then dropped out of the team apart from a solitary appearance (which suggests injury problems) before coming back and scoring against New Brighton on 22 December.   From this point on he kept his league place for the rest of the season, missing only the penultimate match.  Most of these games were played at inside right, but he did get in a few more appearances at centre forward.

He also played in all three FA Cup games this season, making his cup debut for Arsenal on 5 January 1900 away to Darwen.

The 1901/2 season was spent playing almost totally at inside right, with a few outings at centre forward, but then something changed.

In his final season, after just one appearance as centre forward on October 14 1903 against Glossop NE, he moved, and on 1 November suddenly appeared as centre half (number 5) where he got a run of six games.  Arsenal won the first five of these games but on 6 December 1902 the run came to an end in a 0-2 away defeat to Small Heath.

It was Alex Main’s last game for Arsenal in the league, although he did stay on with the club and played his final game on 23 March 1903 away to Brentford in a 1-0 victory in the London League Premier Division.

That season the team went on to their highest ever position thus far – third in the second division.  The following season Arsenal were runners up and gained promotion.

And that, sad to say, is that.   We don’t know when he was born nor when or where he died.  We have no picture – nothing.

If you do know anything about Alex Main please do write in either to the site or to me directly: Tony.Atttwood@aisa.org

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