Goalkeepers – Day 2

Continuing our search for the goalkeeper of our Greatest Ever Arsenal team ……………………

5. Jack Kelsey: 1949 – 1962

Jack played for 13 years appearing in 352 games.

He was born in the Llansamlet area of Swansea. Les Morris, an ex-Arsenal player, spotted Kelsey whilst he was playing for his local side, Winch Wen. Morris recommended Kelsey to Arsenal, who upon watching the goalkeeper for a few games decided to sign him. Arsenal already had an established first-choice goalkeeper at this time, in Geroge Swindin, so Kelsey could do nothing but wait for his chance to play for the first team.

kelsey_greatThe legendary shot-stopper made his Arsenal debut in a 5-2 home defeat to Charlton Athletic in 1951 and was a world-class goalkeeper during the Gunners’ barren spell in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

With a rugged build and consistently solid catching, Kelsey managed to fully oust Swindin from the side (Swindin making only two appearances in 1953-54) and went on to be Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper for the next eight seasons; only a broken arm sustained in an FA Cup tie against Sheffield United in 1959 put him out of the Arsenal side for any considerable amount of time, with Jim Standen taking over in the meantime.

Jack was a true one-club man. He began and finished his career at Highbury after eventually ousting George Swindin as Arsenal’s No 1 in the 1952/53 campaign.

Dubbed “the cat with magnetic paws” by the Brazilian national side, he won 41 caps for Wales – then a British record for a keeper. He was their goalkeeper at the 1958 World Cup, which remains their only appearance at the finals to date.

He also played for Great Britain v Rest of Europe in 1955.

Jack displaced two vertebrae at the base of his spine while playing for Wales in 1962 and was forced to retire. He later took up the post of commercial manager at Arsenal, retiring in 1989.

He passed away in London in March 1992.

In September 2010 Jack was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.

6. Jim Furnell: 1963-1968

Jim played for 5 years and made 167 appearances.

Born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, Jim started his career at his local club Burnley, signing at the age of 17. As third-choice keeper he only played twice in eight seasons at Turf Moor, before being signed by Liverpool in 1962 where he immediately took the No. 1 jersey, playing all the club’s remaining matches that season, as they won the Second Division title and promotion to the First Division. Due to an accident early in the 1962-63 season, he lost his place and only played two matches in 1963-64.

titleBilly Wright brought Jim to Arsenal in 1963 paying £15,000. The manager was vindicated as Jim slotted straight in to the Gunners’ first XI, making his debut the day after he signed against Blackpool; the match finished 5-3 to Arsenal. He went on to become the long-term successor to Jack Kelsey playing as Arsenal’s No. 1 for the majority of the next five seasons. He was in goal for the Gunners’ League Cup Final defeat against Leeds United in 1968. But in the very next match, an FA Cup tie against Birmingham City, Jim’s mistake led to an unlikely Blues’ equaliser. He was duly dropped and never played for Arsenal’s first team again with young understudy Bob Wilson taking over the mantle.

He was sold in September 1968 for £8,000 to Rotherham United, after two years with Rotherham he moved to Plymouth Argyle and became a fans’ favourite at the club, playing there for five and a half years before his retirement in the summer of 1976. As part of the club’s centenary in 2003, he was named as goalkeeper in the Pilgrims’ all-time greatest XI by the club’s fans.

After retiring as a player, he was a coach at Plymouth before joining Blackburn Rovers in 1981; he served as a coach there until his retirement in 1998.

In a 2007 web poll, Jim was named Plymouth’s best goalkeeper of all time.

7. Bob Wilson: 1963 – 1974

Bob played for 11 years appearing in 308 games.

Bob was born in Chesterfield, he was the youngest child of six and had much older brothers (and an elder sister); two of his brothers were killed in the Second World War, one as a Spitfire pilot and the other as a rear- gunner in a Lancaster.

bob_wilsonHe was a late starter as a professional player, as his father would not let him sign papers with Manchester United as he thought it wasn’t a reasonable job whilst he was a youth. He played in reserve games for Wolves as an amateur and made his debut for Arsenal as an amateur, and was the first amateur to have a transfer fee paid (around £6,500).

Bob was forced to bide his time as understudy to Jim Furnell, and his early appearances for the Club did little to suggest he would make the grade. But a combination of intelligence and sheer hard graft ensured that he seized his chance when it came in March 1968.

He gained his first honour in 1970, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The following year Bob was an ever-present in Bertie Mee’s Double-winning side, gaining the Player of the Year honour. Two years later injury forced Wilson out of the Arsenal side but he recovered to claim back his No 1 jersey. He held it until his retirement at the age of 32.

Wilson was goalkeeping coach for 28 years, working with Pat Jennings, John Lukic and David Seaman. He also forged a successful broadcasting career with the BBC and later ITV. In 2007 Bob received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as recognition for his work in the Willow Foundation which was set up in memory of his daughter Anna who passed away in 1968.

He made no bones about the deep-seated passion for the Arsenal having the N5 postcode on his car number plate.

8. Jimmy Rimmer: 1974 – 1977

Jimmy played for 3 seasons and appeared in 146 games.

Born in Southport Rimmer joined Manchester United as a schoolboy, turning professional two years later, he played 46 times for United. In October 1973 he was loaned to Swansea City where he impressed as first-team goalkeeper. Arsenal manager Bertie Mee brought him in April 1974 for £40,000 and gave him his first-team debut against Liverpool shortly afterwards.

rimmer2He made only one appearance in 1973-74 (keeping a clean sheet on his debut against Liverpool). After Bob Wilson announced his retirement at the end of that season, Jimmy became Arsenal’s No. 1 for the next three seasons, and was a near ever-present for the Gunners. During his time at Arsenal he also won his one and only England Cap

After Tottenham Hotspur manager Terry Neill took over at Arsenal, he signed Pat Jennings from his old club and he was sold to Aston Villa. At Villa, Jimmy was No. 1 for the next six seasons, winning a First Division winners’ medal in 1981. The following year Villa reached the European Cup Final, but he was injured after only nine minutes, Villa nevertheless beat Bayern Munich 1-0 they then went on to win the European Super Cup.

Jimmy left Villa in 1983 to rejoin old club Swansea City. After retiring from playing, he became Swansea’s goalkeeping coach, having a brief spell as manager. He then spent several years in China working as the goalkeeping coach for the Chinese National team.

Written by Gunner N5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile

85 Responses to Goalkeepers – Day 2

  1. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all.

    Now we have got to my first Arsenal Hero. The great Jack Kelsey. I once had a scrap book that was supposed to contain pctures and newspaper clippings about Arsenal. The only things in it were pictures of Jack and articles about him.

    I wil find it very, very difficult to vote for anyone other than Jack.

  2. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Is there anybody there?

    Knock once for yes, twice for no.

    Knock, Knock.


  3. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi everyone – a great trip down memory lane for today and at last the name of Jimmy Rimmer has popped up -the first Arsenal goalie I remember.

    Sadly that name is now associated with the smeghead from Red Dwarf, but for me he was the first Rimmer.

    Sterling work from our gaurdians of the archives as ever.

  4. MickyDidIt89 says:

    More top work GN5a. Thank you.

    Can’t think why, but I rather expected Jack Kelsey to have better hair.

    Will read properly later.

  5. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just thinking aloud here, but I guess Bob Wilson was our first ever keeper who appeared on telly in colour. Fascinating eh?

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    I’ve arranged to have my car serviced so I won’t be around until around 5:00pm today.

    I met Jack Kelsey outside the ground, a really pleasant individual.

  7. Big Raddy says:

    I cannot remember seeing Kelsey apart from behind the counter at the Clock End Shop. But I know of the esteem in which he was held at AFC.

    I did see Jim Furnell play and recall him as avery quiet man. Big but then everyone was big in those days.

    Rimmer had a tough job taking over from Bob Wilson, who retired much too early at 32. To my generation Wilson is The Man – anyone who saw how brave (insane) he was diving at players feet will know why.

    Wilson – Arsenal’s best? Perhaps, but he played for Scotland despite being born in England ….. not good.

  8. RockyLives says:

    Great stuff Gn5

    I know Kelsey is revered, but I have a real soft spot for Willow fir exactly the reason BR mentions: I have never seen a braver goalie!

    He was a decent shot stopper too and was also the man in the sticks when I first started supporting the Arse.

  9. Ian Ure Face says:

    One of my first memories of going to Arsenal in 1965 was the crowd singing ( to the tune of Mighty Quinn ).

    ” Come all without…come all within…you`ll not see nothing like the Mighty Jim…..FURNELL ” !.

  10. LB says:

    Wow, great read

    I learnt so much, Bob Wilson lost two brothers? That is seriously tragic.

    Jim Furnell was popular somewhere? That is seriously amazing.

  11. RockyLives says:

    One small correction – I believe Wilson’s daughter died in 1998, not 1968.

  12. Jack Kelsey. For me unquestionably the greatest keeper in Arsenal’s history.

  13. RockyLives says:

    Incidentally, Wilson’s autobiography (called, with typical understatement: “Bob Wilson: My Autobiography”) is a really good read, as you would expect from someone who became a very accomplished broadcaster and journalist.

  14. Big Raddy says:

    I am about to venture into Thierry Henry’s biography by Philippe Auclair. They didn’t get on so it should be an interesting read.

    I would like to read an unedited version of Merse’s career.

  15. RockyLives says:

    Unedited version of Merse’s career:

    Sky TV

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ok, just read through another top post.

    Here’s a thought, and a question, how many ex Arsenal players, like Jimmy Rimmer, have European Cup Winners medals?

    Anelka? Henry?

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:


  18. MickyDidIt89 says:


  19. MickyDidIt89 says:


  20. RockyLives says:

    From Arsenal.com:

    Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci will leave the Club when they come to the end of their contracts on June 30, and Arsenal would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution and wish them well for the future.

    Arshavin made 144 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 31 times over the course of five seasons. He netted four times in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in April 2009 during an excellent debut season in England. Despite limited first-team opportunities in recent times, he has continued to contribute, providing five assists and one goal in his 11 appearances during 2012/13. A vastly experienced player, the 32-year-old has 74 caps for Russia, for whom he played a key role at Euro 2008 and 2012. He was named Russian Footballer of the Year in 2006.

    Denilson, who joined from Sao Paulo in 2006, has spent the past two seasons on loan at his boyhood club in the Brasileirao. The 25-year-old represented Arsenal on 153 occasions from 2006 to 2011. He made 51 appearances in a standout 2008/09 campaign, featuring in all but one Premier League game.

    Squillaci leaves Arsenal after three years with the Club, having signed from Sevilla in summer 2010. The Frenchman, who has 21 caps for his country, was a regular in his opening season with the Club, featuring 32 times in 2010/11. His first-team opportunities have been limited in the last two terms.

    Everyone at Arsenal would like to wish Andrey, Denilson and Sebastien all the very best.

  21. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just thought of a genius one. Ok pre-Arsenal, but Viv Anderson. at Forest.
    I’m miles ahead in my own competition 🙂

  22. Red Arse says:

    Well done GN5, a really interesting Post, and perhaps because of the weather and the end of season inertia, it has not got the audience it deserves!

    It’s Seaman for me as the Numero Uno.

  23. MickyDidIt89 says:

    And another…Andy Cole

  24. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You can’t say Seaman when Gn5a hasn’t even submitted his report on the fella. There may be some very unsavoury revelations.

  25. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Davor Suker with Madrid

  26. Big Raddy says:


    Overmars & Kanu (also pre-AFC). Both with Ajax.

  27. Red Arse says:

    Look, here’s a joke for Micky and Rocky, two very dubious characters.

    A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

    ‘Have you ever done anything of particular merit?’ St. Peter asked.

    ‘Well I can think of one thing,’ the cowboy offered.
    ‘On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman.

    I felt it was my duty to help her out, and so I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn’t listen.

    So, I approached the largest and most tattooed biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground.

    I then yelled at them, ‘Now, back the f*ck off or I’ll kick the shit out of all of you!

    St. Peter was really impressed, and asked, ‘When did this happen?’
    ‘A couple of minutes ago.’, said the Cowboy! 😀

  28. Red Arse says:


    If I cannot say Seaman, then I counter with Lukic! 🙂

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ooo, nice work Raddy.

    RA 🙂

  30. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Could be quite a surprising list. Rimmer, Suker, Kanu wouldn’t be top of most people’s guessing lists.

  31. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’m stuck 😦

  32. Red Arse says:

    Here’s one for Randy.

    A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlour and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool.

    After catching his breath, he gaspingly ordered a banana split.

    The waitress asked kindly, ‘Crushed nuts?’

    ‘No,’ he replied, ‘Just arthritis.’

  33. Gooner In Exile says:

    Ok time to nail colours to the mast pre dinner in the West Country.

    Wilson taught me >90% of what I know about goalkeeping, the rest I figured for myself, whether from reading his books, watching his videos or attending his goalkeeping school (during which I made a save thatbearned high praise from the man himself and left this young Gooner chuffed to bits for a good year or two).

    He is a gentleman first and foremost and made the “you’ve got be crazy to be a goalkeeper” phrase popular, mainly by the way he played, as others have said fearless. All of his advice holds true today a few from memory that go beyond normal angles and stuff:

    If the free kick is close split the wall so that you can see the attacker strike the ball, and so that you don’t get stuck to one side of your goal by putting 4/5 men one side of the goal.

    When an attacker is bearing down one on one wait until he has a bad touch before committing yourself at his feet.

    When a high ball is played into the box come fast and come late and meet at its highest point.

    Love your gloves, I never had the luxury, train at least once a week without gloves and you’ll learn how to catch the ball without them.

    Use your feet use your feet use your feet. Only dive when you absolutely have to.

  34. RockyLives says:

    I have this idea that our goalkeeping has looked less secure since Willow retired as GK coach.

    Do you think there’s anything in this?

  35. chas says:

    From Facepalm

    A Haiku called Andre.

    *clears throat*

    You should have been giant.
    You healed like a dog, it’s true
    But you ate like pig.

    Off to read the post.

  36. Big Raddy says:

    ate like pig 😀

    RA. . Love a little old man joke.

  37. chas says:

    Jack Kelsey



  38. chas says:

    Jim Furnell

    Not the best game for us, but a cracking fight.
    I remember Ian Ure fighting at White hart Lane and ending up with a bloody nose. Anyone else remember that?

  39. chas says:

    Bob Wilson.
    Lovely man. Still see him walking down Blackstock or Gillespie Road occasionally. Always has a smile for hecklers. 🙂

  40. chas says:

    Last comment in moderation. Please release it.

  41. chas says:

    Jimmy Rimmer.
    His best days were at Villa.

  42. chas says:

    The Ian Ure fighting at White Hart Lane was me getting my dodgy Scottish centre backs mixed up. 🙂
    It was Willie Young I was thinking of.

  43. GunnerN5 says:


    I was, most likely in the crowd that day.

    Several of the players in that game are being profiled, Lishman, Tapscott, Barnes, and Kelsey.

    I wanted to profile Tommy Lawton but in the end result he did not meet the required profile, which was a real sham, he was just a great player. I remember in one game he picked up the ball in our half just behind the player tunnel, he took a half dozen steps, looked up saw the goalie off of his line and lofted the ball over him into the net.

    Boy oh boy that’s a recollection of a goal from over 50 years back.
    I also witnessed Dog Lishman scoring 3 consecutive hat tricks at Highbury from back in the 50’s.

    Researching these players has tended to hone up many wonderful memories.

  44. chas says:

    Loving the posts, GN5c.

  45. chas says:

    3 consecutive hat tricks.
    Wow, is that a League record for a player on his home turf?

    Tommy Lawton seemed a bit of a nomad.

    Perhaps there’s an idea for next summer?
    An all-time Arsenal cameo appearance eleven. 🙂

  46. GunnerN5 says:

    Rasp/GIE is either of you are around or read this later, I would prefer that folks had the choice of 3 players on voting days as the would give us a greater cross section of folks opinions.

    However if that means that they can vote 3 times for one player then it’s not such a good idea.

    I would like to hear your opinions or the views of others on the subject.

  47. chas says:

    So Tommy Lawton was doing David Beckham stuff donkeys years ago. 🙂

  48. chas says:

    Perhaps you can vote for first, second and third?

  49. GunnerN5 says:

    Thank you Chas, it was really with AA regulars in mind that I decided on this series, if other bloggers tune in then I hope they are also getting a taste of our all time greats from all eras.

    I just wish that there was better information available on some of the earlier players.

  50. GunnerN5 says:

    That’s right Chas, and remember that was with the original all leather ball. They had to have legs like tree trunks to kick that type of football that far.

  51. GunnerN5 says:

    That’s a great alternative Chas.

  52. GunnerN5 says:

    Chas If a template existed that alongside the players name had 1, 2 or 3 columns, for 1st, 2nd or 3rd choices, that would be just perfect.

  53. chas says:


    I don’t know if you know but we still take my Dad’s mate, JC to the Emirates for home games.
    He is coming up to being 88 years old. In 2002 before the Chelsea Cup Final we were having a night before session and got into a ‘favourite Arsenal player’ discussion.
    JC went for Ronnie Rooke. 🙂

    Another JC story is that he has actually scored a goal at Highbury playing for Islington schoolboys. The only problem is, is that it was an headed own goal from a corner and they lost 1-0. (JC says “lost One Oh”) 🙂

  54. chas says:

    Random video time.
    Last 15 seconds seem appropriate.

  55. AKB – had to be you, there are no other muppets here 🙂

  56. Miss Piggy says:

    Did someone call moi ?

  57. Great post GN5, really enjoy reading your analysis. It is extremely difficult for me to truly appreciate the past heroes, but you are doing very well convincing me that our generation didn’t invent the beautiful game, it was there long before we were. Magnificent history, thank you for the insight

  58. chas says:

    If you showed you had a least two brain cells to rub together, it might be a start. Alas.

  59. chas says:

    Did you even read the last two days’ posts?

  60. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Manninger ahead of Seaman, Kelsey etc ROLF ROLF

  61. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just been watching those fantastic old clips. Superb.

  62. chas says:

    Manninger was rejected by Wenger, so automatically gets bonus points. Here are the details of his wonderful career.
    appearances and goals in brackets

    1995–1996 SV Salzburg 1 (0)
    1995 → Vorwärts Steyr (loan) 5 (0)
    1996–1997 Grazer AK 24 (0)
    1997–2002 Arsenal 30 (0)
    2001–2002 → Fiorentina (loan) 24 (0)
    2002 Espanyol 0 (0)
    2003 Torino 3 (0)
    2003–2005 Bologna 0 (0)
    2004–2005 → Siena (loan) 19 (0)
    2005–2006 Red Bull Salzburg 16 (0)
    2006–2008 Siena 64 (0)
    2008 Red Bull Salzburg 0 (0)
    2008 Udinese 0 (0)
    2008–2012 Juventus 27 (0)
    2012– FC Augsburg 12 (0)

  63. chas says:


  64. Big Raddy says:

    This fool is not only haunting us but other sites as well What a sad person

    chas. I am binning his comments as usual

  65. RockyLives says:

    Well played BR

  66. Red Arse says:

    I am glad you explained your binning antics, Big R, I just got back to AA and the comments seemed to inhabit an alternative world of their own! 🙂

  67. Big Raddy says:

    RA 😀

    The troll haunts Goonerholic where he gets similar treatment

  68. Big Raddy says:

    I have to go.

    Please note this idiot is using other’s names – just look at the gravatar & please ignore him/her/it.

  69. chas says:

    Apologies for engaging said troll.
    Ignoring doesn’t seemed to have worked so I thought I’d attempt to get a little more than one-line idiocy from him.

  70. LB says:

    Great story Chas @7.12

  71. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning Chas.

    Off to find the mornings goss for when Raddy rocks up.

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Yikes, struggling this morning, although unearthed one of my favourite angles which concerns a 28 yr old Frenchie called Mathieu Valbuena.

    He falls into my favourite category: “refuses to rule out a move away from Marseilles this summer, with English clubs, including Arsenal and Newcastle, believed to be possible destinations”.

    Sounds to me like a deal is mighty close 🙂

  73. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Have you met JC? Seriously top bloke.

  74. Red Arse says:

    Morning Micky, 🙂

    My biggest regret of this Transfer Window, is not hearing the traditional plea of some guy called Matuidi begging AW to buy him, which he has done for about 5 years.

    He must be OK, I suppose, because I think he has ended up at PSG, but of course they have shovelled up half the available ‘talent’ in the entire western world. 🙂

  75. LB says:


    I haven’t but it sounds like he deserves respect.

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning RA
    City appear to be leading the way. Fernandinho at £34m along with the winger Jesus (0 goals last season ROLF)

  77. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Most news revolves around that loathsome specimen Mourinho.

    I’m actually quite happy he’s returning to Chavs as it will make them even more disliked than they already are.

  78. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. What you got – anything juicy?

    Good to see MC hoovering up the players who will fail in the PL. Does anyone really believe their two signings will bring them the title?

    If Tevez leaves they are doomed to a battle with Spurs for 4th

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning RA

    It’ll be interesting to see how/if FFP has a bearing on Chav spending/wages.

  80. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry, that was a Morning BR.

    Done The American.

  81. Big Raddy says:

    The American? Is this some strange West Country dance?

  82. apparently we have almost signed miralem pjanic because we need another midfielder, right

  83. Rasp says:

    Morning all, part 3 of our appreciation of Arsenal’s great goalkeepers…..

    …. New post …….

  84. William McGoonagal says:

    Didn’t a load of Arsenal get off the London bound train at Rotherham and congregate behind the goal to pay homage to Jim Furnell one time? I think the Arsenal game was a late postponement at some further north outpost .

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