Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 3

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue to highlight the midfielders.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week

7. George Eastham: 1960-1966

George played in 223 games over a six year period.

1632512_display_imageBorn in Blackpool, Lancashire, he was part of a football family — his father George Eastham, Sr., was an England international who played for Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool, while his uncle Harry Eastham played for Liverpool and Accrington Stanley.

George junior first played for Northern Irish club Ards, where his father was player-manager, and the two played together on the pitch. A skilful midfielder/inside forward, he was signed by Newcastle United in 1956, and made his debut in October 1956. He spent four seasons with the Magpies and during his time there he won caps for the Football League and the England U23 side. He played 125 games for Newcastle, scoring 34 goals.

However, during his time at Newcastle United he fell out with the club over the house they had supplied him to live in and their attempts to stop him playing for the England U23 team.

With his contract due to expire in 1959, he refused to sign a new one and requested a transfer. However, Newcastle refused to let him go. At the time, clubs operated a system known as retain-and-transfer, which meant that teams could keep a player’s registration (thus preventing them from moving) while refusing to pay them if they had requested a transfer. Unable to leave, George went on strike at the end of the 1959–60 season, eventually taking the club to the High Court in 1963. As a result, although he did not gain personally, he succeeded in reforming the British transfer market. The “retain” element of retain-and-transfer was greatly reduced, providing fairer terms for players looking to re-sign for their clubs, and setting up a transfer tribunal for disputes.

After winning his case he signed for Arsenal and made his debut in 10 December 1960, scoring twice. Throughout his six seasons at Arsenal, he was a regular for the side; though not a prolific goal scorer, George was one of the most talented players in an average Arsenal team. Under manager’s George Swindin and Billy Wright, Arsenal never finished higher than 7th during his time there. His  time at Arsenal was often turbulent; as well as the court case against Newcastle United, he fell out with Arsenal after asking for a pay rise following the maximum wage’s abolishment in 1961. In both 1963–64 and 1964–65 he scored ten goals, the most per season during his Arsenal career, which included two in a 4–4 draw in a memorable North London derby match against Tottenham Hotspur at Highbury in 1963.

It was at Arsenal that his international career flourished; he joined the England squad for the 1962 FIFA World Cup as an uncapped player; his England debut finally came in 1963, against Brazil. In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the winners’ squad members, George was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009.

In February 1971, at the age of 34, George took a break from playing in order to develop his coaching ability, with the view of going into management. He embarked on a trip to South Africa, playing on loan with Cape Town City before having a spell as player-manager of Hellenic, who had previously been managed by his father.[ He returned to Stoke in October 1971, to continue his playing career. He made 194 league appearances for Stoke City in total, scoring four goals.

George retired from playing in 1974, having been awarded the OBE for services to football the previous year.

He quit professional football completely, and emigrated to South Africa in 1978. where he set up his own sportswear business as well as being a football coach for local black children. He is also chairman of the South African Arsenal Supporters’ Club.

8. Jon Sammels: 1961-1971.

Jon appeared in 270 matched over a 10 year period.

gun__1277731613_sammels_jonBorn in Ipswich, Suffolk, Jon joined Arsenal, the club he supported as a boy, in 1961, he was a regular in the reserves and a successful youth international winning seven caps for England.

He scored on his first-team debut for the Gunners on 27 April 1963, against Blackpool. However, he only played sparingly, twice in 1963-64 and not at all in 1964-65 and he did not secure a place in the side until the departure of Geoff Strong, and later George Eastham.

Not many footballers can say they’ve scored twice in a win over Brazil but Jon can, some of the world’s finest players descended on Highbury in November 1965 (although Pele and his fellow Santos internationals did not make the trip) but Jon stole the show with a goal in either half. And he was only 20 at the time.

Noted for his accurate passing and strong shooting, he broke through in 1965-66 and was an ever-present during the 1966-67 season. As well as being a regular for Arsenal, Jon played for the England U23 side nine times. He played in both of Arsenal’s League Cup final defeats in 1968 and 1969, before finally claiming a medal in the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup; he scored Arsenal’s winning goal in their 4-3 victory on aggregate over RSC Anderlecht, after Arsenal had trailed 3-1 after the first leg.

However, he lost his first team place in the 1970-71 season, thanks to an ankle injury and the emergence of George Graham; although he played enough games to win a First Division winner’s medal, but did not take part in the Gunners’ FA Cup Final win over Liverpool that completed their Double-winning season.

He submitted a transfer request, and he was duly sold to Leicester City for £100,000, Jon was a regular in the Leicester side for the next seven seasons, playing 265 matches for the Foxes, scoring 25 goals. Under Jimmy Bloomfield, Leicester were a talented and exciting side, but the only trophy they won was the 1971 Charity Shield, and they never finished above seventh in the League. He left Leicester on a free transfer in 1978, and played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL for a single season.

After that, he retired from the game and returned to the UK.

9. George Graham: 1966-1972.

George appeared in 308 games over a 6 year period.

Born in Bargeddie, Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of seven children, George grew up in poverty in Bargeddie, near Coatbridge. He showed considerable promise as a footballer, and clubs like Newcastle United, Chelsea and Aston Villa showed an interest in his talent.

ggrahamHe signed for Aston Villa in 1961, on his 17th birthday and spent three seasons at the Birmingham club, making only eight appearances. Chelsea signed him in 1964 for £5000.  George scored 35 goals in 72 league games for the club and won a League Cup medal in 1965, but he fell out with the Chelsea’s manager, Tommy Docherty.  At the same time, Arsenal were looking for a replacement for Joe Baker, and paid £75,000 plus Tommy Baldwin in 1966 to bring George to Highbury. He made his debut on 1 October 1966 at home to Leicester City and soon became a regular in the Arsenal side. He was Arsenal’s top scorer in both 1966–67 and 1967–68, having started out as a centre forward for the club, but later moved to inside forward.

He was a runner-up in both the 1968 and 1969 League Cup finals, before finally winning a medal in the 1969–70, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He followed it up with being an integral part of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71, and even had a claim to scoring Arsenal’s equaliser in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool, although Eddie Kelly is officially credited with the goal.

Winning the “Double” brought the attention of Scotland and he was selected for the national side for the first time against Portugal in 1971. He would go on to win twelve caps over the next two years for Scotland, scoring three goals, his final one coming against Brazil, by this time he was no longer an Arsenal player. The arrival of Alan Ball made his position at Arsenal less assured so he moved to Manchester United in December 1972 for £120,000. He spent two years at United, and was relegated to Division Two, before seeing out his career in England at Portsmouth and Crystal Palace. He played the summer of 1978 in America for the California Surf.

After retiring from playing, he became a coach at Crystal Palace and then later Queens Park Rangers. With the dismissal of Don Howe as Arsenal manager in March 1986, the Arsenal directors were interested in appointing Alex Ferguson, as their new manager with Graham as his assistant. However, Ferguson decided to wait until after the World Cup that summer before making a decision on his future, and so the Arsenal directors appointed Graham as their new manager on 14 May 1986.

In total, he played 308 matches for Arsenal, scoring 77 goals.

10. Frank McLintock: 1964-1973.

Frank appeared in 403 games over a 9 year period.

Frank was born in Glasgow and brought up in the Gorbals, he started his career in the Scottish Juniors with Shawfield, before moving to Leicester City in 1957 as a wing half, making his debut for them in 1959. He spent seven years at Filbert Street and he reached, but lost, two FA Cup finals (1961 and 1963) and a winning League Cup final (1964) During this time he also made his debut for Scotland, against Norway on 4 June 1963.

frank-mclintock-arsenal-football-player-1972In October 1964, he was signed by Arsenal for a club record £80,000 and went straight into the first team. He spent the next nine seasons with the Gunners, moving from midfield to centre half. He was a first-choice player throughout, and became the club’s captain in 1967, and would go on to skipper the club during their period of success under Bertie Mee. He reached  two League Cup finals (losing both, in 1968 and 1969), and became so disheartened that he handed in a transfer request in 1969, but manager Bertie Mee persuaded him to stay, and he went on to win three major trophies in the space of two years. In 1969-70, Frank led Arsenal to an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final win beating Anderlecht 4–3 on aggregate. The following year, 1970-71 , he lifted the club’s first League and FA Cup Double.

He went on to play for Queens Park Rangers and spent four seasons with them making a total of 127 League appearances before finally retiring from the game in the 1977 close season. In all, he played over 700 times for his three clubs combined.

After retiring from playing, he joined his old club Leicester City as manager in 1977. However, he endured a difficult time in charge, and City went through a spell where they had one win in 26 matches. He was later manager of Brentford between 1984 and 1987, and then a coach at Millwall, helping the club gain promotion to the old Division One.

In 1971 he won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award. In 1972 he was made an MBE and in 2009 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

In total, he had played 403 matches for Arsenal, scoring 32 goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


67 Responses to Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 3

  1. GuinnerN5 says:

    Is everybody still in bed?

    It’s only 5:05am here and I’ve showered and I’m a cup of tea.

    First time I’ve been first to post!

  2. GuinnerN5 says:

    Having a cup tea that is, obviously I’m still half asleep.

    Up very late last night and I was too wound up to sleep. The sale of my home had to be signed back to us by mid-night for it to be completed! We didn’t receive the sign back until 11:56pm – so things were a little tense but afterwards a lot of celebrating started.

  3. Morning all,

    it looks like we are stil in the sweaty-dominated player era of our history with the two names being most recognisable to me in todays selection.

    I didn’t realise GG was a prototype VanJudas in that he left us for the front bottoms of Salford although I did know about his Chav connections, so thanks for my continuing education in the history of our great club N5/GiE.

    Now I don’t often have transfer goss for you guys but today I have a little snippet – one that made me scoff.

    Where I work is near where Martin Keown lives and a guy in the office was golfing with him earlier this week and said to me that the rumour around The Grove is that we are working on acquiring the Hig and the Wig – and those 2 only on the basis that Wenger can get rid of 4 first teamers.

    Now I scoffed because of the wages issue with the Wig but apparently Wenger is going to structure his signing on bonus in such a way as make a lower basic salary easier to swallow for the Wig and his management team.

    Now this golfing buddy of Keown’s says that Keown is very much in touch with goings on at AFC still so you can make of that what you will.

  4. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all.

    GN5 it’s only 10.43 here but already I have had a full English breakfast, I’ve cut both front and back lawns as well as cutting down some of the Virginia Creeper that has crept round to the front of the house. Off down to the dump now to get rid of the mowings and cuttings.

    Big Al has gone to the pet shop to buy tomorrow’s breakfast. A cat! 😀

  5. GuinnerN5 says:

    We are like peas in a pod Norfolk, I usually get up around 5:00 am and spend a very peaceful few hours preparing myself for the day.

    Typically my wife and I go for a 6/7 kilometer walk at around 7:30 am, which really invigorates us for the day. Our walk usually takes us along the river Thames, and this time of year the river is teeming with new spring arrivals. If we leave early enough we get to see the young racoons, and foxes although the fox are very shy.

    Living in London, Ontario, all of the street name and the parks,, rivers, ponds and lakes are the same as London, England.

  6. Gooner In Exile says:

    Afternoon all……Graham the player was such a different proposition to Graham the manager….I never have understood how a player nicknamed “stroller” decided the best way to play was so direct ….was he just reacting to the ever growing dominance of others using the tactic or was he in favour of it?

    Chary on your gossiping all sounds feasible especially the bit about releasing four to acquire 2 which kind of suggests the boards I not be as free with the money as Gazidis wants to make us believe.

  7. Gooner In Exile says:

    Ooooooo Isco to Madrid……starts getting interesting.

    Chas in answer to your question about Liverpool’s signings:

    Toure (Kolo)

    Don’t know anything about Alberto and Aspas.

  8. GiE – I have my doubts purely because I assume the Mancs are not dumb enough to sell their star striker to a Premiership rival – ony we are that stupid !

  9. Gooner In Exile says:

    Maybe Chary….but now Suarez to Madrid looks less likely with Isco’s transfer, I think Suarez to City could happen.

  10. Isn’t Isco more of an attacking mid rather than a striker, like Saurez ? I thought Saurez’s major beef was with the media here, that wouldn’t get any better if he went to Shitty surely ? In that case I’d say Madrid looks more lilkely for him, IMHO.

    I know, it’s idle transfer chatter and I should know better, but what else is there in the close season ?

  11. GuinnerN5 says:

    Even though I won’t miss his antics I will miss Saurez as a player, losing both him and Tezez will make the EPL slightly less exciting.

  12. RockyLives says:

    Great bios again Gn5.

    I remember GG and McLintock better than Eastham and Sammels. I still think of Frank as primarily a CB but I understand the reasons why you have put him in this category.

    GG’s background as a CF explains his fantastic heading ability. He could really knock ’em in with power!

  13. RockyLives says:

    The idea of losing four of the first team is fine (I suppose) if it’s the first team squad and that includes Arshavin, Squillaci and one or two other fringe players. Maybe canning Diaby, finally.

    I can’t see us being able to axe four REAL first teasers without making us uncompetitive.

  14. RockyLives says:

    *first teamers

  15. Ha Ha Mr Rock “Teasers” – cue a chauvanistic joke there, one I won’t be making.

  16. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Ciao Rocky, Come è il tempo in Puglia, speranza si sta godendo una vacanza.

  17. neamman says:

    THESE are the players I grew up with, my idols. Sammels was very skilful ..I remember before a game at Spurs I watched him repeatedly kick a ball 10 yards up and then trap it using his thigh, sure enough later in the game he used the trick. It was a shame how some of the crowd turned against him and it was from that time that my hatred of so called fans who boo our players began. I have seen some lousy Arsenal players in my time but I have never booed one.
    George Graham was sometimes lazy as a player but also very skilful and arguably our best header of the ball. I always liked him and when he went to MU there wasn’t the bad feelings towards him that we have about RVP.
    These were the days when we actually did deals with Spurs for squad players.. Jenkins for Robertson coming to mind. Definitly a deal we did best on.
    Eastham I remember but have to say as I was just a nipper at the time I cant remember much other than he was a good player and our star along with Baker.
    McLintock..nothing needs to be said other than he is a true legend. A great great captain and, to me, a better defender than midfield player.

  18. RockyLives says:

    Ciao Norfolk
    Many thanks – I am indeed having a very pleasant time. Just been for an excellent meal in the little town of Martina Franca. Antipasti cost 7 Euros and consisted of 14 dishes…

  19. evonne says:

    Isco to Madrid. They won’t need Bale now, surely?

  20. evonne says:

    the most horrible, evil, vile, ugly bastards I have ever seen

  21. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Evonne I suspect that they will buy him anyway,just because they can. He’ll look very good on their bench.

  22. evonne says:

    back to the great post – another revelation – it was Eastham who started holding clubs to ransom, nice one!
    I am also surprised at how many great Scottish players we have had in the past; why are we sometimes called the Irish club??

    GN5 – cannot thank you enough.

  23. GuinnerN5 says:


    Or swinging above the bench.

  24. Norfolk Gooner says:

    I remember watching George Eastham take a penalty at Highbury, he just took two or three tottery looking paces and slipped the ball into the opposite corner to the one where the ‘keeper had dived. Classic!

  25. evonne says:

    Norfolk 🙂 🙂 he might be a spud, but an unusually good spud. He won’t sit on any bench

  26. Norfolk Gooner says:

    GN5…while scratching his armpit. 😀

  27. evonne says:

    BTW, why are you GuinnerN5? what’s the ‘i’ for?

  28. chas says:

    Excellent, GN5.

    George Eastham goal playing for England at 0.30

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    “I” don’t know it just kinda slid in.

  30. Danny says:

    Excellent post, really enjoying these.
    Two points though – I don’t think McLintock played and won the League Cup in 1964, and two, it’s worth mentioning that Eastham scored the winning goal in the 1972 League Cup final at the age of 35.

  31. chas says:

    Graham, Sammels and McLintock playing in my older bro’s favourite ever game.

  32. neamman says:

    look at the terrible pitch

  33. chas says:

    McLintock didn’t play in the two legged League cup final in 1964 but played five times on the road to the final and scored three goals in those five games.
    The goals were against Gillingham and two (one in each) in the two legged semi against West Ham.
    To say he didn’t win the League cup with Leicester in 1964 is a tad harsh.

  34. evonne says:

    neamman – never mind the pitch, Chas’s clips are beginning to resemble the game as we know it again 🙂

    The atmosphere though – feck, I have never seen anything like it

  35. GunnerN5 says:

    Fantastic clip of the Fairs Cup game.

    Now that is what Arsenal supporters were like back then, admittedly they had something to cheer about but boy oh boy did they ever cheer the team on………….

  36. neamman says:

    well back then there were no crowd restrictions so there would be 50-60000 people in Highbury. All standing and drinking. That helped!!

  37. RockyLives says:

    Love it every time 😀 😀 😀

  38. chas says:

    Morning, Rocky.
    It seemed a while since I’d seen a chicken on a basketball.

  39. mickydidit89 says:

    Absolutely superb GN5, thank you

    Last day in Paris for this week on what Chas calls manoevres, I call work and Daddy calls Hols

    How many days left to KO?

  40. chas says:

    Too many

  41. RockyLives says:

    Gay Paris, eh Micky?

    Last day in Italia for me today… flying back tomorrow morning.

  42. chas says:

    Micky, I’m sure your fag breaks are planned with military precision.

  43. chas says:

    Have you been smoking Gitanes or Gauloises, Berbatov stylee?

  44. chas says:

    Micky’s off back to Gay Exeter next, Rocky. 🙂

  45. RockyLives says:

    Was that LB and BR racing each other to the Arsenal Tavern, Chas?

  46. RockyLives says:

    I’m bored of transfer talk now. I feel like hibernating until the start of the season.

  47. LB says:

    Messengers give cyclists a bad name.

    I want to eat anti-pasta in Martina Franca.

  48. LB says:

    This lunch time.

  49. LB says:

    Off out cycling, about 10 of us meet in Regents Park on Friday morning.

  50. chas says:

    I’ll believe Higgy and Wiggy are Arse players when they have a cannon on their chests

  51. RockyLives says:

    Exactly Chas
    I can’t bear to read another “Arsenal close in on…” story.

    Have a good ride. I can certainly recommend the food here in Puglia. If you can make it by lunchtime I’ll get the Peronis in…

  52. mickydidit89 says:


    My Pink Pussy now appears from my mobile

    Sitting in a cafe as we speak, gasper in one paw and noisette in the other. Civilized start to the day

    Very civilized

  53. RockyLives says:


    You found a noisy little minx then, eh Micky?

  54. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    Well that video of us winning the Home leg against Anderlecht brought back so many memories .I know Raddy was there that night as well and you really have to have been there to soak up the atmosphere.The crowd went absolutely mental ,in fact I can’t remember another Home game that I attended where the joy and relief mixed together was so intense.
    One tends to forget how good Eddie Kelly was,especially that night.

    With regards to the 4 feautured players they all had their virtues and having had the pleasure of meeting two of them on several occassions I have to tell you that IMO Frank McClintock is a charming man.We met about 5/6 years ago at a charity golf lunch and he said to me then that Arsenal need a Tony Adams type character if we were going to go up a notch. incidently he has 4 sons none of which became professional footballers.

    With regards to impending transfers as I said the other day even allowing for detailed negotiations we are experts at prolonging any deal when so many fans are looking at the club especially this season with apparently so much money available,to see if they really have the intentions of signing a quality player or two.

    It looks like the Higuian deal is not done and dusted and others have been mentioned by the media. I firmly believe that Wenger is not putting all his efforts in signing one particular player to play as CF. believe it or believe it not that we bid for Torres doesn’t mean he wants to leave Chelsea or actually wants to join us and the same can be said about Rooney or anyone else.Lewandoski perhaps.

    What will Wenger do about the two poles.Will Fabianski want to stay and run his contract down.? Schwarzer is now on a free, does AW not want him now ?
    I wish I could read into what Gazidis and Wenger are actually thinking.

  55. mickydidit89 says:

    Noisette is a double express with a shot of milk

    Noisy Minx have ensured 4am is the earliest I have managed to get to bed, and all that while I’m meant to be on manoeuvres with 6am starts

  56. Red Arse says:

    Damn! The things you learn on the early shift. (well earlyish for me). 🙂

    Micky has outed himself, or was the admirable Chas the emissary of such a morsel?

    But hold! Micky is flashing his pink pussy – and God knows about Rocky, he seems to be showing unusual interest in a minx – or is that a sign of vacillation!

    No — back to bed for me!!

  57. evonne says:

    Kelsey – IG and AW get paid rather large amounts of money for that headache. Are you sure you want it for nothing ?

  58. evonne says:

    No many people commented on last night’s game, I wonder why? I must admit to being bored; didn’t wait for extra time, but that’s me – cannot get too excited about internationals

    poor bastards at Glastonbury – no rolling in mud this year, dry and sunny all weekend 🙂

  59. Morning all

    It seems there’s no post for today, does anyone have a gem of one tucked up their sleeve or even an ordinary one will do 😉

  60. RockyLives says:

    quick one in drafts

  61. Starman ………… and you on your hols, thanks 🙂

  62. New Post ………………….

  63. I just like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check once more here regularly. I’m fairly sure I’ll be told a lot of new stuff right right here! Good luck for the next!

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