Olympics football – Arsenal’s amateur heroes

The past few weeks have been partly about celebration. Celebrating the gold winning exploits in the World Cup of our three proud German Gooners, and who knows, by the end of the transfer window this may yet turn out to be four German Gooners. Hush, hush!

Along the way, the Germans overcame the French team that included three Gooners, one of whom has since left Arsenal to be promptly replaced by another one at the same position.

Together, we were enthralled by the fantastic performances by our new Chilean Gooner, our as-good-as-new Costa Rican superstar, and maybe even the Colombian Gooner. Hush, hush! The singleton Gooners on the Belgian and Swiss squads had decent campaigns. Overall, quite a lot to celebrate then! No wonder Gooners around the world are going around with their grins spreading ear to ear.

At the same time, there were sombre thoughts as well, not least in the poor returns for the England team. Our two good guys in the England team had mostly futile excursions, and so did our Spanish Gooner. It seems World Cup glory requires years of preparation, and a thorough system through which young players can emerge. Surprise, surprise!

Understandably, youth development has been in the air. As I have argued in Part I of this series, in most leading footballing countries, Olympics men’s football plays an important role in the development of young players.

This then brings us to the questions of today’s post. In its long history, have Arsenal had many significant heroes who shone at the national level in the Olympics men’s football tournament? And if so, who were these heroes?

At the outset, there is a confession to make. We do not expect many such players. Why? First, because Great Britain does not usually qualify for the Olympics football competition and even when they do, they usually do not enter a team. The reasons for this are complex, and I will go into that later in the series. But just to set the perspective, a Great Britain football team has participated only in 9 Olympic Games since inception of national Olympics football: 1908 (prior games in 1900 and 1904 used club teams), 1912, 1920, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, and finally after a long break in the 2012 Games.

Second, until 1992, only amateur players competed in the Olympic Games, at least officially, and since then Olympics football has been officially designated as largely an under-23 tournament, with only three over-age players allowed per nation. Hence, Olympics football players would not normally be expected to play for Arsenal. However, Olympics may be a good place to scout for players, and some such players may have come to play for Arsenal when they turned professional, or more lately, when they emerged from the academy.

Today, I focus on the amateur Olympics football era. Only 5 Olympian amateur footballers for Great Britain were signed by Arsenal after turning professional, all of them British. They are Harold Adrian Walden and Gordon Rahere Hoare (1912, both Gold medallists), Bernard Joy (1936 Games), Stanley Charlton (1952) and Laurie Brown (1960). In addition, Maurice Edelston, who played for team GB in the 1936 Games was a wartime guest footballer for Arsenal. Let us find out a bit more about these 5 players, and a sixth as well.

Olympics 1912 team (1)The Football Association entered a Great Britain national amateur team in the 1912 Olympic Games. The team won the gold medal, though the IOC accredits Great Britain and Ireland with the medal. Walden and Hoare were key members of this team.

1912 British Olympic Football Team – Harold Walden back row, 4th from left, Gordon Hoare back row, 3rd from right

Harold Adrian Walden (10 October 1887 – 2 December 1955) played in all three matches and scored eleven goals: 6 goals in the 7-0 decimation of Hungary, all 4 goals in the 4-0 semi-final victory over Finland, and one goal in the 4-2 victory over Denmark in the final. Hoare scored 2 of the other 3 goals in the final. Walden holds the record of being the ‘Highest British goal scorer within the Olympics’ and is still the fourth highest goal scorer overall within the Olympics.

Walden was born in Umballa, India, where his dad was serving with the 2nd Cheshire Regiment. His family returned to live in Manchester in 1889. He joined the army in 1902 and served in India and Ireland. He played for the Army against the Navy in 1910 and 1911, and also served in World War I, rising to the rank of captain. After the war ended he joined Arsenal and played six times for the Gunners, scoring a single goal and in four friendlies, with his debut coming on 12 February 1921.

On retirement from football, Walden carved out a second career as actor in theatre and films. He played the lead role of ‘Jack Metherill’ in the 1920 film ‘The Winning Goal’, and also played himself on stage in his football shirt in the 1948 film ‘Cup Tie Wedding’. He became part of the famous Ernest Binns Arcadian Follies in the 1940’s. He fell on hard times and in the early 1950’s his Gold Medal was sold.

Olympics 1912 - GB vs Hungary - Walden

Walden – extreme right, with the ball

Gordon Rahere Hoare (18 April 1884 – 27 October 1973) scored two goals in the final. He joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1907, making his League debut in a First Division match against Sheffield Wednesday on 20 April 1908, the last day of the 1907-08 season. Although he played 11 League matches in 1908-09, scoring five goals, unhappy at the lack of regular first team football and moved to Glossop North End in December 1909.

Hoare returned to Woolwich Arsenal in December 1910. He scored six times in fourteen games for Arsenal in the 1910-11 season but was once again dropped at the start of the following season, unable to oust John Chalmers and Charles Randall from the front line. He rejoined Glossop in February 1912. In total, Hoare played 34 times for Arsenal, scoring 13 goals.

Olympics 1912 Stockholm Football Final - Hoare

Hoare – Front right

Hoare and Walden were the first Arsenal players who played football for Great Britain in the Olympics, and they both won gold medals. Arsenal then had to wait an awfully long time to find another Olympic gold medallist. More on that later. Now, let us focus on some other amateur players played in the Olympics and later signed for Arsenal.

Prior to and following the start of the World Cup, the relationship between the FA and IOC turned sour, most notably in British protests against other nations fielding professional players. As Arsenal star and Olympian Bernard Joy in Association Football (1960) wrote: “Out of pocket expenses were paid far in excess of the reimbursement for hotels and travelling. … [Payments] for time lost from work, were made for playing and training, and teams were taken off for intense preparation together. Whatever the reason or excuse, thinly-veiled professionalism was rampant.”

After some protracted negotiations, a GB football team was entered in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. They lost in the quarter-finals 4-5 to Poland, but Arsenal player and captain Bernard Joy scored 2 goals.

bernard-joy-olympianBernard Joy (29 October 1911 – 18 July 1984) joined the then First Division champions Arsenal in May 1935. Joy mainly played as a reserve, only playing two games in his first season – he didn’t make his debut for Arsenal until 1 April 1936 against Bolton Wanderers. Arsenal won the FA Cup that season but Joy played no part in the final.

Joy 2

Highbury 1939. Wilson (Arsenal) saves while Bernard Joy (centre) holds off Hunt (Bolton)


However, he did gain recognition at international level soon after, when on 9 May 1936, he played for England in their 3-2 loss against Belgium, making him the last amateur to play for the national side. Given the nature of professional and amateur games in the modern day, it is unlikely Joy’s record will ever be taken by another player. Although Joy was playing for Arsenal at the time, he was still registered as a Casuals player and he is recorded in the England history books as playing for them at the time, not Arsenal. Interesting! 😛


Joy book

Joy continued to play for Arsenal, mainly deputising for the Gunners’ established centre-half Herbie Roberts. Roberts suffered a broken leg in October 1937 and Joy took his place in the side for the remainder of the 1937-38 season, winning a First Division winners’ medal, and then, with Roberts having retired from the game, on through the 1938-39 season (earning a 1938 Charity Shield winners’ medal in the process).

With the advent of World War II, Joy joined the Royal Air Force, though he still turned out for Arsenal (playing over 200 wartime matches) and won an unofficial wartime England cap. In June 1940, he was one of five Arsenal players who guested for Southampton in a victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. He also appeared as a guest player for West Ham United later in World War II making two appearances. He retired from top-flight football in December 1946.

In all, he played 95 first-class (that is, non-wartime) matches for Arsenal, though he never scored a goal. However, with Arsenal, he won the First Division in 1937-38, and the FA Charity Shield (now the FA Community Shield) in 1938. Finally, Bernard Joy wrote perhaps the first authoritative history of Arsenal Football Club.


The 1936 GB Olympics football team led by Bernard Joy also included Maurice Edelston (27 April 1918 – 30 January 1976) who was a wartime guest footballer for Arsenal. Later on, he became a brilliant commentator and is mostly remembered in this role.

Maurice Edelston


Next up is Stanley “Stan” Charlton (28 June 1929 – 20 December 2012) who was a stand-by player for the 1952 Olympics team. In November 1955 Charlton joined Arsenal and succeeded Len Wills as the club’s first-choice right back. He made his debut on 24 December 1955 against Chelsea and was an ever-present in the 1956–57 and 1957–58 teams. He played for the London XI in both legs of the semi-finals of the 1955–58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Lausanne Sports. Before quitting Arsenal in December 1958, he had made 110 appearances, scoring three goals (all of them in the FA Cup).

The final Olympian who later turned professional and played for Arsenal was Laurence (“Laurie”) Brown (22 August 1937 – 30 September 1998) who played in the 1960 Olympic Games in Italy (Rome). Great Britain failed to progress to the knockout stage and came eighth overall. The British team lost 3-4 to Brazil, drew 2-2 with hosts Italy and defeated China 3-2. Brown scored 4 goals, 2 against Brazil and one each against Italy and China.

Laurie Brown

In August 1961 he signed for First Division Arsenal, and immediately became a first-team regular in the Arsenal side. Brown amassed 109 appearances for the Gunners in two-and-a-half seasons, scoring two goals. At the time, Arsenal were the less successful of the two north London sides, and Brown made the surprising move up the Seven Sisters Road to Arsenal’s deadly rivals, Tottenham Hotspur in February 1964. 😦 Brown became one of the few players to play for both clubs.

That’s it for this time, folks. A glimpse of a mostly forgotten part of our history. 5 (and a half) Olympians and 2 gold medallists. Next time it will be the turn of our youth Olympians.

Written by Arnie


42 Responses to Olympics football – Arsenal’s amateur heroes

  1. arnie says:

    Chums. A note of apology. I am off to the US MidWest and will be away most of the day. But will be back on AA much later to respond, just in case. 😛

    And, by the way, 1st. And a first 1st. The first time a poster on AA has been the first respondent to his/her post! 😛

  2. arnie says:

    oh dear, not quite true, and thank you, jgrozny. 🙂

  3. RA says:


    An absolutely stunning, indeed epic, story of a little known (to me at least) part of Arsenal history, with the names of some vaguely recalled players, such as Laurie Brown.

    Well done sir, very enjoyable read, though I had to rely on my speed reading techniques as I just wanted to get to the next bit.

    GN5, is the accredited AA whizz at Arsenal history, but he has a worthy colleague in you after this. 🙂

  4. mickydidit89 says:

    Wow, Arnie, that did not take ten minutes hard word, didit? Fascinating.

    Going back to the amateurs, I always look for names. Disappointed not to see a Lord, or even a Rt Hon, but love all middle name inclusions: Harold Adrian Walden and Gordon Rahere Hoare.

    Then you get the “stating the bleeding obvious” ones like Stanley “Stan” Charlton, which is pathetic, and a bit like Wayne “Fatso” Rooney or Olivier “Pantsdown” Giroud.

    Anyway, fabulous read. Thank you.

    You’re off to the States, and I’m not, because I’ve just caught flu and am miserable as sin.

  5. RA says:

    Watch out, arnie, that tricky Micky is claiming credit for your work!

    –“Wow, Arnie, that did not take ten minutes hard word, didit?”

    Disgraceful. 🙂

  6. LB says:

    What an amazing read.

    Thanks Arnie.

  7. Eddie says:

    wow, wow, wow, that’s a post and a half! Thank you arnie, I didn’t know any of these, all new to me.

    What surprised me was the fact that all our heroes lived long lives, I thought that in those days average life for a male was between 55 and 65. Well, I am pleased to see that all except Brown who was killed by guilt and damp conditions in N17, all of the athletes lived long and happy lives

    Thank you arnie for bringing them back to life today

  8. GunnerN5 says:

    Well done arnie, a very good historical accounting of early Arsenal players – right up my alley. I also appreciate the amount of time and effort that it must have taken to create this article. Credit to you my friend.

    It took this old fart a while to read as I don’t possess the speed reading skills of our learned friend RA.

  9. RA says:


    I popped back to see how things were progressing with the comments on your wonderful Post, and unfortunately, in a similar way to the comment ‘hits’ for GN’s opuses, or as us ex-Latin scholars might have it ‘opera’ [It’s all to do with Latin declensions – but that’s another story] 🙂 there is an apparent lack.

    Can I say to you what I said to GN5, it is actually a compliment to you both that people can indulge in a well written and fascinating essay, and simple enjoy the read, and have nothing to ask as the topic is so well covered.

    [That may be interpreted as a slagging off by a certain person, so can I deny that in advance?] 🙂

  10. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Well done Arnie, that’s an amazing post, having only skimmed it I’m going to go back later and read it again with the attention it so richly deserves.

  11. kelsey says:


    what an amazing well researched post,so well done you.That certainly wasn’t a ten minute thought out post. 😉

    I remember Bernard Joy as the football editor of The London Evening Standard and always had a positive slant on his old club
    Laurie Brown, gave his all but not the best defender I have seen in an Arsenal shirt 🙂

  12. arnie says:

    thanks for the comments, chums. I took enormous pleasure in researching and writing. I think it is nice to document our history, as GN5 has been brilliantly doing. Nice to know AAers enjoy the info, even if it is not that topical. 🙂

    In Chicago now, onwards to Lansing. Off now, back laters. 🙂

  13. stevepalmer1 says:

    Evening all,
    Took your advice Arnie and went fishing, Lost one and caught one, just a short session.

    Well that was a remarkable post Arnie, well done mate. Always good to know a bit about our history, and like Gn5’s Post’s not getting the comments it deserves. Seems to me that nowadays people only seem to want to know the future, with posts like this, not many can say i was there. But i am just glad i was here to read it..

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Nice comment Steve, right on the money.

    By the way I hope you realize that there was nothing personal intended in my comment about your post yesterday. I simply felt it was inappropriate for AA. However if I had the opportunity for a face to face dialogue on the subject matter with you we would most likely end up in agreement.

  15. RockyLives says:

    Brilliant read Arnie – well done!

  16. arnie says:

    Thanks a lot, chums.

    Sampling Chicago food and an independent bookstore was fun. But it took an awfully long time, plus there was an hour stuck in traffic on Lake Shore Drive. OK, the scenes were nice, Lake Michigan was exactly how I imagined it would be. 😛 Reached very late, but now safely lodged in Lansing. 🙂

  17. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all,
    Another fine start with sun streaming in the windows and doors wide open, boy i love the summer.

    Morning Gn5, Don’t give it a second thought mate 🙂

    Many see Arsenal Arsenal as a small friendly blog site, they see familiar names every day, and they don’t like to rock the boat.
    Now i see Arsenal Arsenal as a small Blog site that should be getting more hits, i feel that the authors are very good, but i also like to see strangers coming on, and sharing with us some of their experiences,

    Arsenal Arsenal has a world wide platform, but we are lucky to have 30 comments, i feel we need cutting edge stuff that catches the attention of Arsenal fans, flying by the seat of our pants so to speak, I realise that Libellous posts can harm us, and i take what you and some of the others have said on board, and of course many’s the time you are right.

    We can stay a blog that keeps a few friendly faces or we can build, and i feel this site could build, maybe not with the stuff i write but some of you others should be attracting more visits.

  18. RA says:

    Morning All. 🙂

    Steve this is a very quiet period in the history of AA, and is caused by a number of the top stars being on holiday or taking a sabbatical.

    Once the game resumes, we will have Big Raddish back to give us his pre-match Posts, Kelsey will give us his pre-everything, Rocky the Doyen of Essayists will get back to his magical best, and others like GN5, arnie, and you will be giving us your views – and in addition, Rasp will emerge,at last, from his cocoon as a beautiful butterfly – or should that be he will have changed from a tadpole into a warty frog, Peaches will be back with her whip, and Evonne will be … well, White Bear/Eddie/Baggy-Pants whatever takes her fancy, and the breakfast bunch of Chas, Micky & Co will be talking – just talking – (hope you are feeling better Surf Man, and we might have CharyB back to lash us with his trenchant and fun views.

    So, you see, not all is lost!! 🙂

  19. stevepalmer1 says:

    I stand Corrected 🙂

  20. kelsey says:


    If I may add to the above from our literate as opposed to illiterate, RA,Steve all blogs have a hard core of posters but the main difference on AA is that we always welcome new posters as opposed to ignoring them,Rasp makes a point of that,and as a rule don’t use sensational headlines just so we get thousands of hits on AA.

    Rocky has a knack of writing fantastic posts and one I believe produced 43000 hits on one day.

    We are a diverse lot on here and in case you didn’t see peaches comment a few months ago it was decided not always to have a daily new post during these Summer months but normal service will be resumed 🙂

  21. kelsey says:

    According to quite a number of reports all our players that were at the WC will return back to training in stages so we may be not at anything like full strength for the Charity Shield and other pre season matches and there is a possibility that our German conitngent may not all be match fit for our first game of the season,so logic tells me that if Vermaelen goes in a swap deal or whatever it will be towards the end of the window.

  22. stevepalmer1 says:

    What to do today is the question, Mrs going to work for a few hours and me at a loose end, I have a grape vine going along the back of the house and when i open the French doors a bunch of grapes drops in the living room, perhaps i should tie some of them back.

    This seems a good year for grapes, i must say i have never seen mine so full. I make home made wines and beers, and i am looking forward to these grapes ripening.

    I made some Elderflower wine and attempted some elderflower champagne, trouble is i was a bit late bottling, and its turned out semi sparkling, still very nice though 🙂 I have a hundred bottles of different kinds of wines sitting in Racks and over a hundred bottles of different beers, Recently diagnosed with Diabetes 2 i now only sip a few .

    A bumper crop of grapes is all i need, but i am not going to waste this opportunity, after all next years could be barren 🙂

    Just filling in waiting for the new post :).

  23. stevepalmer1 says:

    Thank you Kelsey for the info, Let me make it quite clear that i am not knocking AA or anybody else, just an observation.

  24. Well done Arnie

    I’ve only just got around to reading your excellent article. Well researched and fascinating. Enjoy your trip to the US of A.

  25. Motning all,

    funny you should say that Redders but I have a post along the lines of a hatchet job on LV Gaal, the new caretaker at Old Toilet, formulating in my mind.

  26. RA says:

    Now that will be worth waiting for, CharyB!!! 🙂

    And good morning to you too.

  27. stevepalmer1 says:

    Peaches, if you are out of the pit yet, i need some advice, seeing how you are an expert on these matter’s. I have a Wisteria climber which has been in for about ten years,running alongside my vines, and i have never had a flower on it. I have looked on the internet and they say that if a Wisteria is grown from seed it will never bloom, but this one was brought from a Garden centre, I have other Wisteria plants that i did grow from seed, and they have been in for about 3 years and sure enough nothing.

    Is there anything i can do to get my Garden centre one blooming.

  28. Morning all

    My laptop has gone nuts this morning and I can’t get behind the scenes. I’ll try again in a while ………. Chat amongst yourselves on arnie’s excellent post until I can do something new.

  29. Hi Steve – Wisterias are grafted onto flowering species so your bought one definitely should. I would be inclined to cut it back quite hard and give it a regular feed of something like tomato fertiliser or liquid seaweed – both are high in Potassium which promotes fruiting and flowers. In the autumn give it a good mulch of well rotted horse manure.

  30. What a lovely blog…. gardening tips as well 🙂

  31. Problem is, you’ll soon have the Transplant man asking how he can increase the size of his cucumber and get his seed into the hole earlier in the season 🙂

  32. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning Northbank, looking forward to you new episode.

    Peaches, still luvs ya 🙂

  33. Morning Steve

    Not sure I will post Part 4 this week, it gets rather complicated and I’m having problems putting together something readable!

    It’s not Peaches I’m worried about, it’s her Mum 🙂

  34. stevepalmer1 says:

    Thats alright NB i can wait 🙂

  35. LBG says:

    Morning AAs, or GGGs – Great Gardening Gurus. I too have some fantastic grapes on my three year old vine and am looking forward to the approx half dozen bottles promised by my expert beer and wine-maker neighbour next door. Just finished my jam marathon for the season. Blackcurrants, gooseberries and yesterday, Victoria plums. Wet winter and mild spring has done wonders for soft fruit.
    Role on the footie season. Enjoy the sun everyone!

  36. LBG says:

    Sorry, “roll”. Not good for an ex-teacher!

  37. kelsey

    That is Terence, he’s now waiting for a mega payout to compensate for more than a small piece of foreskin to be cut away. Ouch indeed 🙂

  38. New Post everyone …………………

  39. continuously i used to read smaller posts that as well clear their motive, and that
    is also happening with this paragraph which I am reading
    at this time.

  40. Thanks for the help in this question, can, I too can help you something?

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