Back to the beginning of Arsenal

Arsenal’s inception came on October 4th, 1886 in the Prince of Wales pub on the edge of Plumstead Common; during a meeting of the Dial Square Cricket Club it was decided to expand the club to include a football section. According to various reports the main people behind adding the football section were David Danskin. Elijah Watkins, Fred Beardsley, John Humble and Richard Pearce.

The first day of the L.G.O.C. route 99 outside the “Prince of Wales,” on the 22 May, 1916

David Danskin (9 Jan 1863 – 4 Aug 1948) was born in Burntisland, Fife, and grew up in Kirkcaldy. He played as an amateur for Kirkcaldy Wanderers; two of his team mates were Jack McBean and Peter Connolly, who would later join him at Royal Arsenal. In 1885 Danskin moved to London to find work, and took a job, as an engineer, at the Dial Square workshop at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. There he met Jack Humble and former Nottingham Forest players Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates. John Humble and David Danskin are considered to have been the driving force behind the formation of a works football team, Dial Square FC.

Dial Square Sundial, Woolwich

Danskin organised a whip-round amongst his fellow enthusiasts and purchased Dial Square’s first football, and captained the team in their very first match against Eastern Wanderers on 11 December 1886; Dial Square won 6–0. Danskin continued to play for Royal Arsenal, as the club were soon renamed afterwards, for the next two years. Due to an injury incurred against Clapton in January 1889, Danskin elected to step down from the side and rarely played after that.


Arsenal turned professional in 1891, and although Danskin stood for election to the club’s committee in 1892, he did not succeed in getting elected. He ended his official association with Arsenal and later became associated with a new works team from the area, Royal Ordnance Factories, which folded in circa 1896. He also officiated as a referee in local matches. He was still fond enough of Arsenal to attend their games, and his son Billy used to sell programmes at their Manor Ground as a child.

He later started up his own bicycle manufacturing business in Plumstead, before moving to Coventry in 1907 to work for the Standard Motor Company. In his later life he was troubled by ill-health, caused by football related injuries to his legs, and took early retirement. He died in a hospice in Warwick in 1948, at the age of 85 and was buried at London Road Cemetery in Coventry.

In 2007, to commemorate his role in the club’s history, the Arsenal Scotland Supporters Club dedicated a blue plaque to Danskin, near his birthplace in Burntisland.

During Arsenal’s 125th anniversary celebrations, two of David Danskin’s great-grandchildren delivered the match ball for Arsenal’s 1–0 victory over Everton at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal celebrated another milestone.



22 Responses to Back to the beginning of Arsenal

  1. LBG says:

    Thanks GN5 for your usual top quality delve into the historical archives.
    Shame the blue plaque in 2007 was already corrupted by the wrong badge!

  2. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. Fascinating.

    LBG. I wonder why they used the crap and inappropriate crest. More corporate crap.

  3. chas says:

    Excellent, GN5.

  4. chas says:

  5. GunnerN5 says:


    Thank you so much that was a wonderful read, being an Arsenal history buff it made my day.

    I hope that the plans AFC have for a headstone on his grave become a reality as it would be totally appropriate.

  6. LB says:

    A cycle enthusiast and a football enthusiast, a man after my own heart.

    Thanks for the read GN5

  7. fred1266 says:

    Fred Beardsley what a great name

  8. allezkev says:

    Hopefully we’ll see some positive developments later this year GN5, I always enjoy your historical posts, so thanks for your work.

  9. mickydidit89 says:


    Thanks LBG and GN5. Both great reads for the weary traveller 😦

    I hate travelling. It’s a full moon, and I’m very tired, plus we’re now going deep into International Break

  10. mickydidit89 says:


    I’ll do promised post.

    Have much to do before 8:30, but will squeeze one out before

  11. chas says:

    Morning, Micky.
    Don’t worry about a post for today as it sounds like you’ve got far too much on your plate already.

    I’ve cooked up a poll on Mesut/Ramsey – so it’s all cushty

  12. chas says:

    Haha, our timing is absolute shite these days 🙂

    Like I said, if you see my comment before starting, then have a break.
    Then again, I know you can crack one out in 3 minutes, so if you do put something together, I’ll whack it up.

  13. chas says:

  14. mickydidit89 says:

    ha ha

    Ok, up with the poll.

    I’ve nearly finished but the people love a poll 🙂

  15. mickydidit89 says:

    Of course I’ll send it over for using tomorrow

  16. mickydidit89 says:


    As much as anything, I love the settings he uses for his creations

    Great to see Daltry although I really don’t want to know how he fits into the brexit shitfest

  17. chas says:

    Likewise Kim Jong Un, Ian Beale, Rusty Lee (?), Alan Brazil, Peter Shilton (?) and Cilla, of course.

    When I first saw this I thought Daltrey was John Bercow!

  18. chas says:


  19. Martin Barney Barnes says:

    The pub in your photo is the Prince of Wales, Avenue road, Erith. Not Plumstead.

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