Arsenal’s Century Club – Frank Stapleton

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Frank Stapleton sits at number 15.

Francis Anthony “Frank” Stapleton was born 10 July 1956 in Dublin.

Arsenal’s Irish boys

Frank was a tough tackling forward who was an especially good header of the ball. He started his career with Arsenal, joining them in 1972 as an apprentice, after being turned down by Manchester United. He made his first-team debut in 1975 against Stoke City, and went on to form a potent striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald; the two scored 46 goals between them in 1976–77.

He was Arsenal’s top scorer for the three following seasons, and helped the Gunners reach a trio of FA Cup finals; Stapleton scored one of the goals in Arsenal’s 1979 FA Cup Final 3–2 win over Manchester United, and scored 108 goals in 300 appearances in total for the Gunners. His 100th goal was scored in an away game against Nottingham Forest on Feb 21st 1981.

Stapleton went on to move to Manchester United in 1981 for £900,000 (a fee set by tribunal after the two clubs could not agree). He helped United win the 1983 and 1985 FA Cups. It was in the first of those finals, when he scored against Brighton, in which Stapleton made history by becoming the first man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals.  He left United in 1987, after scoring 78 goals for the club in 365 matches.

He went on to play for Ajax Amsterdam, before returning to England with Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Aldershot, Huddersfield Town (as player-coach) and Bradford City, where he spent three seasons after a brief period at Le Havre in France. After being sacked as Bradford’s player-manager in 1994, he had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1994–95 season, playing two games before finally announcing his retirement as a player.

In 1966 Frank moved to the United States to manage Major League Soccer side New England Revolution.

His team was one of only two which did not reach the play offs in Major League Soccer’s inaugural, season he endured a season long battle with the club’s star player and a running feud with some of its more vocal supporters. In the end, however, it was what he perceived as a “vicious” media campaign and the effect it was having on his family that led Frank Stapleton to tender his resignation as coach of the New England Revolution last week.

“I just don’t need any more pressure put on my family,” said Stapleton. “I’m trained to deal with this stuff, but just because you’re married to a footballer doesn’t mean she (wife Chris) can cope with it. Your kids and your family are not immune. I tried to keep them away from it as much as possible, but. In a 17 year professional career at Arsenal, Manchester United, and Ajax, he thought he had endured the best the English tabloid press could dish out, but, he said on a personal level, this was even worse. I don’t expect not to be criticised, but this became an ongoing situation. It was as if there was a rivalry between the Boston papers to see who could be the most vicious.”


p.s. Unfortunately Frank tarnished his legacy somewhat with his move to Man United –  much in the same way that the dog-fancier has done more recently. Here’s a photo of the younger Vines Brother with Frank at the Old Cowshed taken 10 years ago. Frank still earns his 30 pieces of silver as a United legend on matchdays (as far as I know).

Ant and a nervous-looking Frank

Apparently, Frank was very willing to have his photo taken but got a little jittery when Ant revealed he was an Arsenal supporter and was insistent on knowing why Frank had left the Club. 🙂


47 Responses to Arsenal’s Century Club – Frank Stapleton

  1. LB says:

    I always remember being so confused as a kid as to how someone that I had so much respect for could just up sticks and leave — to those — up there, how, how, how?

    As you can see I am completely over it now 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    This chap was before my time – I do enjoy reading about past players though (& the club before I became a gooner) so thanks for that GN5! Looking forward to many more articles like this…👍
    Isn’t that always the way (about their legacy being tarnished with a move to Old Trafford)?
    Not sure about others on here, but I cannot stand Man United… so when RVP left us, I was devastated & when he’d score against us, was like a knife through my ❤😢
    The same with Sanchez, I adored him, so when he became all moody & threw his dummy out of the pram and jumped ship, I was so gutted.. to OT of all places! To this day, the mere mention of either of these 2, makes my blood boil 😡

  3. Sue says:

    Saka scored again for the U23’s last night.. I can’t wait to see him in the first team!
    Well done boys & Freddie 👏

  4. chas says:

  5. chas says:

    Thanks. GN5.

    I went from loving Frank to detesting him overnight.
    It’s so weird how football can do that.

  6. RA says:

    Morning lovely people,

    A really interesting Post, GN5, and I too like to know a bit more about previous players, those who left on good terms with the fans, and even those who bailed in an unpleasant way.

    Thank you for that, and also to you Chas for the photo of the Ant-Man before he accosted Frank! 😁

  7. RA says:

    You are spot on, Sue, it is unlikely that we will spend money on replacements for first team players, so it is way beyond time that we started to blood some of our very promising youngsters, Nelson, Sakho etc as LBG also said yesterday.

  8. Sue says:

    Hi there, RA.. they might even teach some of the first team a thing or two… like Elneny – how not to stand there like a Madame Tussauds waxwork.. and show Iwobi how to find the back of the net! Ooh a bit harsh maybe… 😜😄

  9. RA says:

    It cannot be denied that ‘Pool have gone up a level this year, and they deserve to be up there battling with Citeh, but the amount adoration showered on them – particularly by TV presenters, who never previously declared they were fans – makes the skin crawl.

    Citeh despite being the best team in the UK for some time have never had that, and the only other team (and its manager) who had such nauseating praise and gloating was Manure, and old Red Nose.


    OK, I am just jealous – I admit it.

  10. RA says:

    Nope, Sue, that sounds just right.

    Youngsters want to make it to the top of their professional careers, and will not just give up and stand around scratching their asses, as their elders in the first team squad have done, on and off, for this whole season – and other seasons too, in truth.

    See you and t’others later. 😁

  11. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All. Thank you Gn5. Interesting about the dislike Boston had for Frank.

    LB. I felt exactly the same. Hero to Zero in a moment. At least Liam had the decency to go abroad.

    RA. I recall Arsenal enjoying the admiration of the media for a number of years leading up to the Invincibles. We deserved the plaudits, as do L’pool who have been fantastic this season. There is a chance they could be runners-up having lost just once this season!

  12. Sue says:

    RA hear hear!! I’m so fed up with all the love oozing from everyone as far as Liverpool & Klopp are concerned! I’m surrounded by Liverpool fans, whether it’s at work, family, socialising, even at darts – it really is relentless… you’d think no one had ever scored a goal before, or won a game or kept a clean sheet! They have all the luck, I even think Sky & Mike Riley etc are right behind them and want them to win, so they can take the limelight from their darling’s (Man United) closest rivals (City)

  13. Big Raddy says:

    We should never have allowed Gnabry to leave.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    BR, third paragraph at 8.50.. all agreed. We used to get a lot of praise by the media, and rightly so. Furthermore, I lived and worked almost in all areas of the UK but have never seen more respect for Arsenal – style of play and values – as in Merseyside. They have style there when it comes to appreciating good football and have done it the natural way (spending within their means) rather than the spend-spend-spend-again way of the Manc Oilers and other Mancs. Here is hoping Pool will win the league rather than the Oilers.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GN5 for an interesting post about a guy I have never seen play (including when he was at Ajax for whom he only played three games). I get totally why some on AA have a dislike of him given his midcareer move up-north. When Figo left Barcelona for RM and then returned for his first El Classico dressed in white, at Camp Nou there was a banner that read (in Spanish) something like: “We Hate you so much, because we Loved you so much”. Players don’t often realise how much they are nestled in the hearts of the fans and what a hole it leaves when they turn their backs on them.

  16. LBG says:

    Thanks GN5 for an opportunity to relive the era of the Arsenal Irish boys, and to Chas for the video of my favourite FACup Final at the old Wembley. (Two of those Irish boys get into my all time best Arsenal team witnessed live!)
    I never felt quite as resentful of Frank’s move to Manure as some, (perhaps because they were still not a very good side), and certainly not as much as RVP and Sanchez’s moves.
    Frank was another player from the 70’s with a massive heart as well as talent. Where has all the heart gone? Interesting to see Terry Neill and Don Howe sitting on the Arsenal bench. Never thought much of Neill, but Don Howe was a master craftsman.

  17. GunnerN5 says:

    Good morning,

    Nice to see that it revived some old memories, some better than others.

    Moving from Arsenal to Man U dooms players to reside in the sin bin.

  18. chas says:

    Arsenal u18s have just beaten Fulham with three late-ish goals in the last game of the season meaning that the spuds who kicked off 30 minutes later cannot overtake them. 🙂

  19. LB says:

    Just when you feel you are loosing all hope spuds are there to lift the spirits. COYS

  20. LB says:

    It made me chuckle to write COYS, not something I do often, I had so little hope for this weekend.

  21. chas says:

    Wow – nice celebration. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  22. chas says:

  23. Sue says:

    Ooh la la thank you Michail Antonio 😋

  24. chas says:

  25. Sue says:

    Haha I bet Lineker’s crying into his packet of walker’s crisps right now 😄

  26. allezkev says:

    I remember seeing Frank score 4 goals in the Combination, Liam got the other 2 in a 6-0 victory vs Swansea, I think he got his Division One debut after that. I thought at his peak that he was the most complete centre forward in England and I never forgave him for deserting us.
    I saw his debut vs Stoke, where he seemed very raw but I liked his energy and never say die attitude. Frank and Alan Sunderland made quite a combo, great link up play like the 5-0 at the Lane…
    My fondest memory was his header at the City Ground, Nottingham when we knocked Forest out of the FACup, the away end was bedlam, it was brilliant…

    Great work again GN5 and thanks for the Leicester Fosse report.
    Back in the days when the North Bank was the Laundry End…

  27. chas says:

    Highbury 1929 for an FA Cup semi with the Laundry chimney visible top left.

  28. Big Raddy says:

    6.04. What a wonderful pic.

    So WHU beat AFC, MU, and Spurs plys drew with L’pool and Chelsea yet remain an absolute shower of ….

  29. LBG says:

    Your photo got me thinking of the Stephen’s Ink factory that Dad always mentioned. Built in 1892 in Gillespie road and also famous for its tower originally emblazoned with the name, it was knocked down in the 60s apparently.

  30. Big Raddy says:

    I didn’t know Stephens ink was based in Highbury. No wonder it was such high quality, so much better than Quink.

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    1892 Manufacturing moves to the new purpose-built factory at Gillespie Road, Highbury, N5,close to Arsenal football ground and adjacent to Arsenal Underground station. The factory
    is designed by Henry Stephens’ son Michael and has an illuminated chimney bearing the name STEPHENS

  32. chas says:

  33. chas says:

  34. Sue says:

    What was their excuse for going down like that? The wind??
    Really irritates me…actually Dele Alli really irritates me 😄

  35. VP says:

    If Arsenal women beat Brighton today they are crowned champions with a game in hand

  36. chas says:

  37. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Exciting afternoon in prospect

  38. chas says:

  39. Sue says:

    What a super Sunday this could turn out to be (or not 😀)
    Good luck to the women 🤞
    Let’s hope the men get back to winning ways.. I wonder if they’re feeling as nervous as I am right now! COYG

  40. Sue says:

    Jamie Vardy has scored 6 goals in his last 7 games against us!! He’s only scored more V Liverpool
    We’ll have a job keeping him quiet!
    On a plus – no green kit, we’ll be wearing our lush red kit 😊
    On a downer – Michael Oliver is refereeing 😫

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Oh dear, Mr Oliver. 😦

    We need VAR

  42. Sue says:

    BR – yes VAR (until you see Mike Dean & Jon Moss sat there looking at the screen 😂😂)

    In all seriousness, I’ll be gobsmacked if Leicester aren’t awarded a penalty later!

  43. RA says:

    Good Morning, Pimples People, 🤪

    Enjoyed all the comments I have now caught up on.

    I particularly like reading and seeing photos of old but once important buildings, thanks to those who contributed, and Chas for the pics.

  44. Big Raddy says:

    BTW that is a fine photo of Ant and Frank

    There is a New Post

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