Arsenal’s Century Club – Jimmy Brain

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. Jimmy Brain sits at number 3.

Well here – we are we have now reached the top 3 in Arsenal’s Century Club.

James (Jimmy) Brain was born in Bristol on 11th September 1900. He played in local football in Wales before joining Arsenal at the age of 23 in August 1923. He did not make his league debut until the following season he played against Tottenham Hotspur on 25th October 1924 and scored the only goal of the game (what a way to make yourself known to Arsenal fans). During the 1924-25 season he scored 14 goals in 31 games, including a hat-trick against Burnley and four in a game against Leeds United.

Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton was sacked at the end of the 1924-25 season and Herbert Chapman, the manager of Huddersfield Town, was persuaded to join Arsenal.

The first man that Herbert Chapman signed was Charlie Buchan, who had scored 209 goals in 380 games for Sunderland. Chapman also purchased Herbert Roberts, Joe Hume and Cliff Bastin. In the 1925-26 season Arsenal finished in second-place to Huddersfield Town. The top scorer was Jimmy Brain with 37 goals in 47 games. This included four hat-tricks against Everton (2), Cardiff City and Bury.

Meeting the King at the 1927 FA Cup Final

The Arsenal chairman, Henry Norris did not allow Chapman to buy new players to strengthen his team and in the 1926-27 season Arsenal finished in 11th position. Brain scored 34 goals in 44 games that season which included a hat-trick against Cardiff City and scored four against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. In the 1927-28 season Brain scored 29 goals in 44 games. This included two hat-tricks against Derby County and Liverpool. Arsenal finished 9th in 1928-29 and Jimmy scored 22 goals in 42 games.

The following is from an F.A. Cup 5th Round Replay, played at Highbury on 24 February 1926. The first Arsenal goal is seen at 00:38 – the scorer is Jimmy Brain. The old East Stand with A-R-S-E-N-A-L spelt out on it is a sight to behold. Love the hat waving after a goal is scored. (full screen is top right)

Herbert Chapman gradually adapted the “WM” formation that had originally been suggested by Charlie Buchan. Chapman used his full-backs to mark the wingers (that job had previously been done by the wing-halves). He also developed what became known as the counter-attacking game. This relied on the passing ability of Alex James and goal scoring forwards like Jimmy Brain, David Jack, Joe Hume, Cliff Bastin, and Jack Lambert. Chapman also built up a good defence that included players such as Bob John, Eddie Hapgood, Herbert Roberts, Alf Baker, Tom Parker and George Male.

Jimmy’s form dropped off in 1929-30, and he competed for his position with Jack Lambert, David Jack and Dave Halliday, meaning he only played six league matches in that season. He missed the Gunners’ 1930 Cup final win over Huddersfield Town; David Jack and Jack Lambert led the line that day. However, the following season, 1930-31, Jimmy finally won a medal as Arsenal won their first ever First Division Championship with a record 66 points. The Gunners only lost four games that season. Jack Lambert was top-scorer with 38 goals. Brain scored 4 goals in 18 games and therefore qualified for a league championship medal. His final appearance in an Arsenal shirt was a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on 21 March 1931.

Crossing the North London divide between Arsenal and Tottenham can be one of the most inflammatory actions in English football. Sol Campbell, Emmanuel Adebayor, and William Gallas have all done it in recent times, all feeling the wrath of both sides supporters. But who was the first to do it?

The man with this dubious badge of honour is none other than Jimmy Brain. In September 1931 Brain was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur. Over the next three years he scored 10 goals in 45 games.

He played his final years out at Swansea Town and Bristol City. After retiring as a player, he managed first King’s Lynn and then Cheltenham Town from 1939 until 1948, after which he retired completely from football.

click image to see enlarged

In total, he scored 140 goals in 232 appearances for Arsenal, making him the Gunners’ joint-fifth top scorer of all time. However, he never played for England; he managed to secure a trial for the national team but was never actually selected.

Jimmy Brain and Jack Lambert share the record of each scoring 12 hat tricks for Arsenal.

Getty Images

He scored his 100th goal against Sheffield United on January 7th, 1928.

He died in 1971, at the age of 71.



35 Responses to Arsenal’s Century Club – Jimmy Brain

  1. chas says:

    Thanks, GN5

    What a great player!
    It looks like Herbert C got the best out of him.

  2. Sue says:

    Wow, he certainly was prolific!! 12 hat tricks! 👏
    He scored his 100th goal on my Birthday!

    GN5.. you & chas certainly do put together some great articles!
    The suspense is killing me… 2 to go & we haven’t seen my fav player yet….

  3. Sue says:

    Just watched the contenders for GOTS on the Arsenal website… all brilliant goals – was hard to choose one.. in the end, I went with Aubameyang v the spuds.. I will never tire of seeing that goal! Having said that, I don’t think I’ll tire of seeing the others either!!

  4. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. Thank you.

    Imagine having he choice of Jack, Lambert and Brain. No wonder AFC were so powerful during the ’30’s.

    Strange he started his career so late, 23 y.o. before he played in England. And two hatricks against Everton in a season 😀

    Not so impressed that he crossed the North London divide, perhaps this is why he doesn’t get a mention in AFC’s top 100 players.

  5. RA says:

    Another great Post nestles in the back of the blog net — super stuff, GN5.

    I had never heard of Jimmy Brain but he was quite something.

    Looking at the photo the boy Chas has included, Jimmy sitting in the chair looked as if it was taken not too long ago, but the faint image of the car in the background told the real story.

    Again, thank you both.

  6. RA says:


    I agree that the transfer to Spurs is not what we want to see, but in those days I doubt the players had much, if any, choice if they wanted to earn a living.

  7. RA says:

    It goes to show, that what was true in the past about player transfers is critically important in the current era.

    Chapman was probably the equal in talent to Arsene Wenger, and he masterminded a great era for Arsenal — but you cannot make silk out of a sow’s ear — and he made sure to buy some brilliant players.

    You reading this Sanhlehi?

  8. RA says:

    The choice of ‘the best goal’ is very subjective, so there is no ‘right or wrong’ but the goal that come3s easily to my mind was the one Thierry scored against the ‘Pool attacking the North Bank end, when he dribbled thru the whole ‘Pool team it seemed to score as calmly and beautifully as you like.

    Fabuloso. 😃

  9. Sue says:

    Now who’s hogging the thread 😂

  10. Sue says:

    Has the world gone mad? (Well, yes with RA in it, it’s bound to be!) But Everton want 100m for Richarlison!! WTH!!!
    Very interesting reading all the rumours.. Fekir will leave Lyon.. not saying we’ll go for him, but I really like him!
    Looks like City may sell Sane, I’d take him in a heartbeat!
    Oh and have I mentioned I’d also love Zaha 😂
    Yes, I’ll keep dreaming……

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GN5 for doing a great research job on getting all these done. I must admit it is a bit of an anti-climax to have only golden oldies in the top ten thus far. It is not easy to connect for a Gooner with just 24 years of Arsenal support. But you write beautiful about the club’s former heroes and it should get a wider audience than it seems to be getting.

    Nice to see the boys on the plane to Baku but an absolute disgrace that Mkhi was not able to join them.

  12. LBG says:

    Beth Mead could teach have the mens team how to cross a ball!!

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning AAers,

    Chas you have e great knack of finding the appropriate videos, having watched Pathe as a kid it brings back hidden memories.

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning All

    Chas you have e great knack of finding the appropriate videos, having watched Pathe as a kid it brings back hidden memories.

  15. GunnerN5 says:

    Word press is at it again – a post disappears and then reappears?

  16. GunnerN5 says:


    The AA audience has shrunk down to just a few of us, it’s a shame as this was/is one of the best Arsenal blogs. Maybe it’s simply that blogging is going the way of the Dodo bird – who knows?

    Lets hope we have a more successful team next season then maybe the bloggers will increase.

    Chas has said that there are many viewing of AA that simply never post.

  17. Sue says:

    Hi GN5.. I hope you don’t mind me commenting on your post to TA.. I don’t think blogging will die out.. I’ve been writing (or waffling!) for just over 2 years now (mainly on Just Arsenal) after having read many blogs for a while, before I took the plunge & posted my first comment!
    Without sounding disrespectful, it is different on here, only compared to what I’ve been used to though.. but it works.. I really do like it on here.. especially the topics covered, I’ve learned a lot about our past (thank you!) which I never would have on other sites.. it has seemed a little quiet recently, but I’m sure that’s just down to the league finishing! 13 days without Arsenal and I’m pining!!! I’m sure things will pick up, as you and everyone else, made me feel really welcome when I first posted (thank you, again!)
    Keep up the good work!

  18. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Sue,

    You are welcome to comment on any AA posts.

    Cross dialogue and varying opinions are a benefit to all of us bloggers.

    If you click on “about AA” on the header line then you can find out a little about the origins of AA.

    You add a pleasant air to the blog and you also have a good sense of humour.

    Our friend RA is a fantastic writer, his command of the English language puts most of us (me included) to shame.

    Now that I’m retired I have more time to create posts than most bloogers who have busy lives.

  19. John Mathews legend says:

    Excellent work as per usual GN5.
    My Arsenal memories go back to 69/70, so it’s always interesting to learn more about our glorious (and sometimes less glorious) past and the wonderful players we had.

  20. Sue says:

    No number 2 today?

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi GN5

    I can see where you are coming from and blogging is a bit in decline indeed. But AA have a strong core and some very fine blog writers (you included). Key is to remain tolerant and to try and resolve on line arguments as much as possible. The written word can sting a lot more than the spoken one, when we can hear intonations and see facial expressions and understand better what actually is being ‘said’. Getting some of the big bloggers back would surely revitalise the blog.

    It also does not help that Arsenal are in transition (and I predict it will continue to do so for the next few years) and we are struggling to recognise our Arsenal in the football on display and the way the club is now managed and PRed. The results/achievements are OK but those recent PL defeats have been hard for us, and the football we play is difficult to warm to. So I reckon it is just a lot more quiet on the blogs (mine included) but this surely will change again once we are on a roll again. Beating the Chavs this week and buying a couple of fine players to add to our strong base of quality players, could do the trick! Come on The Arsenal! 🙂

  22. Sue says:

    TA.. you have a blog? Let me guess what it’s called 🤔😂
    I don’t think all blogs are quiet, some have a large following, others not so large.. when I first started out, i thought JA was the only site out there 😂 then came across Arseblog & a few others.. then recently came across AA.. but like you say – transition, no PL etc it all adds up

  23. Sue says:

    Morning GN5..thank you for your reply last night, I checked out “About AA” … 👍
    Well, I look forward to whatever articles you come up with next! Me… on the other hand, wouldn’t dare write one, as everyone would be bored to tears after about a minute of me waffling on about a semi naked Kolasinac 😂😂😂

  24. Sue says:

    30 years ago today.. 89!! That was 2 years before I became a gooner.. but have the DVD.. and what a superb watch that was! It made me cry (happy tears, of course!) Although Ian Wright has that effect on me, and he was only giving his take on it!!

  25. Sue says:

    Well, well, well.. Barcelona have carried on their sparkling, end of season form, by losing the CDR to Valencia (yes the same Valencia, we spanked (hard) the other week) fair enough they were without Suarez (he was at the dentist) but jeez it was at home!! Just goes to show, even the greatest teams lose (unexpectedly!)
    So they’ve now decided to sell Messi…. now that was a joke!! 😂😂

  26. Sue says:

    chas… every morning I’m up with the lark.. checking out everything Arsenal… waiting for the next article on here to drop…. being so close to finding out who’s number 1 in the century club, I’m rather excited! Needless to say – I’m still waiting 😂 and I’m a little disappointed 😞 so I’ve had a great idea – the only way to cheer me up, would be another picture of that Bosnian beast in tight sleeves (or no sleeves, I’m not fussy!) 🙏😄 haha!!

  27. fred1266 says:

    Arsenal boss Unai Emery admits some of his players were not particularly interested in playing in the Europa League in the early part of the season.

    The Gunners will face Chelsea in Baku next Wednesday for the chance to end Emery’s first season in charge with a trophy and secure a return to the Champions League.

    Arsenal, who finished fifth in the Premier League, have reserved most of their best performances for Europe this season, with particularly impressive wins over Napoli and Valencia in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

    But Emery, a three-time winner of the trophy with Sevilla, says it took time to convince certain members of his squad to give the competition as much importance as the league.

    “My titles in this competition are no guarantee [of success],” he said. “Each match, each year is different.

    “The first idea was to transmit to the players this season to go for every competition. Now we are in the Europa League. We needed to feel this competition was an important competition.

    “When we started playing in the first matches, some players preferred to play Premier League. Okay. I explained then to every player that we needed the focus on every competition.

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    “I am going to decide when you are going to rest or not. I don’t want you to think you might not play in the early rounds and yet when we arrive at the semi-final or the final you say to me: I am here to play. No. I want you here, I want you ready to play, and you will be ready to play throughout.

    “Of course, some injuries can stop you playing. But the focus all the season is in this competition with a big focus and a big ambition to do something important. And to feel this competition like we want it.”

    While Emery’s future appears secure regardless of Wednesday’s result, the same cannot be said for opposite number Maurizio Sarri.

    Reaching the Europa League and EFL Cup finals, as well as finishing third in the league, has not been enough for the Italian to ward off criticism from some fans for his inflexible possession-based approach.

    There are growing reports that Sarri could be tempted back to his homeland to take the Juventus job, with Massimiliano Allegri to leave after the Serie A season concludes on Sunday.

    “Our life, the life of a coach, is difficult and tough for us,” Emery said. “I appreciate Sarri a lot. He is a very good coach. When you are watching one of Chelsea’s matches you recognise him as the coach.

    “You can see Sarri’s identity. He created that at Napoli before here. This year they finished third in the Premier League and they are in this final. I see him and Chelsea as a good team, a good coach, a good season, a good way of playing.

    “I learned from watching Sarri in Napoli and now Chelsea.”

  28. Sue says:

    Fred… Dat guy Welbz made the flight… we may see him in Arsenal colours just one last time!!

  29. fred1266 says:

  30. GunnerN5 says:

    Good morning all,

    TA, AA has many fine bloggers and long may it last.

    You are correct in stating the difficulty of interpreting the intent behind the written word and AA has had many such events and silly misunderstandings.

  31. fred1266 says:

    sure Sue we will see him collecting a medal

  32. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Sue, I’ve sent the last two articles in the Century Club series to Chas, he will post them after he has added his touch of magic.

  33. Big Raddy says:


    I am sorry but today’s No.2 will be posted now. Unfortunately I have had technical problems

    There is a New Post

  34. Sue says:

    Ok, thanks GN5..

    Just watching Charlton V Sunderland.. Lee Bowyer looks old now.. with how it’s started, he’ll look even older by the end of it! What a howler!!

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