Charlie Buchan

Charlie Buchan

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Charles (Charlie) Buchan was born in Plumstead on 22nd September 1891. His father, who originally came from Aberdeen, was a sergeant in the Highland regiment but had moved to London to become a blacksmith.

Buchan took a keen interest in football and was a fan of local side, Woolwich Arsenal. He watched the players train but could not afford to pay the entrance fee to see games. Buchan points out in his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football: "As my pocket-money was the princely sum of 1d, I could not pay the 3d admission into the ground. I waited outside, listening to the roars and cheers of the crowd, until about ten minutes before the end when the big, wide gates were thrown open to allow the crowd to trek out."

His favourite players at the time were Jimmy Ashcroft, Bobby Templeton, Tim Coleman, Percy Sands, Jimmy Sharp, Charlie Satterthwaite and Roderick McEachrane. As Buchan later pointed out: "They were the stars upon whom I tried to model my style."

When he was aged 17 years old Buchan was approached by Arsenal and asked to play for the reserves against Croydon Common. Arsenal won 3-1 and Buchan scored one of the goals. Buchan played in three more games and trained twice a week with the team. However, when he provided a bill of 11 shillings for his travel costs, the club refused to reimburse him. As a result, Buchan refused to play anymore games for the club.

For the rest of the 1909-10 season Buchan played for Northfleet in the Kent League. Football scouts soon became aware of Buchan's abilities and the First Division side Bury offered him wages of £3 a week. Sir Henry Norris, the chairman of Fulham, told Buchan: "We understand you want to be a teacher. we will find you a job where you can continue your training and pay you thirty shillings a week to sign professional forms for Fulham." Buchan asked for £2 a week but this was rejected.

Buchan eventually accepted an offer from Leyton, a club that played in the Southern League. He was paid £3 a week and allowed to continue his studies in order to qualify as a teacher. His first game was against Plymouth Argyle in September 1910. A great influence on Buchan was Kenneth Hunt, who had previously played for Oxford University and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Buchan had a good first season and soon the big clubs were trying to buy him. Leyton turned down an offer of £800 from Chelsea. However, in March 1911, Sunderland paid a transfer fee of £1,200 for Buchan. This beat the £1,000 paid by Middlesbrough for Alf Common in 1905.

In his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football, Buchan recalls how defenders tried to intimidate him in those early Football League games. In his third game for the club, against Notts County, Buchan faced Jack Montgomery, a burly left-back. In the first few minutes of the game, Buchan raced past him before passing to a teammate. Montgomery, warned him in a low voice: "Don't do that again, son." When Buchan tried the same trick later, Montgomery hit him with a shoulder charge of such force that he finished up flat on his back only a yard from the fencing surrounding the pitch. As he crept back on to the field, Montgomery went over to Buchan and said: "I told you not to do it again."

The Sunderland fans did not immediately take to Buchan and he suffered a great deal of barracking from the Roker Park crowd. Buchan asked to be dropped from the side but Bob Kyle, the manager, refused. After one game in November, 1911, Buchan told Kyle: "I'll never kick another ball for Sunderland."

Kyle persuaded Buchan to play one more game for the club. He agreed and scored two goals in the 3-1 victory. Buchan recalled that this was the turning point and never again got "the bird" from the crowd.

Buchan gradually developed a very good partnership with George Holley, Sunderland's leading goalscorer. Buchan later argued that in a game against Bradford City, Holley performance was the best he ever saw by an inside-forward. "He scored a magnificent hat-trick, running nearly half the length of the field each time and coolly dribbling the ball round goalkeeper Jock Ewart before placing it in the net."

George Holley also supplied Buchan with the passes for a large percentage of the goals he scored for Sunderland. In one game he scored five goals against Kenneth Campbell, the Scottish international goalkeeper, who at the time played for Liverpool. "Four of them I just touched into the net. Holley had beaten the defence and even drawn Campbell out of position before giving me the goals on a plate."

At the beginning of the 1912-13 season Bob Kyle paid £3,000 for two defenders, Charlie Gladwin and Joe Butler. This was a large sum of money. At the time, the record transfer fee was the £1,800 paid by Blackburn Rovers to West Ham United for prolific goalscorer Danny Shea.

Kyle also purchased James Richardson from Huddersfield Town to play alongside Buchan, George Holley, Henry Martin and Jackie Mordue, in the forward line. The defence was made up of Joe Butler in goal, Charlie Gladwin and Albert Milton, full backs, with Frank Cuggy, Charlie Thomson and Harry Low playing in the half-back line.

The season started badly and by mid-October Sunderland was bottom of the First Division table with only two points in seven games. However, the new players gradually integrated into the side and the club moved up the table by winning the next five games. By the end of December 1912 Sunderland was challenging for the title with Buchan, George Holley and Jackie Mordue, all having scored 12 goals each. However, according to Buchan it was a defender, Charlie Gladwin, that was the real reason why Sunderland played so well. "He stabilized the defence and gave the wing half-backs Frank Cuggy and Harry Low the confidence to go upfield and join in attacking movements. Sunderland became a first-class team from the moment he joined the side."

January 1913 saw Sunderland beat Arsenal (4-1), Tottenham Hotspur (2-1), Chelsea (4-0), Middlesbrough (2-0) and Derby County (3-0). It was now clear that only Aston Villa could deprive Sunderland of the First Division championship.

Sunderland also had a good FA Cup run. On the way to the final Sunderland beat Manchester City (2-0), Swindon Town (4-2), Newcastle United (3-0) and Burnley (3-2). The final was played in front of 120,000 at Crystal Palace against Aston Villa, their rivals for the league championship. Early in the game, Clem Stephenson told Buchan that the previous night he had dreamt that Villa won the game 1-0 with Tommy Barber scoring the only goal with a header.

The game included a running battle between Charlie Thomson, the Sunderland centre-half and Harry Hampton, Aston Villa's tough centre-forward. Hampton had a reputation for being rough on goalkeepers. One local commentator reported that: "Thomson was the centre of one of the main talking points of the game after a thrilling duel with the Villa forward Hampton. He had scored for England against Thomson's Scotland by charging the keeper over the line. Charlie was determined this was not going to happen during the Cup Final, so early on he laid Hampton out to let him know who was boss!"

Thomson decided to protect his goalkeeper, Joe Butler, by making a heavy challenge on Hampton early on the game. A journalist reported: "Thomson had great difficulty in holding the nippy Villa inside forwards and fouled Hampton so badly that the centre forward was prostrate for several minutes. Later in the game Hampton viciously retaliated by kicking Thomson when he was on the ground and it was regrettable that the game was marred by such unseemly incidents."

In his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football, Buchan recorded: "Thomson and Hampton soon got at loggerheads and rather overstepped the mark in one particular episode. Though neither was sent off the field, they each received a month's suspension." The referee, Albert Adams, was also banned for a month for failing to maintain order. Adams was never asked again to officiate in another professional football game.

Just before the end of the first-half, Clem Stephenson was brought down in the 18-yard box by Charlie Gladwin. However, Charlie Wallace, dragged his penalty shot wide of the post.

Soon after the interval Harry Hampton had a goal disallowed for offside. This was followed by Sam Hardy, the Aston Villa goalkeeper being injured after a clash with Henry Martin and for a time Sunderland played against ten men. Although they hit the upright twice and had one shot cleared off the line, they could not score against Jim Harrop, the Villa centre-half, who had replaced Hardy as goalkeeper.

With 15 minutes remaining Charlie Wallace took a corner-kick. He scuffed the ball and it came into the box at waist height. With the Sunderland defence expecting a high-ball, Tommy Barber was able to ghost in from midfield and head it into the net. Stephenson's dream had come true.

Four days later Sunderland played Aston Villa in the league. Sunderland was only two points in front of their rivals with only three games to go, they had to avoid defeat in order to make sure they won the First Division championship. Over 70,000 watched Harold Halse score the opening goal. However, Sunderland fought back and Walter Tinsley converted a pass from Henry Martin to earn a 1-1 draw.

Sunderland won their last two matches against Bolton Wanderers (4-1) and Bradford City (1-0) to win the title by four points from Aston Villa. Charlie Buchan finished as the club's top scorer with an impressive 32 goals in 46 games.

Buchan won his first international cap for England against Ireland on 15th February, 1913. The England team that day also included Bob Crompton, Frank Cuggy, George Elliott, Jackie Mordue, Joe Smith and George Wall. Buchan scored in the 10th minute but Ireland eventually won the game 2-1. After the game Buchan got involved in a argument with a member of the F.A. Selection committee. As a result he was dropped from the team.

On the outbreak of the First World War Buchan joined the Grenadier Guards. In 1916 he was sent to the Western Front and saw action at the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele. Buchan was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant and in 1918 he attended the Officers' Cadet School at Catterick.

After the war Buchan returned to his teaching job at Cowan Terrace School in Sunderland. However, in his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football, Buchan admitted that he was finding that "teaching and playing professional did not mix... by the time Friday came round I could hardly talk to the class... I could not concentrate on both at the same time." At the end of the 1919-20 season he gave up teaching and opened a sports outfitters business in Blandford Street, near the south end of Sunderland Railway Station.

Buchan won his second international cap for England on 15th March, 1920. The England team against Wales that day also included Sam Hardy, George Elliott, Frank Barson and Joe Smith. Buchan scored in the 7th minute but Wales eventually won the game 2-1.

Buchan was a member of the committee that ran Association Footballers' Union (AFU). After the war professional footballers received a maximum weekly wage of £10. In 1920 the Football League Management Committee proposed a reduction to £9 per week maximum. Buchan was one of those who called for the AFU to resort to strike action. However, large numbers of players resigned from the union and the Football League was able to impose the £9 maximum wage. The following year it was reduced to £8 for a 37 weeks playing season and £6 for the 15 weeks close season.

Sunderland failed to recapture its pre-war form. By the time the Football League resumed, several of its best players were past their best. In both the 1920-21 and 1921-22 seasons the club finished in 12th place.

Bob Kyle completely rebuilt the playing squad and by the 1922-23 season Buchan was the only survivor of the Sunderland team that won the Football League title in the 1912-13 season. Sunderland had a much better season and finished in second place, six points behind Liverpool. Buchan scored 30 goals that made him the top scorer in the whole of the First Division.

Buchan played his last international game for England on 12th April 1924. The game against Scotland ended in a 1-1 draw. He had managed to score four goals in six games but the First World War and his conflict with those in authority severely restricted his international appearances.

In May 1925 Herbert Chapman visited Charlie Buchan in his sports outfitters shop. He asked him if he was willing to be transferred to Arsenal. Buchan, who had scored 209 goals in 380 games for Sunderland, agreed and after two months of negotiations, he joined the London club. Bob Kyle explained to Buchan the complex arrangements of the deal: "We pay Sunderland cash down £2,000, and then we hand over £100 to them for every goal you score during your first season with Arsenal."

At that time most teams played in the 2-3-5 formation. This system dominated football until 1925 when the Football Association decided to change the offside rule. The change reduced the number of opposition players that an attacker needed between himself and the goal-line from three to two.

Charlie Buchan suggested to Herbert Chapman, that the team should exploit this change in the law to create a new playing formation. At that time the centre-half played a much more attacking role. Buchan argued that the club should now have a more defence-minded player in that position and that he, rather than the two full-backs, should take responsibility for the offside trap. The full-backs played just in front of the centre-half whereas one of the inside-forwards should act as a link between attack and defence. The formation was therefore changed from 2-3-5 to 3-3-4. This also became known as the "WM" formation.

Herbert Roberts was selected to play the centre-half role and the veteran Andy Neil was the link man in the system. Later, Alex James successfully took over Neil's role.

That season Arsenal finished in second-place to Chapman's old club, Huddersfield Town. Buchan scored 21 goals that season which brought the amount paid by Arsenal to Sunderland to £4,100.

Henry Norris refused to allow Herbert Chapman to spend too much money to strengthen his team and in the 1926-27 season Arsenal finished in 11th position. However, they did enjoy a good run in the FA Cup. They beat Port Vale (0-1), Liverpool (2-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0) and Southampton (2-1) to reach the final at Wembley against Cardiff City.

With 17 minutes to go, Hughie Ferguson hit a shot at the Arsenal goal that was partly blocked by Tom Parker. As the goalkeeper, Dan Lewis, later explained: "I got down to it and stopped it. I can usually pick up a ball with one hand, but as I was laying over the ball. I had to use both hands to pick it up, and already a Cardiff forward was rushing down on me. The ball was very greasy. When it touched Parker it had evidently acquired a tremendous spin, and for a second it must have been spinning beneath me. At my first touch it shot away over my arm."

Ernie Curtis, Cardiff's left-winger, later commented: "I was in line with the edge of the penalty area on the right when Hughie Ferguson hit the shot which Arsenal's goalie had crouched down for a little early. The ball spun as it travelled towards him, having taken a slight deflection so he was now slightly out of line with it. Len Davies was following the shot in and I think Dan must have had one eye on him. The result was that he didn't take it cleanly and it squirmed under him and over the line. Len jumped over him and into the net, but never actually touched it."

In the words of Charlie Buchan: "He (Lewis) gathered the ball in his arms. As he rose, his knee hit the ball and sent it out of his grasp. In trying to retrieve it, Lewis only knocked it further towards the goal. The ball, with Len Davies following up, trickled slowly but inexorably over the goal-line with hardly enough strength to reach the net."

Soon afterwards, Arsenal had a great chance to draw level. As Charlie Buchan later explained: "Outside-left Sid Hoar sent across a long, high centre. Tom Farquharson, Cardiff goalkeeper, rushed out to meet the danger. The ball dropped just beside the penalty spot and bounced high above his outstretched fingers. Jimmy Brain and I rushed forward together to head the ball into the empty goal. At the last moment Jimmy left it to me. I unfortunately left it to him. Between us, we missed the golden opportunity of the game." Arsenal had no more chances after that and therefore Cardiff City won the game 1-0.

After the game Dan Lewis was so upset that his mistake had cost Arsenal the FA Cup that he threw away his loser's medal. It was retrieved by Bob John who suggested that the team would win him a winning medal the following season. Herbert Chapman believed that Lewis was the best goalkeeper at the club and he retained his place in the team the following season.

Arsenal had no more chances after that and therefore Cardiff City won the game 1-0. Buchan was bitterly disappointed as he was now approaching his 36th birthday and he knew it was his last chance to win a cup-winners medal. Buchan, who had scored 49 goals in 102 games for Arsenal decided to retire from playing professional football at the end of the season.

Buchan was offered a job writing about football for the Daily Chronicle. He also made radio broadcasts for the BBC. In 1947 he helped establish the Football Writers' Association (FWA). One of the FWA's first decisions was to introduce an annual Footballer of the Year Award, decided by a vote amongst FWW members. The first winner, in 1948, was Stanley Matthews.

In September 1951 he launched the highly successful Charles Buchan's Football Monthly. He published his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football in 1955.

Charlie Buchan died on 25th June 1960 while on holiday in Monte Carlo.

Always I carried some sort of a ball in my pocket. It did not stay there long. I used to run along the road, using the pavement edge as a colleague.

I fear that in these days of heavy traffic, it would be impossible to carry out this sort of practice. But I thought nothing of it. I became so adept at pushing the ball against the pavement and taking the rebound that it did not impede my rate of progress.

When I first played for the Polytechnic, my position was left half-back. In one game I happened to score five goals. So I was immediately put into the forward line where I remained for the rest of my playing days.

Then I had ambitions of becoming a centre-half, but I was too small for the position. Though I was big enough in after years, nobody seemed to fancy me as a pivot. At any rate, I never played in the position.

Playing regularly for the school team was not enough to satisfy my appetite for the game. Every Saturday afternoon I went down to the Manor Field to see what I could of Arsenal's League and reserve sides.

As my weekly pocket-money was the princely sum of id, I could not pay the 3d admission into the ground. I waited outside, listening to the roars and cheers of the crowd, until about ten minutes before the end when the big, wide gates were thrown open to allow the crowd to trek out.

In I rushed with other soccer-crazy boys to see the finish of the game. It was enough to get a glimpse of my heroes and to watch the way they played the game.

Among my favourites then were Bobby Templeton, Scottish international wing forward; big, burly Charlie Satterthwaite, an inside-left with a cannon-ball shot; Tim Coleman, a born humorist and inside-right whom, eventually, I succeeded at Sunderland; Percy Sands, the local schoolmaster centre-half; Roddy McEachrane, a consistently good left half-back and Jimmy Sharp, the youthful looking full-back.

They were the stars upon whom I tried to model my style. And there was no greater pleasure for me than to go, during the training month of August, and in the school holidays, to watch them kicking-in and sometimes retrieve the ball when it went behind the goal.

During the summer months, I stayed at work. Then I received notice to report for training at Osborne Road the day after August Bank Holiday. In those days, the season opened on the first Saturday in September, so the whole of August could be devoted to strenuous training. It also ended on the last Saturday in April.

Since then the season has been extended and takes in the last week in August and the first week in May. I think this is one of the mistakes made by the ruling bodies. League football in cricket weather and on bone-hard grounds is neither good for the player nor for the standard of play. It takes too much out of the player, physically and mentally.

That August, in 1910, was my first experience of systematic training. We trained twice each day and trained hard. Much harder than when I came back to London fifteen years later. Then, after the opening month, I went to the ground only once daily.

Though present-day players may have modern appliances to assist them, I still believe the old-timer was physically fitter. Or I should rather say they were a tougher breed of men.

I was chosen as inside-right for the first home game, against Plymouth Argyle at Osborne Road. But I had another disturbing shock before I was allowed to kick a ball.

When I walked into the dressing-room, about an hour before he kick-off, George Ryder, our inside-left and father of Terry Ryder, now a professional, came up to me and said: "We're waiting for word that the players are to go on strike. Will you join with the rest of the boys?"

Though I had not then joined the Players' Union, which was discussing the problem, I replied: "Yes, I'll do exactly as the others. In fact, I have no choice, if the rest aren't going to turn out."

We spent anxious minutes waiting, before the word came through that the strike was off. It had been settled in Manchester where those great players, Charlie Roberts and Billy Meredith who became great friends of mine later on-bore the brunt of the proceedings. I joined the Union the next week.

During the course of my apprenticeship with Leyton, I had another stroke of luck. About two months after the season started, the Rev K. R. G. Hunt joined the club and played regularly behind me at right half-back.

Only two years previously, he had been right-half for Wolverhampton Wanderers when they unexpectedly defeated Newcastle United in the F.A. Cup final at Crystal Palace. The big, strong cleric was noted for his vigorous charging. He delighted in an honest shoulder charge, delivered with all the might of his powerful frame. He was an opponent, not to be feared-as he never did an unfair thing in his life-but to be avoided if possible.

Years afterwards I spoke to Billy Meredith, the great Welsh international outside-right, who played fifty-one times for his country. The name of Hunt cropped up. Meredith said: "I never ran up against a harder or fitter half-back. It was like running up against a brick wall when he charged you."

"But," I replied, "he was also a great player. He helped me a lot when I played in front of him."

"Oh, yes, his positioning was perfect. He seldom allowed you a yard of room in which to work. I'm glad I didn't have to meet him very often."

It was Hunt who instilled in me the art of positioning. In his quiet voice he would tell me where to go when he had the ball, or where to position myself when we were on the defensive. They are two of the most important assets of an inside-forward, who should be a link between attack and defence.

Throughout the week-end, they visited the Leyton ground and my home at Woolwich. I told them all to interview my father who put some of them off with the news that I would not leave home. The size of the transfer fee asked by Leyton put others off.

Then, on the Tuesday, I went to the Leyton ground. Manager Dave Buchanan told me I was wanted in the office. Bob Kyle, Sunderland manager, was waiting there.

When I went in, he said: "How would you like to play for Sunderland in the First Division? You'll get maximum wages and a ten pounds signing-on fee."

To be perfectly frank I did not know exactly where Sunderland was. I knew it was on the north-east coast somewhere near Newcastle, but that was all. It seemed very far away from home.

After talking the matter over, Kyle said: "You know, you'll never get a better chance. I can promise you a place in the first team for the rest of this season at least."

That settled the argument. I signed, received the £10 fee, and went in the dressing-room to prepare for training. When Dave Buchanan heard I had signed he was the most disappointed man I met. He wanted me to go to Everton.

The Sunderland manager came into the dressing-room a minute or two afterwards and said: "Son, it's very cold up north, so I advise you to get an outfit of thick winter clothes. You'll need them."

I did. I bought a new, lined overcoat (£4 4s) a tweed suit (£2 10s), in fact, a completely new outfit of what I thought would keep me warm in any climate. And the whole lot did not amount to the £10 signing fee. Today they would cost nearer £100. But within six months, they were no use to me whatever. I had grown right out of them.

During my second home game for Sunderland I got another of those valuable lessons that were offered gratuitously by the great players in those days.

It was in the early stages of the game with Notts County. The left-back opposed to me was a broad-shouldered, thick-set fellow called Montgomery, only about 5ft. 5 in. in height but as tough as the most solid British oak.

The first time I got the ball, I slipped it past him on the outside, darted round him on the inside and finished with a pass to my partner.

It was a trick I had seen Jackie Mordue bring off. It worked wonderfully well. But as I came back down the field, Montgomery said in a low voice: "Don't do that again, son."

Of course I took no notice. The next time I got the ball, I pushed it past him on the outside but that was as far as I got. He hit me with the full force of his burly frame so hard that I finished up flat on my back only a yard from the fencing surrounding the pitch.

It was a perfectly fair shoulder charge that shook every bone in my body. As I slowly crept back on to the field, Montgomery came up and said: "I told you not to do it again."

I never did afterwards. I learned my lesson the painful way and never tried to beat an opponent twice running with the same trick. It made me think up new ways; a very valuable lesson.

The crowd began to barrack me and I must admit I deserved it. I asked to be dropped from the side but the manager would not listen.

Finally after one game in mid-November when the crowd had, with every reason, been noisily expressive about my play, I stormed into the dressing-room and declared in a loud voice: "I'll never kick another ball for Sunderland."

Unfortunately, the local reporter heard me. In the evening paper, there were bold headlines on my statement. On Monday morning there were more reports.

Though I received hundreds of letters urging me to carry on, I packed up my bag and went home to Woolwich.

On the following Saturday, Sunderland were to play Woolwich Arsenal at the Manor Field, which was only about half-a mile from my home. I did not expect to play.

But two days before the game, Manager Kyle came to the house and, after a talk with my father, persuaded me to turn out. "Do your best to show the locals you can do it," he said, "and if you fail, we can talk about it afterwards."

I played, scored a couple of goals in a 3-I win for Sunderland, and felt much better afterwards. I stayed the following week at home and somehow felt a lot stronger.

That was the turning point. I returned to Sunderland and began to put on weight. I quickly ran up to 12st. 8lb. - my playing weight for the rest of my days - and struck a little form.

No longer did I get "the bird" from the crowd. They were very kind to me, as they were for the fourteen and a half years I spent with the club.

During this testing time I owed a debt of gratitude to trainer Billy Williams that I never repaid nor ever could repay. He looked after me like a father. If I got the slightest knock he came round to my house to attend to it at once. He also nursed me during training hours, saw that I did not overtax my strength and gave me tonics when he thought them necessary. At the time it was very often.

After I had been a few weeks at Sunderland, he noticed that I smoked quite a number of cigarettes during the day. Cigarettes were his pet aversion.

One day he handed me a new pipe, a pouch full of tobacco and a box of matches. "I want you to promise me that you will give this a fair trial and leave cigarettes alone," he said.

Taken by surprise, I gave him my promise. I smoked nothing but a pipe from that day until just over three years ago when I parted company with my teeth.

Trainer Williams was a strict disciplinarian. One day I arrived a minute or two after the time we were due to report for duty. There he stood at the door waiting for me to enter. Without a word, he pulled his watch from his pocket, looked at it then put it back. I felt very guilty. A few seconds later, he pulled out his watch again and repeated the performance. It made me feel so small that I vowed I would never be late for training again. I kept my vow.

While we were in the dressing-rooms during training hours or on match days, smoking was strictly forbidden. If a club director came into the room smoking, he was quickly ordered out. Williams was king of his own castle.

The date was 7th December, 1912, the score 7-0...For Charlie Buchan it was a personal triumph. Strangely, the man of the match was Liverpool's goalkeeper Campbell, who was outstanding; but for him it would have been double figures for Sunderland. There were clear opportunities early on for both sides, but it was Sunderland who took the lead. From a quick break Hall ran away, laid off the ball to Buchan, who with a swift low shot opened the scoring... Buchan coolly slotting home a cross from Martin. After the interval the Lads were straight on the attack looking for more goals. Nevertheless, it took until 21 minutes after break for the fifth goal, Buchan once again the man, registering his hat trick after converting a left-wing cross. Five minutes later and Buchan was beginning to make it a one-man show. Mordue took a corner, flighting it in beautifully, and after Campbell parried a shot, Buchan lashed the loose ball into the back of the net for the sixth. Having totally outclassed the opposition, we now took it easy, but with only four minutes left Holley strolled down the wing and crossed to Buchan who put in his fifth goal, and Sunderland's seventh.

Bob Kyle went into the transfer market. He bought Charlie Gladwin, six-foot-one-inch, fourteen stone Blackpool right-back, and Joe Butler, Stockport County goalkeeper.

Local people thought he must have gone crazy to pay something like £3,000 for the two. In those days, when the record transfer fee was £1,850, paid by Blackburn Rovers to West Ham United for inside-right Danny Shea, it was a lot of money, worth, I should say, ten times the amount today.

It was money well spent. From the moment Gladwin and Butler joined the side, Sunderland went ahead and became the finest team I ever played for, and one of the best I have ever seen.

Not only did we win the League Championship with a record number of points, but we nearly brought off the elusive League and Cup double, accomplished only by Preston North End and Aston Villa.

We reached the F.A. Cup final, only to be beaten by Aston Villa at the Crystal Palace before a record crowd.

Joe Butler, short and sturdy, very like Bill Shortt, the Plymouth Argyle and Welsh international goalkeeper, was reliable rather than spectacular, but it was Gladwin who revitalized the side.

There are people who say that no one player can make a poor side into a great one, and that there isn't one worth a £3,000 transfer fee. Gladwin proved they are wrong.

He used his tremendous physique to the fullest advantage. Before a game he would say: "When there's a corner-kick against us, all clear out of the penalty-area. Leave it to me."

We invariably did. But one day Charlie Thomson, our captain and centre-half with the big, black, flowing moustache, forgot the instruction.

The ball came across the goal ... Gladwin, as usual, got it and his mighty clearance struck Thomson full in the face. He went down like a log.

That was just before half-time. Thomson was brought round in time to take his place after the interval, but when he came out he joined the other side and started to play against us. He was suffering from concussion.

Gladwin was one of those full-backs who never read a newspaper or knew whom he was playing against. He was a natural player who went for the ball-and usually got it. Before a game, a colleague would say to him: "You're up against Jocky Simpson today so you're for it." All Gladwin would say was: "Who's Jocky Simpson?" At that time, Simpson was as well-known and as famous as Stanley Matthews is today.

At other times, one would say to Gladwin: "You must be on your best behaviour, Tityrus is reporting the game."

Now Tityrus, the mighty atom Jimmy Catton, was the out standing sports writer of his day and editor of the Athletic News, known then as the "Footballers' Bible".

Yet Gladwin's only remark was: "Who's Tityrus"?

Before every game, Gladwin pushed his finger down his throat and made himself sick. It was his way of conquering his nerves. Yet on the field he was one of the most uncompromising and fearless players I have known.

He stabilized the defence and gave the wing half-backs Frank Cuggy and Harry Low the confidence to go upfield and join in attacking movements.

Sunderland became a first-class team from the moment he joined the side. He was worth his weight in gold; yes, more than the £34,500 paid for Jackie Sewell.

With Gladwin and Butler consolidating the defence, Sunderland gradually crept up the League table until we knew we had a chance of winning the championship-there was only one team we feared, Aston Villa.

A week before the final we got a shock - George Holley, our great inside-left, received a severe ankle injury which threatened to keep him out of the game. After a test on the morning of the final, it was decided to play him.

It proved to be the most sensational of all the Crystal Palace finals. It was crowded with incidents, some of which are better forgotten.

First, there was the trouble between Charlie Thomson, our centre-half and Harry Hampton, Villa's dynamic centre-forward, the terror of goalkeepers. It was Hampton, who, in 1913, won an international for England at Stamford Bridge by charging Brownlie, the Scottish goalkeeper, with the ball in his arms, into the net.

Thomson and Hampton soon got at loggerheads and rather overstepped the mark in one particular episode. Though neither was sent off the field, they each received a month's suspension; the first month of the following season.

There was also an injury to Villa goalkeeper, Sam Hardy, which kept him off the field for about twenty minutes. The game was held up for seven minutes, making it the longest final, apart from extra-time, in the history of the event.

Hardy, I consider the finest goalkeeper I played against. By uncanny anticipation and wonderful positional sense he seemed to act like a magnet to the ball.

I never saw him dive full length to make a save. He advanced a yard or two and so narrowed the shooting angle that forwards usually sent the ball straight at him.

When the game was resumed, with Villa centre-half Jim Harrop in goal, we peppered away at the Villa goal. We hit the upright twice, but simply could not get the bail into the net.

Then, midway in this half, with Hardy back in goal, Villa forced a corner-kick on the right. Charlie Wallace took it and sent the ball waist-high somewhere about the penalty-line, a bad kick really.

Tom Barber, Villa right-half, dashed forward and got his head to the ball. As our defenders stood apparently spellbound the ball passed slowly between them into the corner of the net.

This amazing goal was enough to give Villa the Cup and made a dream come true for Clem Stephenson, Villa inside-left, of the stocky frame and north-country accent.

When we were lined up for a throw-in soon after the game started, Clem said to me: "Charlie, we're going to beat you by a goal to nothing."

"Oh," I replied, "what makes you think that?"

"I dreamed it last night," said Clem "also that Tom Barber's going to score the winning goal." I could not help but think of a song at the time which had these words: "Dreams very often come true."

A great schemer and tactician, Clem brought the best out of his colleagues by his accurate, well-timed passes. He was by no means fast but made the ball do the work.

He was the general who led the brilliant Huddersfield team to three successive League championships.

Out in France I could never escape from football. I did not want to. Rather I was glad of an opportunity to play. My first game was behind the Somme front, just after the big push in July 1916, at our camp in Marie-court, a little north of Albert.

From the playing field we could see the spire of Arras church.

Legend had it that when the statue of the Virgin Mary, hanging at right angles, fell, the war would end. We devoutly wished it would fall right then.

No sooner had we started than German shells began to drop perilously near the field. So we packed up and restarted on another pitch. The game had to go on.

We fielded a Grenadier Guards team and I had the job of getting the side together-I had been promoted to sergeant by this time.

One of our officers was the outside-left. When I went to his tent to tell him about the game, he was not there, so I spoke to his batman. He was our goalkeeper, Harry Jefferies, who played for Queen's Park Rangers and Bristol City.

I persuaded Harry to let me have one of the officer's shirts. Mine were in such a verminous state it was impossible to wear them.

Just as I got the shirt, I saw, through the flap of the tent, the officer approaching. Hastily I tucked the shirt up the back of my tunic. I gave the officer the message and as I was going out he said:

"Oh, Sergeant, you might tuck your shirt in, it looks unsightly." The arm of the shirt was hanging down like a tail.

Our keen rivals were the Scots Guards. In their ranks were Sammy Chedgzoy and Billy Kirsopp who, before the war, had been Everton's right-wing in many League games. It was strange that later I partnered Chedgzoy in inter-League games against the Scottish League.

Well, I got through the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele battles without a scratch. Then I came home and was posted to an Officers' Cadet School, at Catterick Camp, for three months training.

At the end of the first post-war season - 1919-20 - trouble broke out concerning players' wages. I was on the Players' Union Committee at the time and we wanted the weekly wage stabilized at £10 per week maximum.

The League Management Committee, the mouthpiece of the clubs, proposed a reduction to £9 per week maximum. The Union held a delegates' meeting in Manchester at which it was unanimously decided to call a strike.

The delegates were instructed to go back to their teams and vote "yes or no" on strike action and come back to another meeting on the following Monday.

In the meantime, however, several teams re-signed en bloc. So there could be no strike. The upshot was they had to accept the League's terms £9 per week maximum.

Worse followed at the end of the following season, 1920-1, when the wages were reduced to a maximum of £8 for a 37 weeks playing season and £6 for the 15 weeks close season.

All the time, the Union were pressing for the abolition of wage restrictions. They called for a "no limit" wage but the clubs would have none of it.

If the players had pressed their claims in the summer of 1920, I am sure they would have got their terms. As it was, they failed to get together as a body and were overruled.

Much the same is going on today. The Union are pressing for the abolition of the maximum wage and new contracts for players. They will never get them unless they work together in closer harmony.

One day in May 1925, I was serving in my Sunderland shop, when the great Herbert Chapman walked in. A few weeks before, he had left Huddersfield Town to take over the managership of Arsenal.

His first words on seeing me were: "I have come to sign you on for Arsenal."

"Yes,' I replied, thinking he was joking, "shall we go into the back room and sign the forms?"

"I'm serious," was his answer. "I want you to come with me to Highbury."

"Have you spoken to Sunderland about it?" I asked, still thinking it was all part of the joke.

"Oh, yes," said Mr Chapman. "If you don't believe me, ring up Bob Kyle, and he'll tell you."

Still unbelieving, I phoned the Sunderland manager. "Yes," he said, "we have given Arsenal permission to approach you."

"Do you want me to go?" I asked him.

"We are leaving that to you," he said. "Do what you think best for yourself. It's in your hands."

Slowly I put down the receiver. I was almost stunned by what I had heard. It had never crossed my mind that Sunderland would be prepared to part with me so easily.

Mr Chapman just said one word: "Well?"

And all I could say at that moment was: "Give me time to think it over. Come back tomorrow, and I will let you know, one way or the other."

When I went home that evening I talked the matter over with the family. The thing that hurt most was that, after more than fourteen years with Sunderland, my services were so lightly regarded.

Finally I made up my mind. The next morning Mr Chapman again called at the shop. I said to him: "I am prepared to sign for Arsenal, but I shan't do so until the end of July."

"Will you give me your word you'll sign then?" he asked; and when I replied "Yes", we talked of other things. A lot of them concerned the Arsenal team and what I thought about them.

A few weeks later, a Sunderland director, Mr George Short, called on me at the shop. "What's this about your leaving Sunderland?" he asked. When I told him, he replied: "Then I shall resign."

He kept his word. It seemed there were sharply divided opinions about my leaving, but the strange thing is that nobody asked me to change my mind.

The summer went by, and then towards the end of July, Mr Chapman again visited me in Sunderland to complete the negotiations.

It was arranged that I should go to London to talk with the Arsenal chairman, Sir Henry Norris, and a director, Mr William Hall. At the same time I was to look over houses similar to the one I had in Sunderland.

As soon as the housing accommodation was settled - and that was not the difficult matter it is today - I met Mr Chapman again to sign the necessary forms.

Before doing so I asked him, as a matter of personal satisfaction, what was the transfer fee.

After a little persuasion he gave me an answer. It was almost as big a shock as the transfer itself.

He said: "Well, it's rather a peculiar one. We pay Sunderland cash down £2,000, and then we hand over £100 to them for every goal you score during your first season with Arsenal."

Within a few days of my arrival at Highbury, Mr Chapman called a meeting of the players. I was appointed captain. Though I did not want the job - I thought I would be of greater service as one of the rank and file-they insisted I should be in charge on the field.

One of the first things we did was to create a spirit of friendship among the whole staff. All were to be pals, working for the good of the club.

We discussed matters from all sides, ironing out any bones of contention. We soon became hundred per cent Arsenal players.

That, I think, is the secret of the team's unrivalled success over the years. The club comes first. Team-work is not allowed to suffer from petty squabbling.

Weekly meetings were instituted. On the eve of every match, big or small, the players, manager and trainer, talked it over.

We had no blackboards or plans of the field. It was a straightforward discussion, with every player airing his point of view. We talked over moves for every basic part of the game, such as throws-in, corner-kicks, free-kicks, and the strong and weak points of our own team, as well as the opposition.

We soon knew what every player was expected to do.

It was an accepted principle that we never discussed any move that the opposition could interfere with. We concentrated on our own side-covering, backing up, calling for the ball, and any point that we could work out for ourselves.

Every player was made to talk. Some took a lot of persuading, but eventually all joined in, even the most self-conscious and the "silent ones".

It was during the summer of 1925 that the change in the offside law was made. It was the biggest upheaval in the game for many years, and, in my opinion, altered it completely.

It was necessary, though. There were so many full-backs copying the example of Bill McCracken, Newcastle and Irish international full-back, known as the "offside king", that the game was fast developing into a procession of free-kicks for offside.

The change from three defenders to two between an attacker and the goal brought about a revision of tactics from the old spectacular passing movements and brilliant individualism, to the thrilling "three-kick" raids on goal and team-work; from frills to thrills.

Many people will say it was a change for the worse. But after all, it is what the public wants nowadays. They pay the piper so they should call the tune.

The change certainly brought the end of the old style. New methods were required and Arsenal were the first to exploit them...

Mr Chapman called upon me to outline the scheme I had in mind. I said I not only wanted a defensive centre-half but also a roving inside-forward, like a fly-half in rugby, to act as link between attack and defence.

He was to take up such positions in mid-field that any defender would be able to give him the ball without the chance of an opponent intercepting it. Of course, I had in mind that I would be the forward proposed for this job.

First we thrashed out the position of the centre-half. He was not to be a "policeman" to the opposing centre-forward. He was given a beat of a certain area bordering the penalty-line which he was to guard. The other defenders were to range themselves around him according to the direction of play.

It was the beginning of Arsenal's "defence in depth" policy, brought almost to perfection by later teams.

Then the roving forward was discussed. I got a surprise when I was told emphatically that I was not the man. Mr Chapman said: "We want you up in attack scoring goals. You have the height and the stamina.'

We talked about other players until Mr Chapman said: "Well, it's your plan, Charlie, have you any suggestions to make?"

Then it occurred to me that I had seen, in practice games and playing for the second team, an inside-forward who was likely to fill the role. He was Andy Neil, a Scot who was getting on in years but who could kill a ball instantly and pass accurately.

So I said: "Yes, I suggest Andy Neil as the right man. He has a football brain and two good feet."

Finally, after a lot of argument, it was decided that Neil should be the first schemer-in-chief. And I must say he made a very good job of it for nearly the rest of that season.

Thus the Arsenal plan was brought into existence. It has been copied by most clubs.

It looked as if neither side was going to score. Then seventeen minutes before the end, Dan Lewis, Arsenal goalkeeper, made the tragic slip that sent the Cup to Wales.

Hugh Ferguson, Cardiff centre-forward, received the ball about twenty yards from goal. He shot, a low ball that went, at no great pace, straight towards the goalkeeper. Lewis went down on one knee for safety. He gathered the ball in his arms. In trying to retrieve it, Lewis only knocked it further towards the goal.

The ball, with Len Davies following up, trickled slowly but inexorably over the goal-line with hardly enough strength to reach the net. It was a bitter set-back.

Even after that, Arsenal had a chance of pulling the game out of the fire. Outside-left Sid Hoar sent across a long, high centre. The ball dropped just beside the penalty spot and bounced high above his outstretched fingers.Jimmy Brain and I rushed forward together to head the ball into the empty goal. Between us, we missed the golden opportunity of the game.

Six foot tall with long legs and a loping gait, Buchan developed into a gifted and prolific inside-forward, scoring 224 goals in 413 appearances for Sunderland (a club record which still stands). The tally would have been higher had it not been for the outbreak of war. Typical of his generation, in A Lifetime in Football (first serialised in Football Monthly, then published in 1955), he skirted over his experiences at the Somme and Passchendaele, preferring instead to recall matches played with his army chums.

Apparently unscathed, physically or emotionally, Buchan returned from the trenches to resume his scoring feats with Sunderland in 1918, whilst also teaching part-time and setting up a sports goods shop in the town in 1920. By then he was married to a Wearside girl, Ellen, and had two children. He also started contributing articles to the local press, unusually without the intercession of a ghost writer.

But stand out though he did, both on and off the pitch, regular England honours eluded Buchan. Perhaps because of his chippy manner, he won only six caps, to go with his one Championship medal and FA Cup Final loser's medal, both earned in 1913.

Charlie Buchan - History

On 25 June 1960, former Sunderland and Arsenal forward Charlie Buchan died in Monte Carlo at the age of 68. One of the best footballers of his age, he is also remembered for his post-playing career as a football journalist and editor of Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly .

Born in Plumstead, London, Buchan began his career in 1909 as an amateur with Woolwich Arsenal, but left the club over a disagreement with the manager about expenses. In 1911, he signed with Sunderland and proceeded to win the league with them in 1913. That same year, Sunderland advanced to the FA Cup Final, but lost to Aston Villa 1-0.

Buchan made 370 league appearances for Sunderland between 1911 and 1925 (a period interrupted by World War I), and was their leading scorer in seven of those seasons. In 1925, he returned to Arsenal (who had dropped the "Woolwich" by then). He returned to the FA Cup Final with them in 1927, but was again on the losing side.

By the time he retired in 1928, he had scored 257 league goals, making him the Football League's all-time sixth-highest goalscorer. But he contributed more than goals, helping Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman develop the influential new W-M formation that led to great success for the Gunners in the 1930s.

After his playing days ended, he turned to journalism, writing for the Daily News and co-founding the Football Writer's Association. In September 1951, he started Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly , which ran until June 1974, fourteen years after his death.

Charlie Buchan

Charles Murray Buchan was born in Plumstead on 22 September 1891 and was brought up in the homeland of Woolwich Arsenal. Naturally he started with the club, but an argument with George Morrell relating to his expenses while he was training to be a teacher caused him to decline a professional contract after joining Arsenal in 1909. This was of course the era of massive cut backs at Arsenal which ultimately led to the club entering administration and being taken over by Henry Norris, so it is not too surprising that any request for extra payment would be turned down.

Charlie moved on to Northfleet United and then Leyton in the Southern League before being offered a contract by Sunderland,

Sunderland were a successful first divi sion club at that time winning the league and appearing in the cup final, and Charlie was Sunderland’s leading scorer both before and after the first world war and remains Sunderland’s all time record scorer.

During the 1914/18 war he served his country with the Sherwood Foresters and was awarded the Military Medal, (an equivalent to the Military Cross). He ended the war as a second lieutenant.

In 1925 Buchan lost his place in the Sunderland team and was signed by Chapman who arrived that summer. The opening demand from Sunderland was very high – £4000 for a player now in the reserves – so Chapman reduced this to £2000 plus £100 a goal. However as he scored 21 goals in his first season the deal went against Arsenal’s interests. Buchan made his debut against Tottenham H in the first match of the season on 29 August 1925.

Chapman and Buchan had a close bond, and (at least so the story goes) they worked together after the defeat to Newcastle to reform the tactical approach of Arsenal, following the change in the offside law – also in the summer of 1925. The change was to move from the standard 2-3-5 formation into 3-2-2-3 in which the centre half was pulled back into the final defensive line, with two defensive midfielders in front. In front of them were the inside right and inside left playing as attacking midfield, and then a forward line of three that we would recognise today.

Charlie Buchan captained Arsenal in the 1927 cup final and retired one year later. He scored 56 goals in 120 matches for Arsenal playing for the most part as an attacking midfield player, following the formation change he helped introduce.

He then moved on to journalism, and commentary for the BBC, as well as being the founder of Charlie Buchan’s Football Monthly which continued until June 1974. He also published his autobiography, “A Lifetime in Football” in 1955, which is the source of much of our knowledge about the tactical change – and therefore as we have seen elsewhere, this needs to be treated with a little caution.

Charlie Buchan died in 1960, at the age of 68, whilst holidaying in France.

Football Pioneers: Charles Buchan

In 1912/13, Sunderland narrowly failed to win the Double. In that year, they won the First Division title but lost 1-0 to Aston Villa – the league runners-up – in the FA Cup final in front of 120,000 spectators at Crystal Palace.

Led by a Scot, Charlie Thomson, it was probably Sunderland’s greatest ever season, managed by Bob Kyle with Billy Williams as trainer. Also in Sunderland’s ranks was Charles Buchan (1891-1960), one of the most prominent football figures in the first half of the 20th century, not only for his career on the pitch, but also off it.

Between 1911 and 1925, he played 370 league games for the Roker men, scoring a club record 209 goals. But rather than an athletic centre-forward, Buchan was an inside-right who formed a memorable partnership with right-winger Jackie Mordue.

Buchan gained a reputation for intelligent and thoughtful play, as well as an eye for goal. Combined with his excellent close control and dribbling ability, he was able to execute slide rule passes. Because of his tall, willowy 6ft 3/4ins frame, he was also known for his heading ability.

Charles Buchan

Buchan won six caps for the national team.

In 1913 he won his first England cap in a 2-1 defeat to Ireland in Belfast. After the game he overheard a linesman criticise his performance and Buchan took offence. The linesman turned out to be a member of the FA Selection Committee. Buchan only made six England appearances in total.

Originally from Plumstead, he joined Arsenal in 1925 before retiring three years later. At Arsenal, it was Buchan who contributed as much as Herbert Chapman to the tactical innovation of the defensive centre-half to counter the goal glut that followed the changing of the offside law in 1925. He appeared in the 1927 FA Cup Final, as the Gunners lost 1-0 to Cardiff City at Wembley.

A strong streak of independence ran through Buchan. He was on the committee of the players’ union between 1922 and 1925 and was not slow in complaining to referees if he felt he was receiving rough treatment.

He later qualified as a teacher as well as opening a sports shop in Sunderland. During the war, he volunteered for the Grenadier Guards and was awarded the Military Medal, completing officer training before its end.

Charles Buchan

Buchan, pictured during the 1927 FA Cup Final, ended his playing career with a three-year spell at Arsenal, before moving into football journalism.

Instead of management, Buchan opted to pursue a career in football journalism following his retirement. At first he wrote for Sunderland and Newcastle newspapers before becoming the football correspondent on the Daily News (later the News Chronicle).

Later, he became a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio. His contributions to Sports Report and his summaries of Saturday results on the Home Service made him a national figure. This status was further confirmed with launch of his Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.

It was aimed at boys and has a claim to be the first modern football magazine with its mixture of club and player profiles, historical articles and photographs. Its uncontroversial and generally measured tone reflected the man himself.

For several seasons, Leicester City Football Club has worked with De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History & Culture on various heritage projects.

For more information about sports history at DMU please click HERE.

Charles “Charlie” Buchan

Charles Buchan had started on the books of Woolwich Arsenal but left in 1910 to play for Leyton.

In March 1911 he signed for Sunderland for £1200 and went on to score 209 league goals in 370 games either side of the war, he is still Sunderland’s record goalscorer. He won the League Championship with Sunderland in 1913 although was a Cup Final loser that year to Aston Villa, and was top scorer in 7 of the 8 seasons he played with them.

In 1925 aged 34 he signed for Arsenal, scoring 49 goals in just over 100 league games, and was again a losing Cup Finalist in 1927 when he captained Arsenal in their never forgotten defeat to Cardiff City, notable of course for the fact that it’s still the only time a non English team has won the FA Cup.

He also won 6 England caps scoring 4 times between February 1913, he scored inside 10 minutes, and 1924. He is also remembered for his journalism and eponymous football magazine and publications. He also played cricket for Kent.

What strikes about Buchan is his physical presence when you see him in photographs. He looks as strong as an ox and at 6 foot is normally notably taller and more athletic looking than his team mates. That is obvious looking at the Youtube link of the 1927 Final alone, by which time he was 10 years past his physical peak.

His overall contribution to English football as a player and journalist, forgetting his outstanding career, make him an obvious choice for the Heroes list.

Charlie Buchan – Sunderland’s Greatest Ever Player?

Discussion in ‘Pure Football’ started by The Colonel, Dec 31, 2012

Charlie Buchan
From Sunderland to the Somme

Charlie Buchan was one of the all time Sunderland greats, and pre war perhaps the finest striker England produced. He stood an impressive 6ft tall and weighed in at 12st 3lbs.

Born at Plumstead in London he started his career with the Northfield club before moving to Leyton Orient having previously left Arsenal in a row over expenses. Signed by manager Bob Kyle for Sunderland on 21 March 1911 for £1,200, he was just 21 when he played in the 1913 FA Cup Final.

He was an all round sportsman and had played Cricket for Kent.

His favoured position on the football field was inside right, and many said that his playing style reminded them very much of the Corinthians, praise indeed for such a fine club. He gained representative honours with England, making his debut against the Irish, and twice played against the Scottish League.

His England debut was in Belfast on 15 February 1913, and alongside him were his Sunderland colleagues Jackie Mordue and Frank Cuggy, the Sunderland Triangle. “Perpetual Motion” was its other name. Typically Buchan scored after 10 minutes old habits die hard at any level.

The game was memorable for all the wrong reasons, Ireland’s first victory over England in a full international 2 v 1.

Strangely enough, having parents who were both Aberdonians he was asked to play for Scotland in 1912. He declined, as having been born in Woolwich he wanted to play for England.

His second inter league game resulted in a 4 v 1 defeat by Scotland in Glasgow, but Buchan had the fortune to be up against some class players. Bobby Walker the Heart of Midlothian inside right and outside left Alex Smith of Glasgow Rangers left Buchan an admirer.

He tells of how on his first trip abroad with the league side he travelled 36 hours on a train to Budapest. Arriving in the hotel all the players snuck out of the hotel and spent the entire night in the best nightclub that the Hungarian capital had to offer. The team triumphed 9 v 0!

His first game at Hampden Park for his country had been in front of a then world record crowd, some 127,307 in a 1 v 1 draw. The match ended up a duel between the England right back Bob Crompton and the Celtic outside left Jimmy Quinn. Buchan stood in fascinated awe.

At the end of the 1911/12 season Buchan went on holiday to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and whilst there was invited to play football for a local team. That he did, with a knotted handkerchief tied round his head to prevent sunstroke, and assisted them in reaching the final. But back home a photograph of Buchan in a distinctive yellow and black striped shirt reached Roker Park and he was carpeted by Manager Bob Kyle.

Buchan considered Sam Hardy of Aston Villa the finest goalkeeper he ever played against and was proved right as the Villa man kept Sunderland at bay in the 1913 FA Cup final at Crystal Palace. To place Buchan’s popularity into perspective some of our older fans who saw him play can recall a chap who used to carry a board around the perimeter of the field that said “Buchan Playing Today”.

By the end of his Sunderland career, which had lasted some 15 years (4 years lost to the war), he was the only red and white to score 200 league goals. Having played some 380 league games he was transferred to Arsenal in July 1925. He had just opened up a sports outfitters business when he was allowed to speak to the legendary Arsenal and ex Leeds City Manager Herbert Chapman, and much to his dismay he left. It was at Arsenal that he was instrumental in devising the WM formation in response to the 2 man offside law. He finished his career on 5 May 1928 at Goodison Park in a 3 v 3 draw against The Toffees, a Game in which Dixie Dean scored a hat trick.

During the War he played soccer for the Guards Depot before turning out for Chelsea, but this didn’t last long. He also had spells playing for both Birmingham and Huddersfield Town. When the war ended he of course returned to Sunderland, who had retained his professional registration. Prior to league football starting again he had taken up a teaching position at Cowan Terrace School.

Buchan went on to become both a Broadcaster and a Journalist with his Football Monthly magazine.

Buchan’s War experience and the events surrounding his untimely death deserve a closer examination and 2 previously unrevealed stories can now be told, courtesy of Buchan’s grandaughter.

During the war Buchan served with the Grenadier Guards. On being given Lance Corporal Status he ended up fighting on The Western Front at The Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele, 3 of the bloodiest conflicts of WW1. That he survived all 3 to tell the tale is a feat in itself, that he was also decorated for his bravery makes his Boys Own story complete. They don’t make many like Buchan.

In his autobiography “A Lifetime In Football” he modestly makes little mention of his war record and the events surrounding his decoration were never revealed. However here are those details.

Captain in the Grenadier Guards, Buchan’s Unit was pinned down in battle. In an effort to save his men he stormed a German lookout post with his troops close behind him. They took the lookout post but in doing so Buchan was bayoneted in the foot by the one German soldier who had remained alive. Luckily for Buchan (a footballer remember) the bayonet went straight through the gap between his toes. The fate of the German soldier is unknown.

His commendation was made sure when, under enemy fire he went back to the mess tent to get his men food as their rations had run out. His cause was presumably helped by the fact that he was a fast runner.

Buchan’s Military Medal was gazetted on 12 December 1917, won presumably at Cambrai, some 7 miles behind the Hindenburg line, which had been fought the month before. There was no citation with his medal but he was nominated for a Commission shortly after he won it.

The Battle at Cambrai is significant in that it was the first time that Tanks, some 400 of them, had been used in significant force in a War. To place Buchan’s bravery into perspective the Germans suffered 50,000 casualties and the British 45,000.

The German Army’s Chief Of Staff Paul von Hindenburg described the Battle of Cambrai thus, “From the point of view, not of scale, but of the obstinacy which the English displayed and the difficulties of the ground for the defenders, the battles which now raged in Flanders put all our battles on the Somme in 1916 completely in the shade”.

Buchan as we have seen somehow lived to tell a tale of 3 ferocious battles on The Western Front but he eventually succumbed to meet his Maker on 25 June 1960 in unusual circumstances.

He and his wife had gone to Beaulieu Sur Mer in the South of France for their summer holidays in June 1960. They went there most years and stayed at The Metropole Hotel near to the Casino, drinking champagne at 11am every day. They would then go to the races in the afternoon and after dinner they would go to the casino.

On 25 June 1960 Buchan had a considerable win at the casino. He subsequently had a heart attack and died. As he wasn’t Catholic they couldn’t take him to the local chapel and so his body laid in rest at the Casino overnight.

His wife went back to the hotel and mid morning the next day she was greeted by the sight of her husband’s coffin with a bottle of champagne in it together with a vase of flowers from the casino manager.

Members of his family flew out from England to retrieve the body and bring it back to the UK. However there was an air strike at the time and they couldn’t make the return trip. Therefore and as the weather was scorching that summer, Buchan would have to be cremated, a very rare event in a Catholic country such as France at that time. However there was a problem, there was only 1 crematorium in the South of France, at Marseille, a long journey from Beaulieu Sur Mer.

A hearse subsequently arrived to take Buchan’s body to Marseille but bizarrely on the way and at 12pm the hearse pulled into a restaurant car park so that the driver could have his lunch, with wine, and 2 hours later the journey continued. The hearse arrived at Marseille but as the crematorium hadn’t been used for years it had to be opened up especially to cremate Mr Buchan. Following the cremation the family members then went back to Beaulieu Sur Mer with Mr Buchan’s ashes and from there travelled back to England in a cargo plane. A memorial service was subsequently held at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street.

The News Chronicle commented on his passing”that rare combination, the complete footballer and the perfect gentleman”. Of his time on the Western Front he stated, shortly before his death that “it was tough, mighty tough, but I know now it did me all the good in the world. I was proud to belong to the Grenadier Guards”.

Buchan’s career record of 209 league goals for Sunderland has yet to be surpassed.

Charlie Buchan ranks alongside Raich Carter and Bobby Gurney as our finest of pre war players. His career is indelibly linked to that of Sunderland AFC. As footballing legends go he stood with the greats of the English game.

Buchan’s ashes were interred at Golders Green cemetery and he has an entry in the book of remembrance which can be read every 25 June i.e. the anniversary of his death. His ashes are in a niche in the hall, top floor on the North Wall, number 5793.

Buchan’s entry in the Book of Remembrance at Golders Green Cemetery, on the 25 June date, reads quite simply “Buchan, Charles Murray, 1960, God’s Finger Touched Him And He Slept”.

Herbert’s Second In Command

His skills were noticed by Herbert Chapman. A rather bizarre deal was struck. Buchan returned to the renamed Arsenal for £2000. They had to pay £100 per goal as well. Well, how many goals does a 33-year-old score? Unfortunately for the man holding the purse strings at Arsenal, it was 21 goals. Buchan was bought so Herbert Chapman could perfect his tactical formation commonly known as “WM”. As a player, he was described as elegant and a master.

He loved the game and on his retirement from playing he joined the Daily News as a sports journalist. He certainly knew the game from a tactical point of view. He understood its constant evolution and saw areas for improvement. He wrote a coaching manual for the Daily News which lead to the development of the FA’s coaching scheme. This was not the first time he wielded his experience in a positive way. He had been involved in the Association of Football Players Union. He had advocated striking over pay. This may not have had the desired effect but it was part of the ever-evolving game.

Playing career

Early career

Born in Plumstead, London to parents from Aberdeen, Buchan first played as an amateur for local club Woolwich Arsenal, joining the club in December 1909. However, having impressed in reserve games, he fell out with manager George Morrell over his expenses, and declined to sign to a professional contract. Buchan moved to Northfleet United as an amateur for the remainder of the 1909–10 season. Winning Kent Senior Cup, Kent League and Thames and Medway Combination medals. In the close season he signed for Southern League Leyton whilst playing for them he was spotted and signed by Sunderland in March 1911.

Sunderland and wartime

A tall, elegant centre forward, Buchan was highly successful at the Wearside club. With him in tow Sunderland won the 1912–13 First Division title, and narrowly missed out on the Double, losing the FA Cup final 1–0 to Aston Villa. Frequently described as the best footballer in the country, Buchan was Sunderland’s leading scorer for seven of the eight seasons from 1912–13 to 1923–24. This tally excludes the World War I seasons, when full competitive football was suspended. He is Sunderland’s all-time record League goalscorer, with 209 goals. Buchan was also capped by England, his debut coming against Ireland on 15 February 1913. His appearances were limited by the lack of internationals due to war he only earned six full caps, scoring four goals.

During the First World War, Buchan served with the Grenadier Guards and then the Sherwood Foresters. He was awarded the Military Medal and on 11 September 1918 was promoted to temporary second lieutenant for the final months of the war.

In 1925, when nearly 34, Buchan and Sunderland parted company. His place in the team went to a player who hit at least 35 league goals in each of his four full seasons at Roker Park, Dave Halliday, the most prolific goals to games goal scorer in the club’s history. While at Sunderland he also played cricket for Durham in the 1920 Minor Counties Championship.


Buchan was re-signed by Arsenal as the club were now called. Sunderland manager Bob Kyle initially demanded a £4,000 fee, but Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman bargained him down to £2,000 plus £100 per goal scored by Buchan during his first season. Buchan made his debut in a North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur on 29 August 1925. He ultimately scored twenty-one, thus forcing Arsenal to pay £100 more than Kyle’s original demand.

Just as important as his goals was his contribution to Arsenal’s tactics it was Buchan who came up, along with Chapman, of rejigging Arsenal’s formation to the “WM”, to fully exploit the relaxation of the offside law. Buchan’s idea was to move the centre half from a roaming position in midfield to a “stopper” position in defence, with one forward brought back into midfield. This meant the offside trap was no longer the responsibility of the two full-backs, but the single central defender, while the full backs were pushed wider to cover the wings. Eventually the change in tactic would bring Arsenal great success in the 1930s.

Buchan was a regular at Arsenal, despite his age, for three seasons. He captained Arsenal to their first-ever Cup final in 1927, but again was on the losing side, as Cardiff City beat the Gunners 1–0, thanks to a freak mistake by Arsenal ‘keeper Dan Lewis. Buchan finally retired at the end of 1927–28, having scored 16 league goals that season despite being 36 years of age. In all he scored 56 goals in 120 matches for Arsenal his count of 257 goals in the League, which would have been more had the First World War not intervened, makes him the Football League’s sixth-top goalscorer of all time.

How the untrue stories about Charlie Buchan and Arsenal have grown and grown

It is interesting just how much of Arsenal’s history, beyond the strictly factual accounts of who played and what the score was, is down to the testimony of one man. On this day I am reminded of another such case as Charlie Buchan’s name turns up twice – in 1910 and 1928.

Many know that Buchan was the player brought to Arsenal at the start of Herbert Chapman’s reign, on a deal that required Arsenal to pay Chapman £100 (about £6000 today) for each goal scored. The story then was that cost Arsenal more than the original fee that was demanded for him.

There is more, for subsequently Knighton claimed that he had tried to sign Buchan, suggesting he offered far more thanh Arsenal eventually paid for him, while going against the express wish of the club’s owner, in one of the most bizarre passages in his autobiography. You can read that here.

Not only was that not true (something that can be seen simply from looking at the number of goals Buchan scored) but the tale that Buchan invented the WM defensive system after Arsenal had conceded seven against Newcastle was also not true. Indeed Buchan doesn’t even claim this in his autobiography as you can read here.

Nor indeed was the new system that did emerge of three central defenders, the key to dealing with the new offside law. Nor was that approach universally adopted, as one can see from the very high scores that continued to occur during the 1925/6 season and thereafter.

Buchan was not averse to exaggerating his own place in football’s history – but most of the re-writing of this part of football’s history has been done by journalists subsequently, just wanting a quick story, without any recourse to the facts.

Here are the anniversaries…

5 May 1893: Royal Arsenal needed to become a limited company to join the Football League but were forbidden by the rules from registering a company name that associated the club with the royal family. On this day they chose Woolwich Arsenal FC. For the history of Arsenal’s name changes see here.

5 May 1907: Woolwich Arsenal played a Belgian XI in Brussels, winning 2-1. It was the first overseas match that Arsenal played, as far as we know, and was the start of an ambitious eight match tour of which Arsenal won seven and drew one game.

5 May 1908: William Garbutt – the Arsenal man who later took football to Italy – was transferred to Blackburn. He stayed there for four years, but after injury stopped playing in 1912, aged 29 and moved to Genoa.

5 May 1910: Henry Norris and Charlie Buchan entered discussions for Buchan to play for Fulham, but Buchan rejected the offer saying Bury had offered him twice as much. Norris did however succeed in signing him once Chapman took over.

5 May 1928: Charlie Buchan’s last game. Everton 3 Arsenal 3. He scored 56 goals in 120 matches for Arsenal and then moved into journalism, and commentary for the BBC. His autobiography, “A Lifetime in Football” claims he introduced the tactical change to the “WM” style but an analysis of matches in 1925/6 suggests his reporting is little more than self-aggrandizement.

5 May 1930: Northampton Town 0 Arsenal 7. One of a series of end of season games with Chapman’s first managerial club organised to help raise funds for the local hospital.

5 May 1934: Arsenal 2 Sheffield U 0. Arsenal won the league by three points from Huddersfield despite the sudden death of Herbert Chapman earlier in the season. It was also the last game for David Jack who went on to manage first Southend and then Middlesbrough.

5 May 1936: George Cox transferred to Fulham for £150 to Fulham. Despite playing for Arsenal’s first team during the glorious 1930s, George Cox remains better known for his career in first-class cricket and he was indeed himself the son of a cricketer who played for Sussex (in cricket he was known as George Cox Junior).

5 May 1945: Last game for Ted Drake. He went into management and transformed Chelsea, leading them to their one and only championship of the 20th century, before they sacked him.

5 May 1948 : Death of Charlie Satterthwaite who scored Arsenal’s first ever goal in the 1st Division. Charlie played 21 games in 1907/8, 18 the following year and four in 1909/10, ending his career on November 6th in a home defeat to Bradford. He did not join another club and retired from football aged 32.

5 May 1954: Last game for Lionel Smith (a friendly v Grasshoppers). He moved to Watford and then became player-manager at Gravesend & Northfleet where he won the 1957-58 Southern League title.

5 May 1961: Racing club de Paris 1 Arsenal 4. One of the series of games set up by Herbert Chapman, initially to raise funds for men invalided in the first world war.

5 May 1966: Arsenal 0 Leeds Utd 3. The infamous “4,554” game with Highbury’s lowest ever crowd for a league match. It was the third successive 0-3 defeat although Arsenal won their final match 1-0 to end up 14th in the league.

5 May 1986: Oxford 3 Arsenal 0. Last game for Tony Woodcock and last game with Steve Burtenshaw as manager before George Graham took over. Woodcock moved into business, and later became an ardent supporter of Arsene Wenger’s style of management.

5 May 1990: Last game for Martin Hayes. He scored 29 league goals in 70 starts, He moved to Celtic but this didn’t work out but had more success at Swansea before moving into non-league club management and commentary on Arsenal Player.

5 May 1990: Norwich 2 Arsenal 2: David O’Leary beat George Armstrong’s record of 500 games in the final game of the season.

5 May 1996: A last gasp victory at home against relegated Bolton gave Arsenal fifth place and a European place amidst much celebration within Highbury. A draw would have let Everton in to the final European slot. A defeat could have made way for Tottenham.

5 May 1999: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 3 as the championship looked possible, however Arsenal faltered in the next game. Anelka scored his 17th and final league goal to end as top scorer for the season. Between 20 December and 5 May we didn’t lose a single game.

5 May 2008: Mathieu Flamini agreed to a four-year contract with Italian club Milan, meaning he would leave Arsenal on a free transfer on 1 July. He had a hard time at Milan in the early days, playing as a late sub in Europa League games and eventually returned to Arsenal on a free, and then moved on a free to Crystal Palace meaning no transfer fee had ever been paid for him.

5 May 2009: Arsenal 1 Man U 3 (Champions League semi final 1-4 aggregate). Van Persie scored a 76th minute penalty but with Ronaldo and Park scoring in the first 11 minutes there was no chance of progression. Fletcher was sent off for Man U on 74.

Charlie Buchan

Buchan started his career in 1909 with Woolwich Arsenal (later renamed Arsenal F.C.). He is known for his career with Sunderland, where he became leading scorer for 7 of his 9 seasons with the club. He remains the club's all-time record League goalscorer. He was a winner of the First Division title in 1913, and reached the 1913 FA Cup Final with Sunderland.

Buchan served with the infantry regiment, Sherwood Foresters, during the First World War and was awarded with the Military Medal for his service.

He re-joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1925, and saw the club to their first FA Cup final in 1927. Along with Herbert Chapman, Buchan was a pioneer of Arsenal's adoption of the WM formation, which brought significant success in the for the club in the 1930s. He was capped six times by the England National Football Team, scoring four goals. [3]

After retiring from football, Buchan became a football journalist with The Daily News - later renamed to News Chronicle. He also commentated for the BBC. In 1947, he co-founded the Football Writers' Association. From 1951, he edited his own football magazine - Charles Buchan's Football Monthly. [3]

Our History

Lowe’s has grown from a small-town hardware store in North Carolina to one of the largest home improvement retailers in the world. We have a rich heritage of putting the people we serve at the heart of everything we do. This is our story.

First General Store Opens

L.S. Lowe founds Lowe’s North Wilkesboro Hardware. In addition to hardware and building materials, the store sold sewing notions, dry goods, horse tack, snuff produce and groceries.

Jim Lowe Takes Helm

L.S. Lowe’s son, Jim Lowe, takes over the hardware store in 1940 after his father’s passing. Shortly thereafter, Lowe served in WWII and offered his brother-in-law, Carl Buchan, part ownership in the company.

Lowe’s of Today is Born

Anticipating the dramatic increase in construction after World War II, Lowe’s joint-owner Carl Buchan re-focuses the company solely on home improvement products.

Growth in North Carolina

Lowe’s opens its second store, in Sparta, N.C.

Leadership and Growth

With hopes of becoming a national chain, Carl Buchan becomes the sole owner of Lowe’s, ending his joint ownership with Jim Lowe. The Lowe's name, however, remains.

Growing Stronger

In 1958, Lowe’s reaches 344 associates. Lowe's then shifts focus from DIY customers to Pros.

Lowe’s Goes Public

Lowe’s becomes a publicly-traded company on October 10, 1961. Roughly 400,000 shares are sold at $12.25 per share on the first day of trading.

One Million

Lowe’s serves one million customers annually for the first time.

Welcome to NYSE

On December 19, Lowe’s is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

London Stock Exchange

Lowe’s is listed on the London Stock Exchange as of January 26, 1981.

One Billion

Lowe’s has its first billion-dollar sales year, earning a record profit of $25 million.

Best Company to Work For

Lowe’s is named a “Top 100 Best Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune Magazine.

Entering the Digital Age

In 1995, is launched, marking the company’s entrance into the digital market.

Supporting Associates

In 1999 the Lowe’s Employee Relief Fund is established to help associates through times of significant financial hardship.

Fortune 100

Lowe’s is named a “Top 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” by Fortune Magazine.

International Company

Lowe’s expands outside of the United States in 2007, opening its first stores in Canada in December.

Expanding to India

In 2015, Lowe’s continues its global approach to hardware and establishes an office in Bangalore, India.

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