It was not unusual in the 1930s for First Division clubs to have arrangements with a non-league counterpart for developing players, Northfleet were Tottenham’s nursery club for example.
Arsenal had links with Margate before this; Gerry Keizer, a Dutch goalkeeper from Ajax, played for the East Kent club in 1930 before moving to Arsenal and becoming the first European player in the Football League.
According to the history of Margate FC, George Allison had a daughter at a local school and the ties were built through friendships in the area. More information can be found in the Soccer History magazine’s article.
Whilst the financial equivalent of £5,000 today is £1.5m, the English record still stood for the signing of David Jack by Arsenal for £10,890. For a true comparison it would be around £15m, making Milne more of an Arshavin than a Gervinho.
The complication comes with Tony Matthews Who’s Who of Arsenal, quoting a fee of £1,500 which seems more realistic. Arsenal may have been England’s wealthiest club at the time but it is scarcely credible that they would have written off such an expensive transfer so quickly.
Milne played 54 times for the club, pulling in a decent return of 19 goals. He left the club unexpectedly, signing for Middlesbrough eighteen months later for a £5,000 fee.
Demands from supporters for activity in the transfer market is nothing new. In those days, the transfer window was something that the troubled continental clubs; English clubs could sign anyone between June and March which prodivided plenty of opportunity to scout players, find those who would strengthen the squad, fill gaps with their technical ability and prowess and drive the squad on to glory.
George Graham thought Eddie McGoldrick was the perfect fit for that criteria. If someone asked you to describe a typical late-era Graham signing, the Republic of Ireland international would be the player you describe; hard-working and erm, that’s probably it.
This was probably the highlight of McGoldrick’s immensely talentless career (about 8’19 on the video). If you think that a harsh judgement, just remember that the Irish international said he would not cross the road to p*ss on an Arsenal fan if he were on fire.
So, Eddie McGoldrick. Everything that went wrong with George Graham’s reign summed up in one player.
Little wonder the offer from the Colombian club was appealing to Alex Forbes. Millonarios were offering a deal in excess of £500k in today’s money, beyond comparison in English football at the time. It would have been a short trip though. Twelve months later, Fifa expelled the Colombian FA from membership meaning that all expat players left the club in the coming years.
One of those was Alfredo di Stefano, which would have been some tale for Forbes to tell. As it was, he remained at Arsenal to add another League title to the one won in 1948 and a runners-up medal in the FA Cup to accompany the triumph over Liverpool a month or so earlier. Forbes is the last surviving member of that team. At a time when there were only two major competitions, his 240 appearances for the club emphasizes his importance to the team at the time.