Charles Buchan was a pivotal figure in the success of Arsenal in the 1930s. He had retired by then but his groundwork as a tactical foil to Herbert Chapman kick-started the club’s Golden Age.
Sunderland wanted £4,000 pounds for his transfer but Arsenal persuaded the Wearsiders to part with his company for £2,000 plus £100 per goal in his first season. The total fee paid ended up as £4,100 as Buchan scored 21 goals in his debut season. Reproduced below is a Times editorial which questions whether the structure of the deal was ethically correct, wondering if any sense of obligation toward Sunderland would overtake his sense of team-play. It strikes me as looking at the situation from the wrong angle; it seems more likely that were Buchan so minded about his fee, he would not have scored as many goals and saved his current employers money.
It was a costly transfer as the young Buchan had been on Woolwich Arsenal’s books as an amateur according to the club. His obituaries noted that he was a member of the Woolwich Polytechnic side in 1909. He left Arsenal following confrontations with George Morrell over expense payments, never having appeared for the first XI.
Sixteen years later and having scored 209 goals for Sunderland in 370 games, he returned home. He was another footballer turned cricketer, appearing for Durham whilst a Sunderland player. The county was then a member of the Minor Counties Championship.
At Arsenal, he never lifted any trophies as captain but was a member of the losing 1927 FA Cup Final side against Cardiff City. He continued his freescoring at the club, notching 56 goals in 120 appearances.
He retired from football at the end of the 1927-28 season before launching a successful journalism and publishing career. His magazine, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, continued long after his death.