The First League Hat-trick For Arsenal On This Day, 11th September 1893

Arsenal’s inaugural League campaign had not begun as well as might have been expected. Held at home in the opening match by Newcastle United, they had succumbed to a 2 – 3 defeat at Notts County. Walsall Town Swifts arrived at Plumstead on the back of consecutive defeats, 1 – 3 vs Birmingham and 0 – 5 at the hands of Burslem Port Vale. Their second season in the Football League had begun as inauspiciously as their first; something had to give.

And it did. Arsenal rose to the occasion to record their first win as a league club, comfortably easing past their visitors. It made the hat-trick scored by Joseph Heath all the more sweeter, the first by an Arsenal player in the Football League. Whether or not it is counted as the first in ‘competitive’ matches depends on your definition of those games. In the 11 – 0 demolition of Lyndhurst in October 1889, Scott and Barbour both bagged three whilst Elliott and Booth did likewise three years later in the 10 – 1 defeat of City Ramblers. Those games were FA Cup Qualifying Round matches and in some quarters are discounted; personally, I think they are competitive matches given the stature of the competition.

Heath’s career at the club was incredibly short, twelve games yielding seven goals. He dropped out of the first XI following a 0 – 5 home defeat to Liverpool, having scored six goals in seven games. Whether that was injury or selection choice, I know not. What is certain that he never appeared on a winning side again. Heath played five more times for the club, losing on each occasion. His final goal came in the 2 – 5 reverse at Lincoln City in Sam Hollis’ first game in charge on 1st September 1894.

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7 thoughts on “The First League Hat-trick For Arsenal On This Day, 11th September 1893

  1. No wonder they kept on losing… what a slovenly bunch of players. Slouching, some of them. Alex Song wouldn’t have been out of place in the photo..
    Bertie Mee – blazer, tie, grey slacks, shiny black shoes. Then Neill the same, and Graham same again.
    But what goes around comes around; cyclic. Nowadays they climb off the bus looking like hobos, with their earplugs dishing out Rap or Techno. I’m serious in what I say… no pride in appearance, total lack of discipline.

    Great bit of History, though. Big thanks.

  2. Heath is also famous for being the first player to score a penalty kick. This was for Wolves against Accrington on 14 September 1891. In that game he played alongside Charlie Booth and against Arthur Elliott who would both later go on to join Arsenal.

    Heath’s career is a strange one, and one that I think I will look more closely at. It looks like he was originally dropped to make way for Joseph Cooper. I may have also found a mistake in the official records which would result in Heath playing one less game for Arsenal.

    • Andy, I have to ask: is this Wolves man the same (Arsenal) man in your post? Many websites name the Wolves penalty taker as JOHN Heath, but make no reference to him ever playing for Arsenal. Though perhaps I haven’t surfed extensively enough.

      Interestingly, thewolvessite.co.uk/ name the penalty taker as JOSEPH Heath (could John be an abbreviated nickname?). Same date: 14 Sept 1891.

      Another website (sorry, forgot which) names the penalty taker as BILLY Heath. Same date: 14 Sept 1891.

      Not meaning to to be pernickity or pedantic; I do actually find it very interesting, as you do quite obviously, yourself).

      • It was Joseph Heath who was nicknamed “Billy”. I’ve been using http://www.enfa.co.uk which is a fantastic resource.

        One of the people that runs the website is Michael Joyce, an Arsenal fan, who published a book listing the statistics for every player to have played in the Football League prior to the Second World War. The only Heath that he has listed for Wolves is the same Joseph Frederick (Billy) Heath.

  3. Andy, I think I follow you.
    So… JOSEPH and BILLY are/is the same man.
    So, (I think) you’re suggesting that JOHN Heath (who appears on many sites as the 1st penalty taker ever) therefore is incorrectly named (???)

  4. Cheers Andy,
    OK, (now) certainly looks to be the same man. My earlier comment @ 10.07am: “(could John be an abbreviated nickname?)” may well be the case.

    Jack Kennedy is a common popular reference to John F. Kennedy (from wiki).

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