A tribute to Cliff Bastin – A True Highbury Hero



Born 14th March 1912 – Died 4th December 1991

Club Details for league only.

Exeter City – 1928-1929 making 17 appearances and 6 goals.

Arsenal – 1929-1947 making 350 appearances and scoring 150 goals.

England International details.

1931 – 1938 making 21 appearances and scoring 12 goals.


It was Herbert Chapman who brought the 17-year-old to the famous Arsenal when he signed him at the end of the 1928-29 season. The rumour goes that Herbert had gone to the Exeter/Watford game, to look at a Watford player, but was so impressed by this young man, he made the decision to sign him from that one game.

Cliff made his debut on the 5th October 1929 against Everton and made 21 first team appearances in his first season.

From then, until the outbreak of the second world war, “Boy Bastin” as he was nicknamed, played over 35 games each season…the “Boy” monicker came about because of his youthful looks, but he was only 27 when the war signalled a hold on football as a profession.

Because of his accuracy and deadly finishing, Cliff became our regular penalty taker, seeing him as our third biggest goal scorer of all time. It was Arsenal’s style of play that saw both wingers bursting into the penalty area, usually supplied with passes from a certain Alex James.

However, following many injuries suffered by Alex, Cliff was moved into the inside left position and when James recovered, Cliff was then given the job of covering for another injured player, Jack Crayston, at right half – note this was on his “weaker” side, but such was his strength, he was considered good enough to cover even that position.

He regained the left-wing position during the 1937-38 title winning season and scored 17 goals. However, the following season, it was his turn to suffer a long-term injury in 1938-39 and he only played a handful of games that campaign.

It is remarkable to think that Cliff’s tally of 178 goals made him the record goal scorer for the Gunners, until 1997, when Ian Wright overtook him in 2005 and then Thierry Henry of course.

However, it was the 150 league goals that only Henry could better and that came on the 14th January 2006 – what an outstanding feat, when one considers the great strikers that our club has seen and the fact that his personal career was interrupted for six years during the second world war.

Listed below are his honours at The Arsenal:

League winners medal – 1930/31 – 1932/33 -1933/34 – 1934/35 – 1937/38

FA Cup winners medal – 1929/30 -1935/36

FA Charity Shield – 1930 – 1931 – 1933 – 1934 -1938

The second world war interrupted his football legacy at the age of 27, but he was excused military service due to him failing the army hearing test. He served as an ARP Warden stationed on top of Highbury Stadium, alongside Tom Whittaker, a future Arsenal manager of course.

A really bizarre, but true, story is that the fascist Italian propaganda machine broadcast that Cliff had been captured, obviously completely unaware that he was standing on top of the Highbury stadium – such was the power of his name, when an hostile country felt it desirable to say they had captured a football icon for propaganda purposes!!!!!

It was the injury in the 1938/39 campaign that was the cause of his retirement in January 1947, only having played just seven more games, without scoring, for our club and, as it happens, the first of Tom Whittaker’s as manager of The Arsenal.

He returned to Exeter and ran a pub – he died in 1991 at the age of 79 and Exeter honoured him by naming one of their stands at St. James’s Park the Cliff Bastin Stand – The Arsenal have honoured him by including his name amongst the murals of great players around our Emirates stadium, along with a personal profile and quotes regarding his achievements.

Cliff was married to Joan and had two daughters, Patricia and Barbara. Joan survived him by over 20 years, dying in 2012 at the age of 96, so was able to see the tributes made to her husband by both clubs.

My thanks again to Wikipedia for the information on this remarkable goal scoring and versatile Arsenal legend – I would have loved to have seen him play at Highbury, but we do have some film footage of him to look back at, with great pride, wearing our famous Arsenal shirt.

Cliff Bastin was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2009, another honour his wife and children were able to witness – A True Highbury Hero.



  1. Robert Acedius says:

    David Jack, Alex James – and Cliff Bastin. Thank you.

  2. ThirdManJW says:

    As much as I dislike ken1945, I am enjoying these articles on our older players, and in some cases, forgotten legends.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Does that mean you won’t be taking up my offer of going to the Emirates, using my season ticket then TMJW, if and when you return home?

    2. jon fox says:

      If you really mean your spiteful comment about the humane and splendid Ken , which sadly for you I believe you do, then I truly pity you. I should be glad to have someone with YOUR life views dislike me though, or any stronger word you choose too.

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        The reason I dislike him so much is because he made slanderous comments saying I was happy about Ozil getting attacked at knife point. When I called him out on it, he didn’t even apologize.

        So think what you will of me, but hopefully my reasoning makes some sense, and that I have shed some light on what type of character ken1945 can be at times.

        Will be interesting to see your response jon fox, and what you’ll say to ken1945, especially during this morality crusade you’ve been on lately. I would hate to think you support despicable slander!

        1. ThirdManJW says:

          As we know jon fox, they’re not the same, influenza has massively higher death toll attached to it. All I have been doing is pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of your argument.

          You pour scorn on anyone who dares to have football back, because it could cost lives, yet the thousands that will die from influenza, just so we can go down the pub, watch some football, go to the cinema, etc, means nothing!

          Hypocrisy of the highest order!

          So you don’t condemn slander? Interesting? You just lost all credibility, and are clearly not a person of morals then!

    3. ozziegunner says:

      ThirdManJW, I am greatly disappointed in your comment regarding ken1945; I thought better of you.

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        The reason I dislike him so much is because he made slanderous comments saying I was happy about Ozil getting attacked at knife point. When I called him out on it, he didn’t even apologize.

        So think what you will of me, but hopefully my reasoning makes some sense, and that I have shed some light on what type of character ken1945 can be at times.

        1. Ken1945 says:

          Let’s just put a stop to this right now.

          TMJW, if you remember, we were at cross purposes with our question and answering debate on Ozil and the confusion arose because, as sometimes happens when not speaking directly to each other, our replies were misinterpreted.

          If my memory serves me well, I asked you twice to clarify your remarks and you insisted that he should go.

          I feel it was a genuine mistake from both sides and, for my part, I realised that and offered you a chance to visit the Emirates – sadly you had already left for Australia.

          I took your remark with a pinch of salt and glad to hear you like the article – now can we all move on PLEASE?

          1. Admin Martin says:

            I concur, let’s not allow this to get too personal please gentlemen, far too much of that on here these days.

            If you do not all start being civil to each other I will do an Ozil opinion piece wrapped up on why it was a mistake to sell Iwobi linked to why it is imperative that football restarts and that Wenger should have been fired eight years ago.

            Then I will close the article to comments and sit back and watch you all have a meltdown on other articles.

            OK, I jest but please chaps discuss the article, it is quality.

            Finally, ThirdManJW, timing my friend is an art form and sometimes you miss your timing.

          2. ken1945 says:

            Martin, not sure what your coded message is meant to imply regarding “timing”?

            Care to explain what you are inferring to?

          3. Admin Martin says:

            I felt his comments were ill-timed. I do not recall when the pair of you had a disagreement but it appears it was months ago and so I did not see the need for it to be rehashed now. Jon Fox made a false statement today, he has not retracted it, I have asked him once and reminded him once because it is now, it is current, I would not bring it up in six months time, what would the point be. That is what I mean by timing. Thought that was self-evident.

          4. ken1945 says:

            Martin, obviously it wasn’t to me and I thank you for your reply.

          5. ThirdManJW says:

            Yes I am fine to drop it Admin Martin, but for a long time ken1945, and Dan kit were just attacking me for anything I said! Which ultimately led to ken1945’s slanderous comment! You’ll notice it’s almost always starts with them commenting on what I say, not the other way around. I tried to get away from them ages ago, but they won’t leave me alone!

            I’ll admit my timing wasn’t great, given it was a good article, and has been a good series of articles from ken1945 lately.

            We all perceive facts in different ways I guess, and have our own opinions, which can lead to heated debates, but I don’t ever slander people. That is why I have zero respect for ken1945.

            I am so happy to leave it, as I have been for a long time, I just hope they finally leave me alone.

          6. Admin Martin says:

            I think you are doing a fine job standing up for yourself.

  3. SueP says:

    Thanks for your excellent piece about Cliff Bastin. Just think how much more he could have achieved without the war. My mum chose a worthy name when naming my brother after him.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Soory it spilled over into something else SueP, especially as you had asked for the article.

      having done it, I can’t seem to get the image of Cliff and Tom standing on top of the stands during world war two!!!

      Really enjoyed doing the article.

  4. ozziegunner says:

    Cliff Bastin is one of many great sportsmen and women, whose sporting careers were either disrupted or finished by World War II.

  5. Glorious says:

    What a beautiful write up. I am also informed. Please keep it up @ Ken 1945 but be humble.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Glorious, with a name like that and you ask me to be humble? 😁😁😁
      Seriously though, when I look into the lives and careers of these great footballers, one is automatically humbled my friend – I just enjoy educating myself about our great club and it’s players.

  6. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Another brilliant piece by Ken1945, TMJW you should be ashamed of yourself young man for attacking an honourable man like Ken, I say “young man” because your behaviour is that of a child. Should imagine the Italian propaganda was in retaliation for Cliff destroying them at “The Battle of Highbury” in 1934 when an England side with seven Arsenal players defeated World Champion Italy. He’s wonderful collection of honours would have been more impressive had there been a European Cup in those days. With Arsenal arguably the best club side in the world during the whole of the 1930’s he’d surely have had 5 or 6 under his belt

    1. ken1945 says:

      Thanks for the remarks regarding the article Kenny and your thoughts regarding the “Battle of Highbury” had completely slipped my thought processing I have to admit.

      Seven Arsenal players in one international team defeating the world champions – all going back to Sir Henry Norris and Herbert Chapman of course.

      I just wonder what Cliff’s goalscoring tally would have been if not for those missing world war two years Kenny?

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Ian Wright beat his record of 184 goals but although his playing career was cut short he still played over 350 games for Arsenal. The thing is he started so young at 17 and as you say was 27 when the Second World War broke out. Must say what an achievement for a winger.

  7. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Why has the excellent post by Pat about our first happiest memories of Highbury been so quickly take down especially when the 1-0 win against West Ham, Cedric Soares and lots of others remain months after they were written. Its ridiculous

    1. Admin Martin says:

      Care to explain Kenny as I have no idea what you mean

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Surely the post is easy to understand Martin. Yesterday or maybe the day before I wrote an article about the happiest day you had at Highbury, ask Pat, he posted it. if you go back to the home page an article about the 1-0 win over West Ham is still there and another about Cedric Soares months after they were written

        1. Admin Martin says:

          Obviously not easy to understand otherwise I would not have asked. Everything is categorised on the front page, so opinion pieces will be turned over regularly because we write opinion pieces each day. Under say Match previews posts would stay up much longer and would only move down when the next match preview is added. It is purely to do with categorising and so transfer gossip piece or opinion pieces will always move off the front page each day.

          1. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Martin, you tell me you have no idea what I mean when I referred to the West Ham post and the Cedric Soares post that have been up there for the past 3 months and then suddenly take them down today. How convenient.

          2. Admin Martin says:

            Kenny, Pat read your comments and Pat made changes to the front page. It had absolutely nothing at all to do with me in any form. You have an issue with posts being up or down, on the front page or not then take it up with Pat. I have zero control over the layout, design, categories or anything. You asked a question, I had no clue what you was talking about, you clarified, I then explained how the front page works. I was just trying to be helpful towards you. That is it, nothing more nothing less. I have never ever removed or moved a post, I do not have that authority. Hope that clarifies it even more.

          3. Admin Pat says:

            Hey Kenny, that was indeed me. I thought you made a valid point about the old posts on the front page (but to be fair, there have not been many match previews or reports lately), so I did a bit of organizing on the front page. I’m not sure why everyone seems to be picking on Martin over every little thing lately (or even why reorganizing the front page is a big thing either!).
            It was a good suggestion, and I dealt with it. Can we get o0n with our lives now please?

  8. Russell Morgan says:

    Another great article ken, looking forward to the next gunners legend.

  9. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Pat, I wasn’t having a go at Martin at all. As part of the Admin I just asked why a post, that was actually written by you, that I replied to and was hoping to see some response, was taken down so quickly when others had been up there for months. It was just a question.. As regards one or two digs at Martin on these pages recently may have had something to do with his recent post when he said anyone that likes Ozil should stop supporting the club or words to that affect which I’m sure you’ll agree was a mistake.

    1. Admin Martin says:

      I can answer this one Kenny. That post was not a mistake and I stand by every single word. Hope that clarifies that for you.

  10. ken1945 says:

    The other side of the coin, of course, is that those who do not support the manager and his choice of players should stop supporting the club – in actual fact they already are of course, but don’t let that cloud the issue of such a silly statement about fellow Gooners.

    Each to their own opinion of course, but when one challenges another’s right to support a player and says he/she should stop supporting a club…make no mistake Martin, that was a big mistake as the furore that followed proved.

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