History: Who remembers Arsenal’s loyal 50’s star Danny Clapton?

Danny Clapton

If somebody mentioned the name Danny Clapton to you today you probably wouldn’t have heard of it, however the winger is one of the greatest players to have once run out of that famous Highbury Tunnel during the 1950s and early 1960s.

The proper team player and formidable assister Clapton, is regarded as the 34th top Gunner out of the best 50 players to play for Arsenal according to fans. He pulled on the famous shirt on 225 occasions finding the target 27 times.

Unfortunately during his spell in the first team at Arsenal he failed to attain a winner’s medal of some kind from 1954 to 1962, this was due to a lack of success on the field from the side that would go 17 years without winning a trophy from 1953 to 1970 until the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was lifted! The closest he came to winning the League was when Arsenal finished third during the 1958/59 First Division campaign under former Gunner, George Swindin.

Clapton’s most iconic moment in his career occurred on the 26th November 1958 when he pulled on his boots for two games in one day. To start off with Clapton featured in his one and only International match for England which finished 2-2 with Wales, before then returning to Highbury for a friendly fixture versus Juventus.

After spending four years at non-league team Leytonstone (1949-1953) Clapton fancied an upgrade so he contacted then manager Tom Whittaker and requested for a trial which he dually accepted. After making a good impression on Whittaker Clapton was slotted into the Junior levels to find his feet at the club and improve his skillset.

Come Christmas Day of 1954 Clapton would at last be picked to play in the first team making his debut against Chelsea which Arsenal narrowly won 1-0, with nearly just over 47,000 fans watching.

Within three years Danny’s now brother in arms Dennis signed for Arsenal alongside him as an amateur before he then transformed into a pro in 1958. Dennis lacked the talent and vision of Danny and would only be needed to play for Arsenal four times before departing in 1961 for Northampton Town. They were the third and most recent set of brothers to be selected for the Gunners.

After struggling to keep his place in the team between 1959 and 1961 due to the arrivals of Jackie Henderson and Alan Skirton after Johnny MacLeod was brought in Clapton was out officially.

In 1962 after a miserable few years Clapton left N5 and travelled up to Bedfordshire to play for Luton Town who would later get relegated from Division Two during his only season at Kenilworth Road.

Clapton was in need of a change and put pen to paper at Corinthians of Sydney in 1963 where he remained till 1970.

Once his playing days had finished Danny, an entrepreneur at heart as well as sportsman, brought a pub in Hackney East London turning his attention to hospitality.

Clapton is one of the most selfless players to appear for The Gunners in history. What a footballer what a gentlemen.

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  1. I remember Danny very well.Much better player than ever given credit for. He should have played for England many more times but he was never a blue eyed boy of the manager. Danny was a crowd favourite and took players on one to one which today is hardly ever seen. Thanks Danny for being so loyal and a gent.

  2. Yes, Danny Clapton was a wonderful winger and deserved more than a solitary England cap. I was at Highbury, with my friend John Neal, on that night in November ’58 when Arsenal beat Juventus 3 – 1. I think, if my memory is correct, Danny Clapton only played the 2nd half whereas Jack Kelsey played the whole game. Both players played in the International earlier in the day.


    A huge star to this then aged 7 year old boy. Another wonderful name from our rich and glorious history. Good memories though, Ad Pat!

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