Where are they now? Arsenal’s much-maligned Jon Sammels



BORN: 23RD July 1945



Jon (as he was known by us Gooners) joined the club in 1961, having been a supporter of the club since childhood.

Once again, I have to mention Peter Simpson, as he was a fellow East Anglian and Jon followed him to the club and played in the same team for quite a few seasons.

After playing exclusively in the reserves for the first two seasons, Jon made his first team debut on 27th April 1963, scoring against Blackpool in the process.

But this did not herald a regular first team place and, in fact, he made only two appearances in 1963-64 and none at all in 1964-65, but this could be explained by two names, George Eastham and Geoff Strong.

He was patient however and this was rewarded the next season and that followed a complete first team season in 1966-67.

He played in the humiliating League cup defeat by Swindon Town in 1968 and then another cup final defeat in the same tournament the following season, 1969, this time by Leeds United.

It was the following year that Jon finally tasted Cup Final success, when we beat Anderlecht in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, scoring the winning goal.

The final whistle caused scenes at Highbury that, for those of us lucky enough to be there, will remain forever in our memories.

It was an overwhelming outburst of relief, wonder and pure joy that we had come from 3-1 down in the first leg to claim the cup with a 4-3 aggregate win.

Then came the double in 1970-71 and although Jon had played enough games to earn a medal, he suffered a bad ankle injury, and this saw him struggle to regain his place.

In actual fact, he played no part in the cup final and, it seemed that, with George Graham taking over his role, his time at our club was coming to an end.

He handed in a transfer request and was sold to Leicester City for £100,000 and had a career with the Foxes that went from 1971 to 1978, with 265 appearances and 25 goals.

His complete stats for The Arsenal read 270 games played and 52 goals scored.

He was never awarded a full English cap but made seven appearances for the England youth side and nine appearances for the England U23 team, scoring one goal.

As one can see, an exceptionally long and distinguished career – but he divided opinion amongst The Arsenal fans and was a regular target for those looking for a scapegoat during matches.

He had an incredibly strong and accurate shot and was a team player who loved The Arsenal, but he and David Price were the players who took the brunt of fans who feel they support the club by booing them!!!

A quote from Bob Wilson reads “Jon was my room-mate and the night before the FA Cup final, he was seriously choked up.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for him to miss out on the climax to the Double season, after he’d been at Highbury all those years.

“You hate to hear one of your team-mates receiving criticism from the crowd.

“Fans have a much bigger influence on players than they think.”

After his career ended, Jon started work as a driving instructor and retired from that in the 2000’s. It seems he still lives in the Leicester area.

Looking back at players such as Jon and David Price, it reminds me of how a player can be targeted by a minority of “fans” (as is their right of course) and it isn’t a new phenomenon.

The difference is, back in those days the players took it, they didn’t swear and kick water bottles all over the place!!

Just digesting what Bob Wilson had to say shows how unproductive these fans really are and I take my hat off to Jon for putting up with the abuse for so long.

Thanks for the memories Jon.


Thanks to “The Story of Arsenal” by Jon Spurling, www.Arsenal.com, Untold Arsenal and Wikipedia for information gleaned.


  1. Well Done Ken.

    Can you imagine a player from Arsenal today retiring and becoming a taxi driver or a driving instructor? I think not.

    In 71 were we still playing with the no reserve rule in place?
    I believe that rule cost us the 52 Final when Wally Barnes broke a leg.
    I read that someone told him the leg break would make him the most remembered player of that final.

    It was long before my Arsenal going but I know the name!

    Who is next?

  2. Where would we addicts be in this bleak times without Kens tonic of fascinating articles to read. GREAF STUFF ONCE AGAIN KEN AND KEEP IT GOING PLEASE. I always put the much and rather unfairly maligned SAMMELS in a totally different class to the markedly inferior David Price, who was IMO little more than an Arsenal journeyman. Not so for Sammels though, who was unlucky not to have a full cap or several.

  3. Next on the list is George Armstrong and I have trepidations that I won’t do him justice and then, by request Alan Sunderland.

    1. Ken We had a “trepidation” once in our house. When it died we buried it in the garden! We used to feed it on doubts and hesitations!

    1. No problem Ken I stole a moment from work time and checked a book (sometimes quicker than online) and it was Kelly for Story and of course as you know Kelly scoring the 1st goal.

      I thought your history lives was of the Mee- Howe time.

      Alan Sunderland time is the Neil – Howe years.

      But why not. We have had some cup goals in our all too short life of Arsenal’s history but that was ‘one goal’

      I believe I am right in saying that Arsenal played more games that season than any other top flight club has played in one season.

      i want to write more but back to the grind.

      1. Snowden, that’s the beauty of being retired and in self isolation with the wife!!!!

        There are so many players who I could look up, but I think Armstrong, Sunderland and Alan Skirton will be the lot, unless I get “requests”.

        1. Anything for another good read and for free at that.

          Please give us the low down on ……….. but first a question.

          Who are the only two Arsenal people who played for the club, were then first team coach and and later manager?

          Ken the low down please on the second of these two.

          Thank you..

          1. Would that be Don Howe snowden?

            Are you asking for an article on Don snowden – glad to oblige if you want.

          1. Sue P. Your brother was named after him? I should hope so too or your brother would be pretty ancient, if he were named BEFORE Boy Bastin.

        2. Ok KEN, THEN YOU DO HAVE A REQUEST!HOW ABOUT ALL OUR KEEPERS ! The whole load of our regular players from the 60’s and 70’s decades not yet covered. Unfair? OF COURSE, but what else would you expect from ME! How about all our regular keepers from those decades. Plus Baker, Eastham and Strong, even Bily Wright, the Joy Beverley Years from 62 -66 when he “resigned”(sorry Ken, but I couldn;t resist that tease). Why not widen it to include managers , Whittaker, Swindin, Allison etc! Oh, and Bob Wall! The younger fans won’t have a clue about any of them!

    1. O.K. two more, one on Cliff Bastin and Don Howe it is!!

      They will follow Skirton and Sunderland my fellow gooners – I really am enjoying this!!!

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