On this day in 1922, Bob John signed for Arsenal from Caerphilly.
The defender moved to London from his Welsh club in 1922 and went on to make a massive 470 appearances for Arsenal during his 15 years at the club. Only 10 other players have made more during Arsenal’s entire history.
Bob John was originally signed by Leslie Knighton, who was Arsenal manager between 1919 – 1925, for £750.
Although John would go down as Knighton’s most successful signing, he didn’t make his debut until 28 October when Arsenal lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle. After this, he took over the no.6 shirt from Tom Whittaker and featured 24 more times in the league that season. However, during the next campaign, he only played 15 appearances in total.
After Knighton got the sack and Herbert Chapman took over in 1925, John really hit his stride. Chapman’s Arsenal were a dominant force in English football, particularly in the 1930s, winning the First Division title in 1931 and 1933, the FA Cup in 1930 and the Charity Shield in 1930, 1931 and 1933.
Bob John became a senior player and huge part of the team, even scoring in the cup final in 1932, although we lost 2-1 against Newcastle.
In total, the left-back, who was also good as a left-half, scored 13 goals. He also, rather impressively, made 15 total appearances for Wales, which was unusual considering, in those days, players rarely made more than about three international appearances per season.
In 1931, Bob John would beat the club appearance record, previously held by Percy Sands (327).
After dropping down to the reserves and working as an adviser to the younger players, in 1938, Bob John left Arsenal and joined West Ham’s coaching staff, before teaming up with former Gunner, Jack Butler, at Torquay United. The two former players then went to Crystal Palace in 1947 with Bob John taking up the role as trainer.
In 1950, the ex-defender returned to Torquay United for a brief spell but, unfortunately, it wasn’t successful.
Bob John passed away on 17 July, 1982.