Charlie Buchan

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Charles Buchan
Buchan on a cigarette card issued in 1911
Personal information
Full name Charles Murray Buchan
Date of birth(1891-09-22)22 September 1891
Place of birth Plumstead, London, England
Date of death 25 June 1960(1960-06-25) (aged 68)
Place of death Monte Carlo, Monaco
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) [1]
Position(s) Centre forward
Senior career*
1909–1910 Woolwich Arsenal 0 (0)
1910–1911 Leyton [2]
1911–1925 Sunderland 379 (209)
1925–1928 Arsenal 102 (49)
National team
1913–1924 England 6 (4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Charles Murray Buchan (22 September 1891 – 25 June 1960) was an English footballer, sporting journalist and commentator. [3]


Buchan started his career in 1909 with Woolwich Arsenal (later renamed Arsenal F.C.). He is known for his career with Sunderland, where he became leading scorer for 7 of his 9 seasons with the club. He remains the club's all-time record League goalscorer. He was a winner of the First Division title in 1913, and reached the 1913 FA Cup Final with Sunderland.

Buchan served with the infantry regiment, Sherwood Foresters, during the First World War and was awarded with the Military Medal for his service.

He re-joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1925, and saw the club to their first FA Cup final in 1927. Along with Herbert Chapman, Buchan was a pioneer of Arsenal's adoption of the WM formation, which brought significant success in the for the club in the 1930s. He was capped six times by the England National Football Team, scoring four goals. [3]

After retiring from football, Buchan became a football journalist with The Daily News - later renamed to News Chronicle . He also commentated for the BBC. In 1947, he co-founded the Football Writers' Association. From 1951, he edited his own football magazine - Charles Buchan's Football Monthly. [3]

Playing career

Early career

Buchan first played as an amateur for local club Woolwich Arsenal, joining the club in December 1909. Whilst he impressed in reserve games, disagreements with manager George Morrell over his expenses caused Buchan to decline to sign a professional contract.

Buchan moved to Northfleet United as an amateur for the remainder of the 1909–10 season. He won Kent Senior Cup, Kent League and Thames and Medway Combination medals. In the close season he signed for Southern League club Leyton. [2] [4] He was spotted by Sunderland A.F.C. scouts in 1911, and was signed shortly after.

Sunderland and Wartime

A tall, elegant centre forward, Buchan was highly successful at the Wearside club. Sunderland won the 1912–13 First Division title and narrowly missed out on the Double - losing the FA Cup final 1–0 to Aston Villa. Frequently described as the best footballer in the country, Buchan was Sunderland's leading scorer for seven of his eight seasons at the club. This tally excludes the World War I seasons, when full competitive football was suspended. He is Sunderland's all-time record League goalscorer, with 209 goals. Buchan was also capped by England - his debut coming against Ireland on 15 February 1913.

During the First World War, Buchan served with the Grenadier Guards and then the Sherwood Foresters. [5] He was awarded the Military Medal and on 11 September 1918 was promoted to temporary second lieutenant for the final months of the war. [6]

In 1925, Buchan left Sunderland. He was replaced by Dave Halliday, who scored at least 35 league goals in his four full seasons at Sunderland, becoming the most prolific goals-to-games performer in the club's history. [7]

While at Sunderland, Buchan also played cricket for Durham in the 1920 Minor Counties Championship. [8]


Buchan was re-signed by Woolwich Arsenal. Sunderland manager Bob Kyle initially demanded a £4,000 fee, but Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman bargained him down to £2,000 plus £100 per goal scored by Buchan during his first season. Buchan made his debut in a North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur on 29 August 1925. He ultimately scored twenty-one, forcing Arsenal to pay £100 more than Kyle's original demand. [3] [9]

Just as important as his goals was his contribution to Arsenal's tactics. Along with Chapman, Buchan contributed to Arsenal's development of the WM formation to fully exploit the relaxation of the offside law. Buchan's idea was to move the centre half from a roaming position in midfield to a "stopper" position in defence, with one forward brought back into midfield. This meant the offside trap was no longer the responsibility of the two full-backs, but the single central defender, while the full backs were pushed wider to cover the wings. Eventually the change in tactic would bring Arsenal great success in the 1930s. [3] [9] [2] [10]

Buchan was a regular at Arsenal for three seasons. He captained Arsenal to their first ever Cup final in 1927, which they lost 1–0 to Cardiff City. Buchan finally retired at the end of 1927–28, having scored 16 league goals that season despite being 36 years of age. In all he scored 56 goals in 120 matches for Arsenal; his count of 257 goals in the League (which would have been more had the First World War not intervened) makes him the Football League's 33rd-highest goalscorer of all time. [3] [9]

Later career

After retiring, Buchan became a football journalist with Daily News which was later renamed News Chronicle. He also commentated for the BBC. In 1947, he co-founded the Football Writers' Association. From September 1951 until his death, he edited his own football magazine, Charles Buchan's Football Monthly.

He published his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football, in 1955. Buchan died in 1960, at the age of 68, whilst holidaying in Monte Carlo. [3]






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  1. "Charlie Buchan". England Football Online. Chris Goodwin & Glen Isherwood. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 Glanville, Brian. "Charlie Buchan's Heritage".
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Charlie Buchan". Spartacus
  4. Harris, Jeff & Hogg, Tony (ed.) (1995). Arsenal Who's Who. Independent UK Sports. p. 61. ISBN   1-899429-03-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. "Charles Murray Buchan | Service Record | Football and the First World War". Football and the First World War. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  6. "No. 30916". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 September 1918. p. 11333.
  7. "Dave Halliday profile on "Queens Legends" on the official Queen of the South FC website". Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  8. "Player profile: Charlie Buchan". CricketArchive. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  9. 1 2 3 "Charlie Buchan".
  10. "Charlie Buchan; From Sunderland To The Somme". Ryehill
  11. "Huddersfield Town legend Clem Stephenson to enter football's Hall of fame". 18 September 2010.