Charles Buchan had started on the books of Woolwich Arsenal but left in 1910 to play for Leyton.
In March 1911 he signed for Sunderland for £1200 and went on to score 209 league goals in 370 games either side of the war, he is still Sunderland’s record goalscorer. He won the League Championship with Sunderland in 1913 although was a Cup Final loser that year to Aston Villa, and was top scorer in 7 of the 8 seasons he played with them.
In 1925 aged 34 he signed for Arsenal, scoring 49 goals in just over 100 league games, and was again a losing Cup Finalist in 1927 when he captained Arsenal in their never forgotten defeat to Cardiff City, notable of course for the fact that it’s still the only time a non English team has won the FA Cup.
He also won 6 England caps scoring 4 times between February 1913, he scored inside 10 minutes, and 1924. He is also remembered for his journalism and eponymous football magazine and publications. He also played cricket for Kent.
What strikes about Buchan is his physical presence when you see him in photographs. He looks as strong as an ox and at 6 foot is normally notably taller and more athletic looking than his team mates. That is obvious looking at the Youtube link of the 1927 Final alone, by which time he was 10 years past his physical peak.
His overall contribution to English football as a player and journalist, forgetting his outstanding career, make him an obvious choice for the Heroes list.
Discussion in ‘Pure Football’ started by The Colonel, Dec 31, 2012
From Sunderland to the Somme
Charlie Buchan was one of the all time Sunderland greats, and pre war perhaps the finest striker England produced. He stood an impressive 6ft tall and weighed in at 12st 3lbs.
Born at Plumstead in London he started his career with the Northfield club before moving to Leyton Orient having previously left Arsenal in a row over expenses. Signed by manager Bob Kyle for Sunderland on 21 March 1911 for £1,200, he was just 21 when he played in the 1913 FA Cup Final.
He was an all round sportsman and had played Cricket for Kent.
His favoured position on the football field was inside right, and many said that his playing style reminded them very much of the Corinthians, praise indeed for such a fine club. He gained representative honours with England, making his debut against the Irish, and twice played against the Scottish League.
His England debut was in Belfast on 15 February 1913, and alongside him were his Sunderland colleagues Jackie Mordue and Frank Cuggy, the Sunderland Triangle. “Perpetual Motion” was its other name. Typically Buchan scored after 10 minutes; old habits die hard at any level.
The game was memorable for all the wrong reasons, Ireland’s first victory over England in a full international 2 v 1.
Strangely enough, having parents who were both Aberdonians he was asked to play for Scotland in 1912. He declined, as having been born in Woolwich he wanted to play for England.
His second inter league game resulted in a 4 v 1 defeat by Scotland in Glasgow, but Buchan had the fortune to be up against some class players. Bobby Walker the Heart of Midlothian inside right and outside left Alex Smith of Glasgow Rangers left Buchan an admirer.
He tells of how on his first trip abroad with the league side he travelled 36 hours on a train to Budapest. Arriving in the hotel all the players snuck out of the hotel and spent the entire night in the best nightclub that the Hungarian capital had to offer. The team triumphed 9 v 0!
His first game at Hampden Park for his country had been in front of a then world record crowd, some 127,307 in a 1 v 1 draw. The match ended up a duel between the England right back Bob Crompton and the Celtic outside left Jimmy Quinn. Buchan stood in fascinated awe.
At the end of the 1911/12 season Buchan went on holiday to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and whilst there was invited to play football for a local team. That he did, with a knotted handkerchief tied round his head to prevent sunstroke, and assisted them in reaching the final. But back home a photograph of Buchan in a distinctive yellow and black striped shirt reached Roker Park and he was carpeted by Manager Bob Kyle.
Buchan considered Sam Hardy of Aston Villa the finest goalkeeper he ever played against and was proved right as the Villa man kept Sunderland at bay in the 1913 FA Cup final at Crystal Palace. To place Buchan’s popularity into perspective some of our older fans who saw him play can recall a chap who used to carry a board around the perimeter of the field that said “Buchan Playing Today”.
By the end of his Sunderland career, which had lasted some 15 years (4 years lost to the war), he was the only red and white to score 200 league goals. Having played some 380 league games he was transferred to Arsenal in July 1925. He had just opened up a sports outfitters business when he was allowed to speak to the legendary Arsenal and ex Leeds City Manager Herbert Chapman, and much to his dismay he left. It was at Arsenal that he was instrumental in devising the WM formation in response to the 2 man offside law. He finished his career on 5 May 1928 at Goodison Park in a 3 v 3 draw against The Toffees, a Game in which Dixie Dean scored a hat trick.
During the War he played soccer for the Guards Depot before turning out for Chelsea, but this didn’t last long. He also had spells playing for both Birmingham and Huddersfield Town. When the war ended he of course returned to Sunderland, who had retained his professional registration. Prior to league football starting again he had taken up a teaching position at Cowan Terrace School.
Buchan went on to become both a Broadcaster and a Journalist with his Football Monthly magazine.