Innerleithen, Tweeddale, Peeblesshire born John “Jock” Robson played as a goalkeeper despite only standing at 5’8”, and remains Arsenal’s smallest ever goalkeeper. Robson had served in the First World War with The 6th Seaforth Highlanders; after returning home he played for local side Vale of Leithen from 1919. In November 1921, Robson was signed by First Division Arsenal for £5, and initially was the club’s third-choice goalkeeper behind Ernest Williamson and Stephen Dunn. With little experience and his lack of height, he was never expected to be thrust into the first team, but after first Williamson and then Dunn suffered poor form, Robson made his Football League debut for Arsenal against Bolton Wanderers on 26th December 1922. Arsenal won 5-0 and Robson kept his place.
Robson played for the rest of the 1922-23 season, keeping twelve clean sheets in twenty matches, and he became an ever-present in the Arsenal side for the next season and a half; Arsenal were by no means a top side at this time, flirting dangerously with relegation in 1924 and 1925, but Robson’s athletic goalkeeping helped keep them up. However, after Welsh international Dan Lewis joined Arsenal in late 1924, Robson had to share goalkeeping duties with him,
Robson started the 1925-26 season as first-choice but after new Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman signed Bill Harper in November 1925, Robson’s days at Arsenal were numbered. He made his last first-team appearance in a 5-2 win against Manchester City on 7 November 1925. After spending the rest of the season in the reserves, Robson left Arsenal in August 1926 for Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic having made 101 appearances for The Gunners. He then spent 2 seasons at Dean Court, making 48 appearances before returning to Scotland in 1928 to join Montrose.
NB the photograph would have been taken in December 1923 when Huddersfield twice beat Arsenal in a week, winning 3-1 at Highbury and 6-1 at Leeds Road. It’s uncertain in which stadium this photograph was taken.