Wilson Alex Image 2 Arsenal 1936


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Wishaw, Lanarkshire born goalkeeper Alex Wilson starting at junior club Overton Rangers in 1925 and joined Scottish League club Greenock Morton in 1927. He spent six seasons at the ‘Ton, and was in the side that won promotion to the Scottish First Division in 1928-29.

In May 1933 he was signed by Arsenal, initially as cover for Frank Moss. He made his Football League debut against Aston Villa on 10th March 1934 after Moss picked up an injury in a match Arsenal won 3-2. Wilson remained a fringe player in his first two seasons for Arsenal, playing only fifteen times, including the last nine games of the 1934-35 season after Moss dislocated his shoulder – although Arsenal won the League Championship, Wilson did not qualify for a medal.

Moss’s injury did not heal and Wilson found himself as the Gunners’ No. 1 throughout the 1935-36 season; he played 43 matches that season and kept goal in that season’s FA Cup Final against Sheffield United, which Arsenal won 1-0 with a Ted Drake goal. He also played in the October 1935 FA Charity Shield defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. However, Wilson’s performances were not strong enough for manager George Allison’s liking, and Arsenal signed not one but two goalkeepers that summer, George Swindin and Frank Boulton.

Wilson only played two matches in 1936-37, and ten in 1937-38, a season in which Arsenal won the League Championship once again, but Wilson again missed out on a medal. He looked to have become the club’s third-choice goalkeeper; nevertheless he stayed on, and after Boulton was sold in 1938 Wilson and Swindin shared the goalkeeper’s jersey for 1938-39, with Wilson playing 22 and Swindin 22 matches that season. However, in September 1939 the outbreak of the Second World War intervened, and competitive football was halted. Wilson returned to Scotland in 1941, joining St Mirren. In all he played 90 matches for Arsenal.

He later had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion, playing a single Third Division (South) match at Bristol Rovers in September 1947. After retiring from playing Wilson pursued a career s a trainer and physiotherapist, starting out at Brighton before going to work for Birmingham City, Sunderland and Blackpool, as well as Kent County Cricket Club.

NB In the photograph taken after the 1936 FA Cup Final triumph at Wembley, Wilson is far right in the white goalkeeping kit, with (l-r) Tom Whittaker (trainer), Eddie Hapgood, Alex James, Joe Hulme and George Allison (manager).

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