Tuesday, 29 May 2012
What we can be fairly safe in saying is that it was certainly in the East Midlands - in the first half of the 1890's Arthur played for Burton St. Edmunds, Tutbury Hampton and Burton Wanderers. It was with the latter that he first appeared in the Football League, in the Second Division in 1895. However Wanderers lost their league status at the end of the 1896-97 season and this led to a move across the Midlands to Small Heath, the club we know today as Birmingham City. He remained there until 1902, playing over 150 games. In the consecutive seasons of 1898-1899 and 1899-1900 he missed only one league match, and helped the club to a second place finish in the Second Division in 1901.
A slightly more nomadic few years followed, with time at New Brompton (later to become Gillingham), non league Wingfield House, QPR (significantly in the story as to why he later became a Citizen) and Tottenham Hotspur (where he played in eight friendlies and London League matches).
Arthur Archer signed for Norwich City in the summer of 1905. He was a stocky right back, big and beefy whose general style could best be described as hard and without nonsense. He was certainly effective. During his time at City, we had a good side defensively, with Punch McEwen, who debuted on the same day, in the other full back role. Once more, Archer had a great capacity for staying fit, and was virtually an ever present during his two seasons in the blue and white shirt of the Citizens. His first appearance came on the 2nd of September 1905, in the club's first ever official professional game, at Plymouth Argyle in the Southern League. His first goal (one of eleven in 83 matches in all competitions for Norwich) was scored on the 4th of November against his old club New Brompton.
In 1905-06, City managed a very creditable seventh place finish, with Arthur playing in thirty of the thirty four contests. In 1906-07, he missed just one Southern League match, at Luton in the October, as the team ended the campaign just one place lower in eighth. On four occasions he captained the side in the absence of McEwen, and also played in eleven United League games, three of them as skipper. His last appearance as a Citizen was on the 27th of April 1907, in the 2-1 win over Watford at Newmarket Road.
Arthur Archer had been brought to Norwich by manager John Bowman. At the time his signature was much sought after by Southern League clubs but the fact he had played in the same defence as Bowman just a few years earlier at Queens Park Rangers was no doubt a major influence. Unfortunately they left together too. Bowman resigned in the summer of 1907, and Archer moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion, as did another fine Citizen of the day, Duncan Ronaldson. Our broad shouldered full back stayed on the south coast for just one season, before ending his playing days at Millwall Athletic in 1908-09. Upon retirement he coached at various times in Germany, Belgium, and Italy and was known to be a trainer at Watford FC in the early to mid 1920's. He passed away in 1940, and will always be recorded in the annals of Norwich City as a pioneer of our great club.