Alf Fields

Alf Fields spent 16 years at Highbury but a combination of World War II, knee trouble and Leslie Compton restricted his appearances for Arsenal.

A tall, powerful centre back, Alf signed professional terms in 1937 but had to wait two more years for his first-team debut. That came in a 1-0 defeat at Blackpool.

Compton's presence in the Arsenal side meant chances were few and far between for Alf but he did manage 19 appearances for the senior side and played his part in the 1947/48 title success. He played in each of the six first League games that season and Arsenal won them all. But Compton's return forced Alf onto the sidelines once more.

Although he had to settle for a place on the fringes of the first-team, Alf was a regular for the Reserves. He made 110 appearances in the London Combination and helped the second string lift their League title twice.

A persistent knee injury ended Alf's playing career in September 1952 but he did not cut his ties with the Club. Alf became the coach of Arsenal's junior teams and eventually served the Club for more than 47 years before retiring in November 1983.

He returned to Highbury in May 2006 for the 'Final Salute' at the famous old stadium and recalled his first days with the Club.

"I was in awe, I was very young, just 20," said Alf. "The marble halls and heated floors were in place but it all looked very different. It created a terrific impression. Some grounds like Fulham were wooden huts.

"I was also in the film, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery. It was a bit corny, but they took a few shots of us having a pre-match talk, all standing around talking. Then it was our job to pretend we were playing football. We had to re-enact Esmond Knight, the villain, trying to beat about three or four of us, which was a little bit difficult really.

"I had only four words to say: "Yes, he looked terrible," but I had to practise them, mind! We got £50 per week for a month which was a lot of money in those days, if you consider that a first-team player was on £8 a week with a £2 bonus."

Fields died in November 2011 one day before his 93rd birthday, previously being Arsenal's oldest living former player.

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