Cliff Bastin

One of Our Own | Exhibition Images

Born in Exeter in 1912, Cliff was a standout schoolboy footballer for Ladysmith Road School scoring six goals in a 7-1 win against Newtown in the Exeter Schools Final at St James Park in 1926.  He represented Exeter Schools from the age of 11 and English Schools in 1926. Cliff made his club debut for Exeter City Reserves as a 15-year-old, scoring twice against Bath City in a 6-1 Southern League victory on Christmas Eve 1927. He was soon in the first team making his debut at 16 years and one month old away at Coventry in 1928. It took over eight decades before his record as City’s youngest ever debutant was broken in 2016 by another one of our own, Ethan Ampadu. Bastin played just 17 games for City, scoring six goals, before Herbert Chapman spotted him and signed him for First Division Arsenal in 1929. The transfer fee was £2000. He became a legend for The Gunners scoring 178 goals in 395 games. This record was only overtaken by Ian Wright in 1997. Cliff won the FA Cup twice and the Football League five times with Arsenal. He also played for England 21 times scoring 12 goals. The Second World War denied him a full career and he retired in 1947 and returned to Exeter as a publican. He died in 1991.