Bastin, Cliff

Birth Date

14th March 1912





Biographical Text

Arguably the best player to come out of Exeter City Football Club, Bastin went on to win a string of honours for club and country after he left St James’ Park.

He earned his reputation as an exceptional footballer at a very early age when playing for Ladysmith School and St Marks in Exeter.

He was called up into the Exeter Schools team at the age of 11 and he played for England Schools three years later.

Bastin scored twice on his Exeter City reserve team debut against Bath City on Christmas Eve, 1927 and it wasn’t long before the first team beckoned as his chance came in a goalless draw at Coventry City on 14th April 1927. Bastin was just 16 years and one month old.

Despite only playing 17 games and scoring 6 goals in his time at Exeter, he was spotted by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman in a match against Watford.

Chapman was attending to keep tabs on a Watford player, but the 17-year-old Bastin's ability was so evident that Chapman decided to sign him in April 1929 for a fee of £2,000.

Bastin played the rest of his career at Arsenal, and formed an integral part of the side that dominated English football in the 1930s.

He scored 178 goals in 395 games, which made him Arsenal's all-time top goal scorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright.

His youthful looks earned him the nickname "Boy Bastin", but despite his age Bastin's play was characterised by a remarkable coolness, and deadly precision in front of goal. He also became Arsenal's regular penalty taker.

Bastin won the FA Cup twice with Arsenal, in 1929-30 and 1935-36; He won a First Division championship medal five times, in 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1937-38.

By the age of nineteen he had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to do all three.

During his career Bastin also played for England between 1931 and 1938, winning 21 caps and scoring 12 goals, his debut coming against Wales at Anfield on 18 November 1931, which England won 3-1.

The Second World War intervened when Bastin was 27, thus cutting short what should have been the peak of his career.

Bastin was excused military service when he failed the Army hearing test owing to his increasing deafness.

Thus, during the war, he served as an ARP Warden, being stationed on top of Highbury Stadium.

After the war was over, Bastin, by now in his thirties, would only play seven more times before retiring in January 1947.

After retirement, Bastin returned to his native Exeter and became landlord of The Three Tuns at Silverton in September 1951, and then ran the Horse & Groom public house in Heavitree, Exeter.

He died on 4th December 1991 at the age of 79.






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