The independent London newspaper

Unmarked grave revealed as last resting place of Arsenal founder

David Danskin's burial plot discovered in Coventry

08 November, 2018 — By Geoffrey Sawyer

One of the first Arsenal squad photos in 1888 including David Danskin

ONE of Arsenal’s founders has been discovered in an unmarked grave in the Midlands seven decades after his death.

The Gunners are now planning to fund a memorial stone for David Danskin, with a dedication ceremony at London Road Cemetery in Coventry planned for early next year. Mr Danskin helped set up the club with coll­eagues at the Royal Arsenal factory in Wool­wich before its move to north London in 1913 and rise to be one of world football’s biggest names.

Ian Woolley, chairman of the cemetery’s friends group, discovered the grave and made the link to Unai Emery’s title-chasing team with help from local historian Lionel Bird. They in turn contacted supporters.

Mr Woolley said: “I was doing research and I came across the fact that his headstone was not marked. I double checked our database and found the stone. “I told Lionel a few times and he then decided to grab hold of this and run with it.”

He added: “There are four people in the grave, including David’s second wife, so we can’t go in all guns blazing – pun not intended. We need to be sensitive about what is written and what the memorial will look like, considering the other people who are buried there. But I am very excited about having this grave recognised.”

The plan is to install the new headstone early next year with a dedication ceremony in March. Mr Woolley said: “It will get more exciting when the stone comes in and some fans start paying homage to the site.”

Mr Danskin, born in Fife, Scotland, in 1863, moved to work at the Royal Arsenal in south-east London. A keen footballer, he set up Dial Square FC with workmates, the club becoming Royal Arsenal in 1886. As Arsenal, the club has been champions of England 13 times and won the FA Cup more times than any other team.

Mr Danskin’s name features on the wraparound mural of players outside the Emirates Stadium.

Mr Woolley said: “There are two First World War graves next to David’s and they have the armoury canon on them. It’s meant to be.”

The Gunners said in a statement: “Arsenal is a football club whose community values are as true today as they were back then and it is important that David Danskin has the recognition he deserves for founding our football club. We are working together with David’s descendants and our supporters to ensure David Danskin is remem­bered approp­riately in his resting place.”

The club is working with stonemasons on a headstone and planning a memorial service next year where Arsenal will be represented.


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