Edward Joseph Drake was born 16 August 1912 and died 30 May 1995. We already have many mentions of him on this site, including our invention of Ted Drake Day in December, to commemorate his achievement of scoring seven goals in one first division game.
This article aims to cover some of the other issues in Ted Drake’s life and career.
One of the things that strike me about such a magnificent player is that when I first came to read up on him I expected more medals. He got two league winner’s medals, an FA Cup winner’s medal and five caps for England.
So what don’t you know? Well, maybe that he played cricket for Hampshire, and was the manager of Chelsea when they first won the league.
He started at Winchester City, and then went on to Southampton, playing for them for the first time on 14 November 1931. Herbert Chapman quickly spotted him, but at first could not convince him to move.
After Herbert Chapman’s untimely death Joe Shaw took over and Ted Drake was signed in March 1934 for a fee of £6,500 – although it is suggested that George Allison saw the deal through. Ted Drake had played 74 times for Southampton and scored 48 goals.
As you would expect Ted Drake scored in his first game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 24 March 1934.
Arsenal won the league that year, the year in which Herbert Chapman died, and continued to make it three in a row under three different managers in 1934/5 – the year in which he scored 42 goals in 41 league games. Including the FA Cup and Charity Shield he got 44 goals in one season – an all time Arsenal record.
Even for England he kept up that sort of scoring record, getting six goals in five games. He also won the FA Cup in 1935/6 and the league again in 1937/8
During the war he served his country in the RAF, and played some war time games, but an injury in 1945 ended his career.
After his forced retirement Ted Drake managed Hendon in 1946, at that time playing in the Athenian League. The following season he moved to Reading from 1947 changing them from being very much a mid-table Third Division South team to being runners up in 1948-49 and 1951-52. At this time only the champions of the Third Division North and Third Division South were promoted to the Second Division.
In 1952 he moved to Chelsea, and clearly influenced by the memory of the way Herbert Chapman was said to have reformed Arsenal, he set about changing Chelsea. It is said that he even instigated a new nickname for the club – The Blues – although given the way we have found that the Chapman stories about his reforms were not always as they are told, this may not be true.
It is also said that he changed the training routine, and brought in little known players from lower divisions and amateur teams.
In 1954/5 Chelsea won the league – an amazing achievement considering that in 1951/2 and 1952/3 they had come 18th, and thus just missing relegation. He was finally sacked in 1961/2.
He then became reserve team manager at Fulham, and later a director and life president. We also have a newspaper report from 1975/6 season of him being at an Arsenal v Fulham game, which has him as a scout at the time. Ted Drake died aged 82 on 30 May 1995.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
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The main series on this web site