The very very odd case of Arsenal player Frank Ransom

By Tony Attwood

Paul Taylor wrote to the AHS a little while back about the Arsenal player Frank Ransom.  His report is that he was born sometime in 1878 and and he is found on all censuses from 1881 to 1901 living in Plumstead; latterly as a house painter. None of his immediate family is of Irish stock, either. In 1911 he is found, still as a house painter, in Heanor.

Now that reference to Irish is important, because in all football reference books he is described as Irish.

According to Frank joined Woolwich Arsenal from local football on 7 August 1900 after a trial period with the Club.  They too say he was Irish.

We do know that he played one and only one game for Woolwich Arsenal first team on 26 December 1903, away to Leicester Fosse.  It was 0-0.  Ransom is shown in the records as wearing the number 6 shirt for this game, in what was Arsenal’s promotion season from the second division.

Despite making no further appearances he stayed with Arsenal until 1905 when he moved to Southend United and then Crystal Palace.

Paul Taylor adds that he then moved on to Leicester Fosse reserves and Heanor United and that he also had trials with Grimsby Town reserves in October 1909.  I have found two passing references to Heanor Utd on the internet, both from around this era, but neither giving me any guidance as to what league the club was in or providing any other information.

But still that leaves everyone else saying that the player was Irish.

The Crystal Palace official site says, “A large number of representatives from the Emerald Isle have featured for the club since Frank Ransom was the first in 1906,” calls him “The Irish born left half”.

One thing we can do is check the records of Irish internationals, and he is certainly not listed there – although given that he didn’t make a breakthrough into Arsenal’s first team that is not surprising and doesn’t really take us much further.

So what do we make of this?  Paul Taylor says, “I don’t know where this myth of Frank Ransom being an Irishman started, but I’m aware it’s repeated on every Arsenal and Palace site I’ve come across.”

Certainly, it is possible that Frank Ransom simply invented the story, or was repeating something that was said in the family.  If his mother or father had once said to him, “you were born in Ireland” why would he not continue with that?  And indeed he could well have been brought to Plumstead very early on in life – certainly it was the place that men travelled to, in order to find work.

That would fit with the notion that none of his lineage was of Irish stock.

If there is any more info, please do publish it below, but for the moment, we’ll have to leave it there.

The Arsenal History Society



One Reply to “The very very odd case of Arsenal player Frank Ransom”

  1. RANSOM, Frank
    Role: Left Half
    b. Woolwich, Kent, April qtr. 1878.

    CAREER: Woolwich Arsenal (trial) April-May 1898, Tottenham Hotspur 1899; Woolwich Arsenal signed 8 Aug 1900; Southern United June 1905; Crystal Palace 21 Sept 1906; Leicester Fosse 17 Dec 1907; Heanor United 31 Oct 1908.

    Frank Ransom played for Tottenham Hotspur reserves before joining Woolwich Arsenal in August 1900. He had a trial with the club two years earlier. Frank played just one game for Arsenal at Leicester Fosse in a dull 0-0 draw on the 27th December 1903. He worked as a Turner at the Woolwich Arsenal Military base in November 1905 and he was captain of Arsenal reserves for two seasons and won no fewer than 10 medals in various reserve Cup competitions. Ransom played just one Southern League game for Crystal Palace in the 2-0 defeat at Brentford in November 1906. He played for Leicester Fosse’s reserves after leaving Palace and later played for Heanor United. The 1911 census has him living at 20, Mundys Row, Marlpool near Heanor, Derbyshire and working as aa house painter. Irish birth very unlikely.

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