Arsenal sign Olympic Gold Medalist

If you’ve been following any of this story you’ll know that one of the key problems in the 1909/1910 season was that we couldn’t find a centre forward.  We’d even converted our centre half into a centre forward, and still nothing worked.  Players came in and went out, getting one or two games before moving away.

And as we approached the last game in November 1909 Woolwich Arsenal had another idea.  Bring back Gordon Rahere Hoare.

Hoare was a local south Londoner who had played amateur football with Woolwich Polytechnic and Bromley.   (Woolwich Poly FC is interesting – we seem to have picked up a number of players from there, in the early days.  The Poly was formed in 1892 and lasted until 1970 – and seems to have had a football team for much of its life – although I have not found any sort of history written up.

Anyway, Gordon Hoare joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1907 and played for the first time against Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the 1907/8 season.    He stayed on the club’s books as an amateur and played 11 first team games in the 08/09 season.

But despite the total failure of Arsenal to find a centre forward he was not picked throughout the opening part of the 1909/10 season, until this last match in November.   He got his game, but it was too little too late, and he moved to Glossop North End in December 1909.

Now this is rather interesting because Glossop despite being a little market town in Derbyshire at the time had a second division team which had got to the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1908–09 where they lost to 1-0 to Bristol City after a replay.

But this is the real twist: the chairman and (inevitably) benefactor in 1909 was Sir Samuel Hill-Wood, who later became chairman of Arsenal and whose descendants have ruled the club ever since.

I don’t have access to playing records for Glossop but somehow and for some reason one year later, almost to the day, Hoare was back in Woolwich Arsenal.   This time he got 14 games and six goals before going back to Glossop in 1912.

In all he had 13 clubs – but this is a bit misleading because two of those were Woolwich Arsenal, and one was Arsenal!

But I suspect that will have meant less than the fact that he played all three matches for England (ie Great Britain) in the 1912 Olympics and so won an Olympic Gold.  He scored two goals.

Which leads me to the point of my headline.  Since the official records show that Gordon Hoare signed for Arsenal, that must have been in or after 1913 (the year we changed our name) and so, by then he was a gold medalist.

He retired from football in 1920, and died in 1973 at the age of 89.  If any descendant of Gordon Hoare should ever read this and would like to contribute more to the story, I would be honoured to include additional information from such a prime source.  If I have got anything wrong thus far, please accept my apologies – I am more than ready to correct the data.

The full story of 1910 is published in MAKING THE ARSENAL which is available via

(c) Tony Attwood 2009.

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