Gordon Rahere Hoare: the Arsenal player who transferred 23 times.

by Tony Attwood

According to Wikipedia Gordon Rahere Hoare (18 April 1884 – 27 October 1973) was “an English amateur footballer” – and that’s all you get.  Which is rather sad given the extraordinary nature of his engagement with the game.

Now if you are a regular reader of this site you might recall that we already have an article on Gordon Hoare, but I am adding this one to add some more detail that I have discovered from a most remarkable site: Football and the First World War.

And as a result of access to that site we can even challenge Wiki’s single fact – the players dates.  This is what Football and the First World War has to say…

“Gordon Rahere Hoare (1884-1973) was born in Blackheath, South East London on 18 April 1884 and died in Putney in December 1973. An amateur international, the inside-forward played for three Football League clubs before and immediately after World War One, during which he served overseas with the British Army. In 1912, Hoare was part of the Great Britain team that won the gold medal at the Stockholm Olympic Games.”


If you’ve been following any of this story you’ll know that one of the key problems for Woolwich Arsenal and for Henry Norris in his initial engagement with the club was in finding proven goal scorers, and inside forwards who could supply them.  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.

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 suitable forwards 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 ruled the club until the events that led to the takeover by Stan Kroenke.  They were significant in the eventual overthrow of Henry Norris at Arsenal.

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 – although 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 in the final against Denmark.

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.

Here’s his Arsenal record from 11v11

Season Team Competition Apps Goals
1907-08 Arsenal League Division One 1
1908-09 Arsenal FA Cup 2
1908-09 Arsenal League Division One 11
1909-10 Arsenal League Division One 1
1910-11 Arsenal FA Cup 2
1910-11 Arsenal League Division One 14
1911-12 Arsenal League Division One 3

The Football and the First World War site also tell us that Hoare “won 13 amateur international caps for England. Between December 1914 and April 1915, Hoare turned out for Scottish side Queens Park and would also appear as wartime guest for Fulham and Manchester City during the First World War. In 1919, Hoare returned to Craven Cottage and played a further four league and two FA Cup games for the club, scoring on two occasions.”

The link with Fulham of course is tantalising – as Sir Henry Norris, as he was by then, was director of both Fulham and Arsenal until the bust up over the London Victory Cup.  

I can’t tell if Hoare went back to Fulham before or after that acrimonious dispute, but if after, it seems curious that Sir Henry would allow any player to go to Fulham at that point, so bad had relations become between the two clubs.

Hoare’s military service is outlined by the Football and the First World War site:

“Hoare initially enlisted as a private in the Army Service Corps (ASC) and was posted to the mechanical transport (MT) section. In April 1916, Hoare was reported to have been based at Mottingham, Kent and was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the ASC on 3 July 1917. By the end of the war, Hoare had been promoted to lieutenant.”

And now I want to quote wholesale from the Football and the First World War site, because they have produced a complete analysis of Hoare’s progress as a player.  I think this is incredibly valuable because it shows the wandering nature of some amateur players at the time.  Hoare was by no means the only player we have come across to move from club to club so readily but each time we find one, I find it a fascinating reflection on the way football was played at the time.


Season Club League Position FA Cup Lge Games Lge Goals FA Cup Games FA Cup Goals
1905 Westcombe Park
1906 West Norwood
1906 Woolwich Polytechnic
1906 Bromley
1907/08 Woolwich Arsenal 14th (First Division) R1 1
1908/09 Woolwich Arsenal 6th (First Division) R2 11 5 2
1909/10 Woolwich Arsenal 18th (First Division) R2 1
1909/10 Glossop 6th (Second Division) R1 10 2 1 1
1910/11 Glossop 14th (Second Division) R1 1
1910/11 Bromley
1910/11 Woolwich Arsenal 10th (First Division) R2 14 6 2 1
1910/11 Pilgrims
1911/12 Woolwich Arsenal 10th (First Division) R1 3 1
1911/12 Glossop 18th (Second Division) R1 11 3
1912/13 Glossop 18th (Second Division) R1 25 9 1
1913/14 Glossop 17th (Second Division) R2 4 2
1913 West Norwood
1913 Bromley
1913/14 Queen’s Park 16th (Scottish First Division)
1913/14 Arsenal 3rd (Second Division) R1
1914 Norfleet
1914/15 Arsenal 5th (Second Division) R2
1914 West Norwood
1919/20 Fulham 6th (Second Division) R1 4 1 1
Arsenal 44 18 6 2
Fulham 4 2 2
Glossop 51 16 2 1
Queen’s Park
Totals 99 34 10 5

That really is a record and a half.


The Henry Norris Files

Section 1 – 1910.

Part 1. How Arsenal fell from grace.

Part 2: heading for liquidation and the first thought of moving elsewhere

Part 3: March and April 1910 – the crisis deepens

Part 4: the proposed mergers with Tottenham and Chelsea.

Part 5: The collapse of Woolwich Arsenal: how the rescue took shape.

Part 6: It’s agreed, Arsenal stay in Plumstead for one (no two) years

Part 7: Completing the takeover and preparing for the new season

Part 8: July to December 1910. Bad news all round.

Section 2 – 1911 and the players used thus far.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal part 9: 1911 – Arsenal escape relegation.

Two of Arsenal’s most mysterious players: missing from the official list, but they certainly played

The above article contains links to all the players of the era whose lives we have already covered in articles on this site.

Arsenal’s team in Norris’ first season overseeing the club: George Burdett

Jackie Chalmers: the man who rescued Arsenal, but then rode back to the north.


6 Replies to “Gordon Rahere Hoare: the Arsenal player who transferred 23 times.”

  1. Hi I was so interested in this history of Gordon Hoare my grand uncle. Our family lost contact with him following his football and army career. He spent a short time on the family business in Sri Lanka ( Ceylon) but there appears to be a family quarrel with my Grandfather which meant no further contact. I did not know of his existentence for many years even though he was alive for the first 15 years of my life. Do you have any other information on his life? I have recently got photos of the gold winning team and others which may be of interest. Thanks Janey

  2. I only have the info published here, but if you could send me a scan of any photos I would be delighted to add them to this article. Also, as the site now gets over half a million page views a year there is every chance that someone else might come along with more, if more items are put up. Email me at Tony@schools.co.uk

  3. Janey we must be distantly related somehow. Gordon is my great, great uncle apparently but that is all I know. My grandfather was Eric Hoare.

  4. My niece4, Briony Randall, who posted above, was a generation out in her relationship to Gordon Hoare. Gordon Hoare was my great grandfather’s younger brother. It was a large family with numerous progeny (I have a photo showing all the boys, including Gordon, with their parents. Gordon was one of the youngest boys. The many daughters were not included in the photograph. I have done some research and can add some information about Gordon’s early life, including his education at the Naval school in Greewich where he and another of his brothers won scholarships to attend there. They were not navy officers’ sons. Both boys benefited from their privileged education there and both excelled and made names for themselves in their chosen professions. Should you be interested, please feel free to contact me.

  5. Gordon Hoare was not transferred between these clubs. As he was an amateur, he could play forever he wished. He just chose to move around a lot. He actually played for more than one club at a time. The Pilgrims were a club that did international tours and were not a club that played in any leagues in England. Glossop used a lot of amateur players as they did not have to pay them. The club always struggled financially anyway. The club’s owner had lots of connections so could get amateur player to appear for Glossop. They probably paid them good expenses as well.

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