Joe Wade; joined Arsenal 25 May

Joe Wade was born 7 July 1921 in Shoreditch and joined Arsenal as an amateur in 1944 – while Britain was still at war.

He was in the RAF at the time and based near Hereford, and also played for them during the war years.  He is also listed as playing for Hoxton.  He played at left back and had only one near complete season as a player after six years of playing mostly reserve football – as the chart shows:

Season Games Goals Manager
1946/7 2 0 Allison
1947/8 3 0 Whittaker
1948/9 0 0 Whittaker
1949/50 1 0 Whittaker
1950/1 0 0 Whittaker
1951/2 8 0 Whittaker
1952/3 40 0 Whittaker
1953/4 18 0 Whittaker
1954/5 0 0 Whittaker
Total 86 0

He made his début in an FA Cup match against West Ham United on 5 January 1946; Arsenal lost 6-0.  This was the year in which the FA was played played, but there was no Football League.

Joe made his league début in a 4-2 victory over Leeds on 16 November 1946, but with Walley Barnes, George Male,  and Bernard Joy all able to play at number 3, he had little chance.  Worse for Joe, Laurie Scott could play left or right back, giving Joe even less chance of getting a game.

He got his chance in 1952/3 due to injuries elsewhere – and amazingly in his one complete season he played 40 league games and got a league winner’s medal.   It was the last trophy for Arsenal before the entry into the Years of Darkness – there were no more trophies until Bertie Mee appeared.

However that season gave Joe an extra credibility in the team and he began to work as a youth team coach, while continuing to fill in, with reserve matches.  He was also coach of the football team at Hackney Downs Grammar School.

In 1956 he returned to Hereford (then in the Southern League) as player-manager, having played 91 league and cup games for Arsenal.

At Hereford he picked up some notable cup victories against league side and won the Southern League and Cup double.  He left in 1962 to develop his sports shop business, but returned briefly in 1971 after John Charles left the club in 1971.  He died on 12 November 2005, at the age of 84.

See also…

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3 Replies to “Joe Wade; joined Arsenal 25 May”

  1. A few years ago someone asked me a question about reserve team appearances. I’m pretty sure that I worked out that Joe has made more appearances for Arsenal’s reserves than any other player. He played 275 games in the Football Combination and 11 in the London FA Challenge Cup.

  2. I met Joe Wade when I was a schoolboy in the late 1970s. I’d got very interested in pre-war Arsenal and my Dad thought I’d enjoy talking to an ex-player from years gone by. At that time he was running a sports shop in Widemarsh St in Hereford. It said “Ex-Arsenal FC” under his name over the door. He was a lovely bloke, very eager to share his stories and my Dad and I spent the evening at his house. I’d been sent some old press photos by Molly Allsop, daughter of Herbert Chapman. We went through them together and they jogged his memory. One showed Alec James turning out for a Hereford Utd side in a wartime friendly. Another was from the famous Moscow Dynamo game. He told the story, almost in confidential tones, of how the then Arsenal captain Jimmy Logie, refused to shake the referee’s hand – and how the Arsenal board immediately stripped him of the captaincy as punishment. He showed us his 1953 league championship medal and his love for the club was obvious in all that he said. He’d grown up just to the south of Islington, then a very tough district, where he played football in the streets and learnt to box to look after himself. As a boy he went to Highbury regularly to watch the team and he grew up to play for them. A dream that rarely comes true for local lads in this day and age. His one regret? The freak collision he was involved in which broke Joe Mercer’s leg. He said everyone knew instinctively, as he was carried off on the stretcher, that he’d never appear in an Arsenal shirt again. I remember him saying he felt close to tears – and I think he told us the noise of the crowd prevented he or Mercer hearing the other “putting their name” on the ball. He was hugely proud of having played for Arsenal though. His home had a plaque by the front door with its name on it. Yup you’ve guessed it. “Highbury”.

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