Arsenal and Rooney the Red (not that one)

Alexander Rooney Forbes (known as Red) was born 21 January 1925 in Dundee.

He initially played for Dundee North End, and then after the war ended moved to Sheffield United.  He played his first game for Scotland, against England,on 12 April 1947.   However he had appendicitis and did not seem to make a full recovery initially and was transfer listed.

Now we come to a lovely part of the story.  Archie Macaulay joined Arsenal in July 1947 from Brentford and became a fixture in the Championship winning team.  He recommended Alex Forbes to Arsenal, he was transferred to Arsenal in February 1948 for £15,000.

Alex played his first match on  6 March 1948. Nicknamed “Red” (for the colour of his hair) he won a First Division winners’ medal in his first season at Arsenal in 1947–48, after 11 appearances that season.

Forbes gradually displaced Macaulay (there’s friendship for you) in the side and won his second medal in the FA Cup in 1950 – Macaulay missing out. He also played 14 times for Scotland making his last appearance on 14 May 1952.

Including cup games Forbes played 240 games for Arsenal, scoring 20 goals, thus showing he did fully recover from the appendix operation.  But he had a knee cartilage operation during 1955/6 and lost his place to Dave Bowen.

Here’s his league career.

Years Team



  Dundee North End
1944–1948 Sheffield United



1948–1956 Arsenal



1956–1957 Leyton Orient



1957–1958 Fulham


(0) also have him playing for Gravesend and Northfleet but we have no details.

Here is a summary of his time with Arsenal.

Season Lge games Goals Manager
1947/8 11 2 Whittaker
1948/9 25 4 Whittaker
1949/50 23 2 Whittaker
1950/1 32 4 Whittaker
1951/2 38 2 Whittaker
1952/3 33 1 Whittaker
1953/4 30 4 Whittaker
1954/5 20 1 Whittaker
1955/6 5 0 Whittaker
271 20

After retiring from playing, Alex Forbes spent some time coaching the Arsenal reserves and youth teams. He then emigrated to South Africa and coached school children.  He is also chairman of the South African branch of the Arsenal supporters’ club. Alex Forbes is recorded as the last surviving player from the 1950 Cup Final team. comment that Alex now lives in Johannesburg in retirement.

The books…

See also…

Other sites from the same team…

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