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:
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.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Coming soon: Royal Arsenal
Other sites from the same team…