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GCR Books

Reg Boreham: the invisible man, another victim of Knighton’s story telling

Tony Attwood

“His sparkling displays nearly gave him an England professional cap as well as amateur ones.”

So said Bernard Joy of Reg Boreham, and that might lead you immediately to conclude that there would be a fair amount of material available about Reg.  In fact there is currently no Wiki page on him (and virtually every other Arsenal player has a Wiki page on the player and Dean Hayes listing of all Arsenal players doesn’t seem to include him.

Arsenal.com do recognise him, and we can see from Fred Ollier that he played for Arsenal from December 12 onwards in the replayed Bolton Wanderers game (replayed because the first game on November 26 was abandoned due to fog.)

He played 22 games at inside left that season and scored 10 goals.  He played another 27 games in the league in 1922/3  scoring eight goals and played in both FA Cup matches.  He in fact missed the games between mid January and mid April, when he returned for three games.  This suggests that he had been injured in the interim.  He did appear for two games at the start of 1923/4 but that was it.

His contract cancelled in May 1925.   What happened then we don’t know although he was Wycombe’s secretary from 1937 to 1950 and that is about all we know.  Played 53 scored 18.

But his name does come up in another context.   This is the repetition on Wiki of the old tale that “(Lt Colonel Sir Henry) Norris put a strict cap of £1,000 on transfer fees and refused to sign any player under 5’8” tall or eleven stone.”  These funny little stories are part of the Norris myth created by Leslie  Knighton Arsenal’s first manager after the first world war.   Wiki also says, “To get round Norris’s rules, Knighton used his guile to sign some unusual transfers, such as the amateurs Reg Boreham and Jimmy Paterson – the latter was the Arsenal club doctor’s brother-in-law, and went on to play nearly 80 games for Arsenal.”

Later this year Arsenal Independent Supporters Association is publishing another in its series of Arsenal History booklets prepared by my colleagues and I in the Arsenal History Society, and in this next edition we bring forth the evidence to show exactly how and why this is a myth.  But in short the villain of the piece was Knighton, who invented a plethora of stories for his auto-biography written years later, in which he excused himself for all blame of Arsenal’s terrible run during those years.  There is a range of articles on this and other tales on this site in the Leslie Knighton pagesSadly these pages don’t get us any further on Reg Boreham’s life, but they do make it clear that it was very unlikely that Reg was a player of inferior quality signed by Knighton because Norris would not give him money for transfers.   If you are interested in seeing the debunking of this myth you might like our piece on the signings of the era.

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