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GCR Books

Alexander Rooney Forbes

Alexander Rooney Forbes was born 21 January 1925 in Dundee and started with Dundee North End, before joining Sheffield United 1944, towards the end of the second world war.

Alex Forbes moved to Arsenal for £12,500 in February 1948 having already become a Scottish international.

Arsenal’s first season after the war was George Allison’s final bow for the club, and was a shambles in many ways with 32 players being used – many of whom were clearly at the end of their careers, others being try-outs who didn’t work.    Only three players played over 30 games, but under the management of Tom Whittaker the club was revitalised and in 1947/8 Arsenal won the league.

Alex played his first game in a 5-2 home win against Wolverhampton W in front of 58,000 people and went on to replace his friend Macaulay from the Arsenal.

It is said in many reports that Alex got appendicitis part way through the 1948/9 season and didn’t play after getting the illness, but the player lists for the season show that Alex only had two minor stretches where he did not play  including from December 11 to February 19 – which is probably the absence due to the operation.  He played at number 4, 6 and 10 through the rest of the season.

Years Team Apps Gls
Dundee North End
1944–1948 Sheffield United 61 6
1948–1956 Arsenal 217 20
1956–1957 Leyton Orient 8 0
1957–1958 Fulham 4 0

He won the title with the club in 1947/8 and 1952/3, and the FA Cup in 1950.  However in 1955/6 he had knee cartilage problems and he lost his place to Dave Bowen, moving to Leyton Orient at the start of the 1956/7 season before moving on to Fulham and finally and Gravesend & Northfleet.

After that he worked with the coaching team at Arsenal training the reserves and A team, before emigrating to South Africa when he coached school children.  He is the last survivor of the 1950 FA Cup team.

Years Manager Apps Gls
1947-8 Tom Whittaker 11 2
1948-9 Tom Whittaker 25 4
1949-50 Tom Whittaker 23 2
1950-1 Tom Whittaker 32 4
1951-2 Tom Whittaker 38 2
1952-3 Tom Whittaker 33 1
1953-4 Tom Whittaker 30 4
1954-5 Tom Whittaker 20 1
1955-6 Tom Whittaker 5 0
Total 212 20

There is a short film of the club training, including Alex in this extract.

 In Danskin’s footsteps: revisiting the sites of the early Arsenal

Elsewhere….

The books…

1 comment to Alexander Rooney Forbes

  • Mark

    So sad to read that Alex passed away a few days ago. The last surviving member of the 1950 FA cup winning team, I think. RIP ‘Red’, and thank you for helping to make this club what it is today.

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