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GCR Books

Lionel Smith; Arsenal 1939 to 1955

Lionel Smith was born in Mexborough on 23 August 1920 and died aged 60 on 6 November 1980.

He joined Arsenal in 1939 just before the outbreak of the Second World War as an amateur left back and signed professionally in August on the eve of the declaration of war.

With football suspended Lionel served his country in the Royal Engineers and played for Arsenal 17 times in the wartime league.  After the war he played 181 times starting with one match at centre half in the championship winning side of 1947/8.   It was quite a match too – the 8-0 victory over Grimsby Town on 1 May 1948.   He then went on to play 32 games in the following season at left back.

He played all the FA Cup games of 1951/2 when Arsenal lost in the Cup Final and made 31 appearances in the championship winning side of 1952/3

In June 1954, after a season in which he made only a handful of appearances he moved to Watford – although in truth Arsenal could not find another regular left back until Dennis Evans took over in early 1955.   After one year at Watford Lionel Smith then became player-manager at Gravesend & Northfleet where he won the 1957-58 Southern League title.

Lionel Smith retired from football (as Gravesend manager) in 1960 and we have no record of what he did after the age of 40.

As a footballer at Arsenal Smith liked to play the ball forward from defence and enabled Arsenal to re-discover the counter attacking style of Chapman.  He won six caps for England starting with the game against Wales on 15 November 1950.

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2 comments to Lionel Smith; Arsenal 1939 to 1955

  • Judith Allen

    My Uncle was Lionel Smith. I have many many very fond memories of him. Your website says you don’t know what he did after the age of 40. He owned a pub in Stoke Newington London …. The Shakespeare….and ran it with his wife, my Auntie Olwyn, until he sadly died in 1980.

  • Alan Honniball

    Yes he was a wonderful full back I lived in Stoke Newington and still dwell on the Saturdays watching the Arsenal it was a great period to be on the terraces at Highbury sadly miss those days.

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