R.I.P — Alex Forbes 1925-2014


Alex Forbes has passed away at the age of 89 he appeared in 240 games for Arsenal over an 8 year period, scoring 20 goals.


Alexander Rooney Forbes was born 21 January 1925 in Dundee Scotland He started his career playing wartime matches with Dundee North End, before signing for Sheffield United. He was a regular for United in the first two seasons of competitive football after the war ended, and made his debut for Scotland, against England on 12 April 1947. However, he was sidelined by an attack of appendicitis midway through the 1948-49 season and could not regain his place afterwards.

Transfer-listed by the Blades, Forbes signed for Arsenal (after being persuaded by the Gunners’ Archie Macaulay, who was a friend of his) in February 1948 for £15,000. He made his debut against Wolves on 6 March 1948. Nicknamed “Red” (for the colour of his hair) and known for his hard tackling, he picked up a First Division winners’ medal in his first season at Arsenal, making 11 appearances that season. Forbes managed to eventually displace his friend Macaulay from the Arsenal side, becoming a regular for seven seasons. He went on to win a second title in 1952-53, and picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal in 1949-50.

He continued to also play for Scotland, eventually picking up 14 caps for his country. In all, Forbes played 240 games for Arsenal, scoring 20 goals. However, injury blighted his final season with the Gunners – a problem with his knee cartilage demanded an operation, which restricted him to five appearances in 1955-56. Having lost his place to Dave Bowen, Forbes moved to Leyton Orient in August 1956. He spent a season there before seeing out his career with Fulham.

After retiring from playing, Forbes spent some time coaching the Arsenal reserves and youth teams. He later emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, to coach children at a local private school, Yeshiva College of South Africa. He was also chairman of the South African branch of the Arsenal supporters’ club. He recently had a hip replacement.

Forbes is the last surviving player from Arsenal’s 1950 FA Cup Final winning team.


GunnerN5 is proud to say that I watched the majority of Alex’s home games for Arsenal, he was a rough and tough player to played with his heart hanging out of his shirt.

Rest in peace Alex, you were the last remaining player from Arsenal’s 1950 FA Cup Final winning team.



80 Responses to R.I.P — Alex Forbes 1925-2014

  1. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Tucked away somewhere I have a programme from one of the first matches I attended, Alex Forbes certainly featured in the game.

    My condolences to his family and friends, I’m sure he will be greatly missed.

  2. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks GN5

    How terrific that an ex-player went on to Chair an Arsenal Supporters Club. I like that.

  3. gunnerpete says:

    Alex was my hero during those hard days after the war. He was exactly what AFC could really use now ie; a DMF with guts and workrate that would leave the rest standing. I send all my wishes to his family and thanks to Alex, he will be missed by all true Gunners.

  4. kelsey says:

    Another great write up GN5.

    I was amazed that in 1950 when we signed Alex Forbes for 15K that today equates to just under 320K, which when compared to top players wages today is unbelievable.

  5. VCC says:

    Nice tribute GN5………How nice to hear he stayed one of the Arsenal family.

    I just missed his playing career but have read lots about him.


  6. Rest in peace our dear legend.

  7. 26may1989 says:

    Many thanks for this, GN5, I didn’t know of Alex Forbes, certainly makes interesting reading. Condolences to his family of course – his was obviously a life lived well.

    I see from his Wiki page that he represented Scotland in ice hockey as well as football, and he managed various sides, including one of African football’s giants, Orlando Pirates from Soweto in South Africa. The fact he undertook that role in 1975, when the rebellion against apartheid and the state’s murderous oppression of the majority were at their height, suggests a man of real moral fibre.

  8. mickydidit89 says:

    That’s a great point 26

  9. GunnerN5 says:

    Alex Forbes was one of my early football heroes he played in the days of brown leather ankle high boots and the brown leather ball with leather lacing to hold the bladder inside the ball. The boot studs were made of circular layers of leather nailed into the soles of the boots, on many occasions the heads of the nails protruded inside the boot and left some nasty callouses on the bottom of your feet.

    The referee checked every players studs before he went onto the pitch to ensure that no nail heads were exposed on the bottoms of the studs. Believe me studs were used as a weapon and our Alex was one of the better exponents of running his studs down an opponents legs. He was a rough, tough, gruff player and quickly earned the “respect” of his opponents – who mostly shied away from him.

    Referee’s still check a players studs today – but I’m unsure what they are checking for – maybe its just a throwback?

  10. Thanks for that GN5

    RIP Alex Forbes.

    And I sometimes think that I’ve seen quite a few decades of the Arsenal. But you came over with them from Woolwich…. 🙂

  11. chás says:

    Lovely, GN5, ta.

    “…and if he come anywhere near me, I’d knock him on his ar*e.” 🙂

  12. GunnerN5 says:


    You are one of the gems of AA!

    That was a wonderful and in the video Forbes and was still the hard nut that I remembered a real “take no prisoners” type of player. Opponents avoided him at all costs.

  13. chás says:

    Here’s that vid with Alex Forbes enjoying his rowing and at the end, the studs being nailed on to the boots,
    Pathé have recently put some of their films on youtube.

  14. chás says:

    No reason not to enjoy that 1950 FA Cup win again ……♫On the day that we beat the Scousers♫.

  15. chás says:

    My pleasure as always, GN5.

  16. chás says:
  17. chás says:
  18. chás says:

    Walcott twitter photo in moderation?????????

  19. Excellent videos Chas 🙂

  20. LB says:

    Looks like Theo has been eating a pie or two.

  21. The boots in those days looked like lethal weapons! 🙂

  22. GunnerN5 says:


    The nails were used to good effect! The leather the studs were formed with used to wear out leaving the heads of the nails exposed, and they resulted in a lot of ugly scars – hence the referee doing the safety check.

  23. yes but in those days GN5, with blood gushing from a shin or an ankle, the player would stand up, refuse medical help, wave to the crowd and play on regardless and score four goals. 🙂

  24. kelsey says:

    and they didn’t wear ballet shoes.I wonder how many injuries are caused by these flip flops.

  25. arnie says:

    Brilliant stuff, GN5. 🙂 🙂 I had heard of Alex Forbes, but never realised he was a Dundonian. RIP Alex Forbes.

    Your stories of the football and studs takes me back to my childhood. Dangerous it was, yes, but good fun as well! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  26. arnie says:

    Absolutely brilliant vids, Chas. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  27. GunnerN5 says:

    That’s a really good point Kelsey, the ballet shoes offer no protection at all.

  28. arnie says:

    Fecking crazy! Ban them for life, I say. 😦

  29. arnie says:

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  30. arnie says:

    Alex Forbes with the FA Cup in 1950

    From http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140728/alex-forbes-1925-2014

    Nice video footage as well.

  31. arnie says:

    Here is an obit from the Dundee Courier. Not much additional info, nevertheless a nice tribute. 🙂


  32. arnie says:


    Reports from leading Journalists in Colombia claim the 21-year-old Colombian playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero is poised to join the Gunners and could be set to be announced as early as tomorrow by the club.


  33. arnie says:
  34. stevepalmer1 says:

    Evening all,
    Always sad when an old Gooner goes.

    Stud nails down the shin and drawing blood, and players kept clear of him, and he made it a work of art, Makes Suarez’s little nibble seem pretty tame, doesn’t it.

    Nice one Gn5.

  35. fatgingergooner says:


    Just read those reports myself. Seems to be well respected sources saying he’s on his way to London for a medical etc.

    £15.8m so a decent chunk of money. If true then could see Cazorla leaving? Or maybe Wenger just building for the near future.

    Apparently he’s a number 10 but can also play wide.

    Will believe it once it’s on Arsenal.com.

  36. fatgingergooner says:

    Jenks to West Ham.

    Not sure how I feel about that one. I’m happy he’s gone out on loan but I probably wouldn’t have chosen the Hammers. I think they may have a new manager by Christmas!

    Hope he has a great season.

  37. arnie says:

    Dont know, FGG. At West Ham, he should get regular time on the pitch. Which Jenks needs for his development. Undecided on this one.

    The Santi rumours make me a bit sad. 😦 I would keep Santi and Poldi in the squad even if just for their smiles. 🙂

  38. fatgingergooner says:

    I thought Hull would’ve been a better option. They get their full backs forward and have signed some decent wingers in Snodgrass and Ince. Plus they could be in Europe..

    Suppose it doesn’t matter though really as long as Jenks is getting the games.

  39. kelsey says:


    Too much paper talk not to believe Quintero is about to sign.He plays midfield or left wing,so who is going Santi or Podolski.
    My initial hunch as you know was Santi but it could be either as I can’t see all three staying , if this happens.

    Still Vermaelen to sort out so a maximum of 3 signings could be 6.

    Did you read we got the best part of 16 million back on what was owing on the Cesc transfer plus add ons to Chelsea plus what was owing on Song so basically Chambers cost nothing.

    Good luck to Carl, gooner or not,but I suspect there might well be a recall in his loan deal.

    Well at least shirt sales will take a boost 🙂

  40. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning Crystals

    In the name of research rather than rumour, I googlized the little fella. I’d agree we have missed penetration down the left for a long time, so maybe.

    Naturally, it’s all down to the money for me. Must cost at least…. 🙂

  41. arnie says:

    Kelsey, this is seriously early in the morning. 😛

    Santi or Poldi, I hear you say. What about Rosicky?

  42. arnie says:

    ah, Micky up early as well! 🙂

  43. mickydidit89 says:

    We keeping everyone Arnie 🙂

  44. arnie says:

    Well, strategically I think the Latin America connection is very valuable. Chile, Colombia, and so on. Not only for extending the brand into the continent, but potentially a fantastic source of young talent. Traditionally Spain and Portugal have been the primary destinations for talent from that part of the world, maybe Arsenal is going to tap into that market. Exciting. 🙂

    In addition to the German pool. 😛

  45. arnie says:

    I hope you are right, Micky. 😛

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    Right about what, him being expensive enough I guess you mean?

  47. arnie says:

    Micky. I meant right about keeping everyone. About being expensive I guess not that much, he is not an English player 😛 £16m is the figure doing the rounds, same as Chambers, and I can believe that. 😛

  48. mickydidit89 says:

    I know what you meant Arnie 🙂

    Chambers, and his cost, look very good to me for a prospect/back up, but if I assume Arsene is looking for a LW’er, then we should be looking for a first choice and therefore be a starter ahead of Podolski. Someone speedy in the Griezman (sp?) mould.

    Maybe this Quintero is the man for us, although where the rumour comes from, who knows.

    Mind you, love the speculation

  49. arnie says:

    Yes, nothing like a dose of healthy speculation to liven the day. 🙂

    G’night now, or is it motning! 😛

  50. mickydidit89 says:

    Please don’t tell me he’s Gon Salon

    And where the heck is Eddie?

    Children’s Birthday next weekend, and it’s a full moon, so we’re going two nights camping hoping to do some night surfing if it’s cloudless

  51. mickydidit89 says:

    “Hi Guys, thee you all at thee bridge”
    Oh, make me hurl. And Raddy calls me a complete and utter knob!

  52. chás says:

    Wow, full moon surfing looks bitching.

  53. chás says:
  54. mickydidit89 says:

    “bitching” : roll :

  55. fatgingergooner says:

    Quintero’s agent now saying his buyout is £31m and nobody has come in for him.

    Never heard of him so not fussed either way, although a young, pacey LW would be nice (if he can play there!).

  56. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning FGG

    For me the LW has been the biggest problem position for a long time, despite me banging on about a defensive midfielder for four years.

  57. chás says:

    The traditional DM role doesn’t exist anymore. Didn’t you read Wenger?
    Left wing neither, both left and right wingers are called roving offensive blades.

    Quintero is 5’6″, sure not another who can’t defend at corners. Just opening ourselves up, we are.

  58. mickydidit89 says:

    “roving offensive blades” is superb 🙂

    The all fit 1st XI is easy apart from LW

    ??? Sanchez Theo
    ..Arteta Ramsey
    …Back Five

  59. chás says:

    I’m not sure Sanchez is a primary goal assassin just yet. Give it a year under new tutelage, maybe.

  60. mickydidit89 says:

    He is. Don’t you listen to a word Arsene says? 🙂

    He will play right blade until Theo’s better, then middle.

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Look, he tried to get Suarez a year ago, and I doubt he was going to play him left back, more likely striker.

    Ditto Sanchez.

  62. mickydidit89 says:

    In fact I’m already getting a little worried that Arsene doesn’t know what he’s doing. Just signing little people willy nilly 🙂

  63. chás says:

    So “he can play through in the middle in some games” means he’s now a centre forward. 😆

  64. chás says:

    At least little people are easier to integrate.

  65. chás says:

    Have you seen the “Meet the new boys” video on Arsenal Player?
    Joel Campbell might be able to play left slicing blade.

  66. chás says:

    Hi Ho, it is.

  67. mickydidit89 says:

    “At least little people are easier to integrate”

    Mmmm, fair point. You can certainly fit more of them in.

    Forgot about Joel. Maybe left slicer indeed.

    And morning Peaches 🙂

  68. What’s with the ‘blades and slicers’?

  69. Eddie is waiting for her new broadband to come on after she fell out with BT and moved to sky

  70. mickydidit89 says:

    Ha ha ha,

    So Eddie fell out with the now pro Arsenal BT, and has no broadband because the Sky company she signed up with have to send her juice down a BT line, whose owners have marked our Eddie down as lowest possible priority 🙂

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    Do we have a post?
    If not, what the hell has Crystals been doing? Lazy, I reckon 🙂

  72. If I stay away for long enough I’m sure he’ll spring into action 🙂

  73. However, we have another part of arnie’s Arsenal Olympic Footballers that we can use today.

  74. I’ve just looked for tickets for the Emirates cup and they’ve sold out!!!!! Didn’t they realise that I had to clear my head of court cases and Sheriffs before I even thought about going 😦

  75. We have a New Post …………………

  76. mickydidit89 says:

    Some on exchange. Use my cards if you like.

  77. Rochelle says:

    I think that everything published made a great deal of sense.
    However, consider this, suppose you added a little information? I am not saying your information isn’t good., but what if you added a post title that makes people desire more?
    I mean R.I.P – Alex Forbes 1925-2014 | Arsenal
    Arsenal is a little plain. You might peek at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create
    news titles to get viewers to click. You might try adding a
    video or a related picture or two to grab people interested about everything’ve got to
    say. Just my opinion, it would make your website a little livelier.

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