Arsenal Centre Forward Ronnie Rooke

Ronald Leslie Rooke was born on December 7, 1911 in Guildford, Surrey.

His football career started with his local club Guildford City and he went on to play for Woking (1932–1933), Crystal Palace (1933–1936) & (1949–1950), Fulham (1936–1946), Arsenal (1946–1949) and Bedford Town (1950–1953). He then went to Haywards Heath Town and Addlestone as player manager before returning to Bedford Town (1956-1961).

During WW2 he served as a physical training instructor in the RAF. Rooke played as a centre forward and was a natural goal scorer scoring 170 goals in his 256 appearances (.664 GPG).

Arsenal were bottom of the table at Christmas and having signed Joe Mercer in November, we required some extra firepower up front, too. Rooke was signed in December of 1946 for £1,000 plus two players, Cyril Grant and Dave Nelson.  He was the ripe old age of 35 and had never played for a top flight team. He made an immediate impact by scoring the winner on his debut, against Charlton Athletic and by the end of the season had taken his total to 21 goals from 24 league matches (.875 GPG) and helped Arsenal finish in mid-table.

Courtesy of The Arsenal Collection

In the first game that I watched at Highbury (Nov 2, 1947) I was fortunate enough to see Rooke play against Huddersfield Town, Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Ronnie Rooke himself and Jimmy Logie. That season (1947/48) he scored 33 league goals a total that made him that season’s First Division top scorer; in the final game of the season he scored 4 goals in the 8-0 demolition of Grimsby.

As of 2018/19 he retains Arsenal’s all-time record for the most goals scored in a postwar season (33) and helped Arsenal win their sixth League title (1947/48). He finished his career at Arsenal in 1949 having scored 70 goals in only 94 games (.745 GPG)



29 Responses to Arsenal Centre Forward Ronnie Rooke

  1. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. Terrific. And what a player.

    Of course I knew of Ronnie Rooke but had no idea he was 35 y.o. when he signed for us.

    chas. Brilliant pics as always. How did you find that programme?

  2. Big Raddy says:

    Re this mornings vids. The Cilla/Bolan one was awkward and I may not like Billy Joel but that video was full of memories.

    I once went to a meet and greet with Billy Joel, He started by saying that despite being short and ugly he was able to marry the extremely beautiful Chrissie Brinkley, which according to him, was proof that fame and money are aphrodisiacs! May not like his music but a top bloke.

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks very much, GN5

    Exactly how old was Rooke “claiming” to be in that photo?

  4. chas says:

    Cheers, GN5.
    Excellent as always.

    This is the only clip of Ronnie Rooke I could find including a goal.
    It sounds a bit like the game was played in an interlull !!!

  5. chas says:

    Searched using ‘Arsenal Huddersfield 22nd November 1947’

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Thanks for the additions Chas, especially the programme, it brings back so much from the archives of my memory. I also love watching
    British Pathe video – I was possibly in that crowd.

    I wish I had it in my personal collection – it would take pride of place- but I’ve copied the image and I will print it out on heavy photo paper.

  7. chas says:

    Here’s link to another photo of it without the stamp across it.

  8. chas says:

    The site from which that photo comes is very interesting.

  9. GunnerN5 says:

    Thanks Chas I’ve copied both images.

  10. GunnerN5 says:

    Chas, who were Arsenal playing in your video, I cannot understand the commentator it sounded like he called them the French team.

    I’ve checked both league and cup games for both 1946/47 & 1947/48 and there were no 4-3 defeats shown, so you are correct it must have been a friendly of some sort..

  11. GunnerN5 says:

    I’m off for the day in a few hours, we will be with our family to celebrate our grandson’s 10th birthday. True to form he is already an Arsenal fan – my son has bought him an Arsenal kit for his birthday and we’ve got him an Arsenal football.

    If my knees were not shot I would go out on a kick about with him, but I will happily watch.

  12. RA says:

    Absolutely brilliant, GN5,

    Looking at all the players in that 1947/48 team photo, as if they were looking back at me, I wondered if you knew whether any of them are still alive.

    I guess the answer is ‘no’ as any survivors would be around 100 years old now, and that gives a reminder of how short our lives are.

    Thank you too, Chas, your ‘photos and vids make GN5’s wonderful Posts come to life, especially the colored team ‘photo by Dario Romano. (was he American? — I noticed the spelling at the bottom of the ‘photo.)

  13. RA says:

    Enjoy your family day out, GN5 — and good to learn your family are still steeped in Arsenal. 😀👍

  14. chas says:


    That game was part of a series of friendlies against Racing Club de Paris. See here.

  15. GunnerN5 says:

    Thanks Chas, I have absolutely zero recollection of those games, but given the sparse media coverage back then it’s not at all surprising.

  16. allezkev says:

    Wasn’t our 47/48 team, the oldest to ever win the English championship?

    Bryan Jones there, sitting first left, had a newsagents in Green Lanes, I got his autograph a couple of times, lovely gentleman.
    Jimmy Logie, sitting next to Jones, ended up selling newspapers outside of Leicester Square Tube station.

    Great post GN5

  17. fred1266 says:

    Hello everyone hope all is well

  18. Big Raddy says:

    Fred. Good to see you back. Are you fully recovered?

  19. fred1266 says:

    Yes I have finally

  20. fred1266 says:

    Currently watching Switzerland vs Georgia and Lichtsteiner actually looking decent

  21. fred1266 says:

    Xhaka getting an unnecessary yellow lol

  22. Big Raddy says:

    The Swiss manager said that Xhaka is the best Swiss footballer of his generation and they will build the team around him. He was very complimentary about Xhaka’s development at AFC

  23. fred1266 says:

    What national group games is this again?

  24. fred1266 says:

  25. LB says:

    Wow, what an amazing read, you remember your first game in 1947?
    I can’t remember who we played 3 weeks ago.

  26. chas says:

    Razor’s pished again

  27. chas says:

  28. chas says:


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