Arsenal’s Century Club – Reg Lewis
Reginald (Reg) Lewis was born in Bilston on 7th March 1920. He played local football for Nunhead and Dulwich Hamlet Juniors before joining Arsenal as a professional in March 1937.
Lewis scored on his debut against Everton on 1st January 1938. He joined a team that included Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood, George Male, Ted Drake, Leslie Jones, George Swindin, George Hunt, Bernard Joy, Alf Kirchen, Leslie Compton and Dennis Compton.
However, as Lewis was only 18 and Ted Drake was the first-team centre-forward, he was only given four games in the 1937-38 season. The following season he created a club record by scoring 43 goals in 31 games for the reserves. He also scored 7 goals in 15 first-team appearances.
In 1945 Lewis was a member of the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany. He continued to play for Arsenal and shone as a natural goal scorer; although wartime appearances and goals are not officially counted, he scored 143 goals in 130 games, including four in the 1943 War Cup Southern Final, in a 7-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic. Towards the end of the war he served in the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany, but returned to play for Arsenal once first-class football resumed in 1946. Although most of the Arsenal side of the 1930s were past their best by this time, Reg was still only 26 and he continued to be a regular in the first team throughout the remainder of the 1940s. He was the club’s top scorer in 1946-47 with 29 goals this included a hat-trick against Preston North End and four against Grimsby Town. Jeff Harris, the author of Arsenal Who’s Who, argues: “His ability and knack of scoring goals were attributed to his fine positional sense when finding space in the box as well as being cool, calm and collected.”
The following season (1947-48), he partnered new signing Ronnie Rooke and between them they scored 47 goals as Arsenal won the First Division title; however, Lewis suffered from a series of injuries that year but still scored 14 goals in 28 games.
In the first game I watched at Highbury on November 22nd 1947 – GN5 was fortunate to see Reg Lewis play. Also playing that day were – Jimmy Logie, Wally Barnes, Les Compton, Ronnie Rooke, Don Roper and Doug Lishman. Rooke and Logie both scored in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield).
Despite only playing 25 games in the 1948-49 season he still ended up as top scorer with 16 goals. In the 1949-50 season Lewis scored 19 goals in 31 games. He also scored both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.
During the early 1950s, Lewis became constantly afflicted with injuries, and he made only 12 appearances in 1951-52 and none at all in 1952-53. In the close season of 1953, he retired from the game at the age of 33. After retiring he first ran a pub and then worked in insurance.
His tally of 118 in 176 first-team games puts him 13th in the all-time list but his total figure from 1935 to 1953 was a staggering 392 in 451 matches (an incredible .87 goals per game). His finest hour came in the 1950 FA Cup final, when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Reg scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Huddersfield, at their Leeds Road ground, on January 20, 1951.
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|
Reg Lewis passed away in his 77th year in1997.