Trust Member Tells of Meeting Fred Keenor – And Getting His Autograph

Cardiff City Team 1921-22

Trust member John Jones responded to our appeal for memories from fans as we had to the centenary of Cardiff City’s first Football League game on October 28th, 2020.

John wrote: “This is a picture of the 1922 team that was given to me as a lad by my auntie. A few years later when I was 13 I got to meet Fred Keenor at the old people’s home in Gabalfa.

Signed by 1927 FA Cup winning skipper Fred Keenor

“He talked to me about the squad. He knew all their names, and as you can see he autographed the back of the photo for me. I’m now 61 but the memories of meeting the captain of the only football side to take the cup out of England has stayed with me all my life.”

Trust board member Rob Jeffrey has done a bit of research on the photograph.

Rob said: “It was taken on October 29, 1921 at Ninian Park. The background is the Canton Stand which had been built the previous season, our first in the Football League.

“The opponents that day were West Brom. We won 2-0 in front of 35,000. Both goals were scored by Jimmy Gill,  who was signed for a City record fee of £750 from Sheffield Wednesday the previous season.

The players in the photo are Back Row: Jimmy Nelson, Herbie Evans, Ben Davies, Jimmy Blair, Fred Keenor
Front Row: Eddie Jenkins, Billy Grimshaw, Jimmy Gill, Fred Pagnam, Joe Clennell, Jack Evans

“The game was the debut of Jimmy Nelson who went on to play in the 1925 and 1927 Cup Finals

“The only other bit of trivia I know is that Fred Pagnam, the gentleman with the ball at his feet was declared a deserter in WW1. The reality of the desertion was that he went home on leave in 1918 and didn’t return when he was supposed to, went missing for 5 day, so technically desertion, he eventually gave himself up. Because he handed himself in no further action was taken and he returned to the front. He later went into management and managed the Turkey national team.”

John Jones recalled Fred Keenor naming the team and the one person that stuck in his mind was the goalkeeper Tom Farquharson.

Responding Rob added: “Irishman Tom Farquharson (who lived in Allensbank Road) made more appearances in goal than any other City goalkeeper. He was imprisoned in Dublin in 1919 for his IRA activities and was only released on bail on the understanding that he left Ireland.

“He ended up in South Wales and was spotted by the City when he was playing for Abertillery Town and was signed by us. Always afraid that his IRA past would catch up with him he carried a gun in his kitbag, a fact attested by several of his City team mates. He made his debut for the City against Manchester United on 6 May 1922 more than 6 months after your photo was taken.

“Undoubtedly Fred Keenor played for nine years with Tom Farquharson behind him in goal so will have figured prominently in his career but, when he named the team perhaps his memory was not as it once was as the the goalkeeper in the picture is definitely Ben Davies,” explained Rob.