Ted Drake Was My Great Grandfather

17 year old descendent of the legendary 1930s Arsenal forward on his feelings for the club

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Ted Drake in typical action back in the 1930s at Highbury

As a wise man and Arsenal Legend once said, “don’t sit there waiting for your luck to come back to you, go out and fight for it and it’ll soon be back.” That wise man was and is my Great Grandad Ted Drake! A man who holds the league record for the most goals scored in a top flight game of English football, the most goals scored in one season for the best football club in the world and the first man to win the English top tier title as player and then manager. Is there a better ex Arsenal player than Thierry Henry that you can say you are related to? I think quite not but my opinion doesn’t sum up everybody else’s quite honestly!

My name is Liam Harding and since day one I simply didn’t have an opinion on what football team I wanted to support, in fact after realising Arsenal loyalty was in my blood I really didn’t want to differ to the rest of my family. Apart from my Uncle who is a diehard Tottenham fan, and somehow enjoys going to watch the other side of North London play in an arena which goes by a number of different names (which I would rather not repeat for my own sake and others!). At the end of the day football isn’t just a game played for 90 minutes, it’s a game played for 90 minutes with continuous respect from those on and off the pitch. However I am also a massive non-league fan and if anything I would urge many more fans - whether they are Tottenham or Manchester United - to get down to their local non-league club and support them. It is only us (the fans of these unpopulated sides) who are keeping these non-league clubs going, as they would crumble without our match day contributions. In fact I more than regularly go down and watch my local non-league team Basingstoke Town, when I’m not attending Arsenal games. To be quite honest my granddad and I are proud season ticket holders at Basingstoke Town. A club on the verge of collapsing without at the moment a stadium built for them or any sort of financial backing to themselves, after their owner sold their ground to build a new fancy hotel on while ditching the club at the same time. Selfish indeed. However let’s get back to Arsenal!

I have always been a football fan but I am also an avid Formula one fan. When I was a young boy I was always enquiring about going to watch an Arsenal match at home. However I was told I was too young to go! And that with the massive overflow before and after the game on the underground, as well as coming out of the stadium after the game that there was a gigantic possibility that I could be lost. I didn’t fall for that scaremongering though! Truthfully I felt quite the opposite about the journey to and from Arsenal. I kept pestering and finally at the age of 11 I was taken up to Arsenal by my granddad, who is one of three sons of Ted Drake to watch Arsenal v Galatasary in the Emirates Cup. That game saw us lose 2-1 and the cup to the Turkish side, but I still remember the feeling that I had acquired while visiting the ground. An indescribable feeling that I still only retain while going up to watch my beloved club. That feeling holds a sense of pride, love, willingness and eternity that no matter what happens to this mouth watering club I’m still Arsenal till I die. Even when I criticise or terrifyingly admit that we deserved to lose, and that we didn’t play good enough football to win. Although every time I see my Great Grandad on the outside of the stadium, all those opinions seem to mentally diminish as I feel joyous about what he accomplished for himself and the club in the 1930s. He may have gone on and won the league for Chelsea (our second biggest London rivals) but I hold no hard feelings towards them, likewise anyone else apart from Tottenham sometimes!

As well as playing football I also thoroughly enjoy writing football. It would be a dream come true, if one day all my hard work resulted in me being a football Journalist. I mean my great granddad wanted to be a professional footballer and that eventually broke through for him, which is a difficult position to conquer. So why couldn’t I be a football Journalist? Never say never, this season I have already completed my 21 articles for the St Mirren match day programme series on English League Champions. And I also write the BetVictor South Southern Premier review for the Hendon Programme. In addition I run my Arsenal YouTube Channel, called Harding Speaks Arsenal and an Instagram account called gooner_liam_harding, which after two years has close to 3,000 thankful followers. But what means the most to me is last season I was actually able to have a page on myself in the Arsenal v Chelsea matchday programme last season. Every day I think of my great granddad and about how he achieved his life goals. He makes me realise that miracles do happen, as well as giving me daily motivation on how to seal my life goals too! I am forever thankful to be related to such an icon, considering when I go to the Arsenal supporters club before and after the game there is no one else there that is related to a once Arsenal great.

Being the wonderful age of 17 it has been impossible for me to meet Ted Drake, as he died seven years before I was born. However he will always live on in my mind!


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  1. Moscowgooner

    Sep 23, 2019, 20:36 #114957

    Exiled in PT - seven at Villa Park in 1935/6 , in a 7-1 victory - but you are right: he should have had an eighth (with VAR!); his shot came down off the crossbar at the Holte End, was supposed to have crossed the line before the keeper cleared but the referee waved play on.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Sep 19, 2019, 12:14 #114914

    Highbury and Arsenal was 'of one'. A special stadium, like no other. The E and W stands were so unique weren't they. 2006 marked the time AFC entered into the new football climate. It doesn't sit too well with them. The clubs identity went too. So many great memories from Highbury afternoons and nights. Always felt privileged to watch football there and i think most fans felt linked and a part of the team in any given match. I hope the glass bowl eventually does the same for the fans who have picked up the baton.

  3. TonyEvans

    Sep 19, 2019, 11:34 #114913

    SKG1 - I agree, the loss of Highbury has been a major factor for me too. That and Wenger did for me in the end - it was like a long and painful divorce, my parting from the club I was devoted to. Now though I am comfortable with where I am with the club, and am glad I don't care like I used to, especially with the rubbish the team is serving up on a regular basis. That lovely old photo of the West Stand had me quietly reminiscing of times gone by. At least we still have our memories of lovely old Highbury.

  4. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Sep 19, 2019, 09:06 #114911

    Nice piece Liam - you are blessed to have such a great connection to a Arsenal star of the 30's. That is a great photo of Ted in action and the wonderful West Stand, were my father stood from 1948 to 1969, then they put in the seats and Dad and I joined the North Bank. I am realizing more and more that the decline in my love of Arsenal is because of leaving Highbury and the connection with such different times that have gone for ever.

  5. mbg

    Sep 18, 2019, 18:40 #114909

    A very good speak that from your great grandad Liam, way before my time too but I bet Ted Drake and the rest of them lads were never scared of opponents let alone came out and admited it, sadly that's the Arsenal we've been left with now.

  6. Redshirtwhitesleeves

    Sep 18, 2019, 17:30 #114908

    As a kid I used to love listening to my grandad (a sp*rs fan no less) telling me about Herbert Chapmans great 30’s team of Drake, Bastin, James, Hapgood, Male etc and the glorious marble halls of Highbury. Couldn’t get enough of it and it fuelled my passion for everything about Arsenal. God only knows what I’m going to tell my grand children...Eboue, Wally, Bendtner, Sylvester et all just doesn’t have the same ring about it!!

  7. TonyEvans

    Sep 18, 2019, 16:20 #114907

    Exiled - yes another great there in Cliff Bastin. My uncle must be turning in his grave with this current poor excuse for an Arsenal team.

  8. Exiled in Pt

    Sep 18, 2019, 14:05 #114906

    Hello Ron, i am very glad my Grandad has not had to witness this current shower , crikey i dread to think what he would of made of an American owning and running the club .....How times have changed

  9. itsRonagain2

    Sep 18, 2019, 12:05 #114905

    Exiled - Hi mate. I think you're absolutely right there. My Dad was always a Cliff Bastin man. Always used to wax lyrical about him but his enthusiasm for the 30s team was boundless. I suppose its because his early teen years were the most impressive football wise for him as it is for all of us. I know that my Dad now would be so very disappointed that the mythical magic and grandiosity of Arsenal FC has been so badly tarnished. He died a week after we beat Man Utd at OT in the FAC and we saw it on the TV together. He was very ill by then but he loved that. Im really pleased hes not seen the decline since.

  10. Exiled in Pt

    Sep 18, 2019, 11:52 #114904

    Dont forget Cliff Bastin , Tony !! I guess Liam here, is like my son named after the great Mr Brady too

  11. Exiled in Pt

    Sep 18, 2019, 11:45 #114903

    Now that is name dropping , use to love listening to my Grandad tell me all about Ted Drake . Your knowledge Ron of all things Arsenal is better than mine but did he not actually score 8 in that game but one was disallowed for some reason ?

  12. TonyEvans

    Sep 18, 2019, 11:42 #114902

    Amazing to have such an Arsenal icon as your Great Grandad! My uncle was a big fan in those days and would often talk about the amazing team we had in the 30s, especially (if I remember correctly) Ted Drake, Eddie Hapgood and Alex James.

  13. itsRonagain2

    Sep 18, 2019, 09:57 #114901

    What a nice article. Well written and a good read. As a kid, in the 60s i was always proud of the fact that my own Dad as a lad of about 11 or 12 saw TD score his 7 v Aston Villa in Birmingham. He stayed with his Grandad quite a lot in the Sutton Coldfield area and was lucky enough to be taken to VP and he was hooked on Arsenal forever afterwards.