Vivian Woodward

Vivian Woodward
Personal information
Full name Vivian John Woodward
Date of birth 3 June 1879
Place of birth Kennington, London, England
Date of death 31 January 1954(1954-01-31) (aged 74)
Place of death Ealing, England
Height 6' 2" (1.89 m)
Playing position Centre Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1895–1901 Clacton Town
1901–1909 Tottenham Hotspur 132 (63)
1909–1915 Chelsea 106 (30)
1919–1920 Clacton Town 6 (4)
National team
1903–1911 England 23 (29)
1906–1914 England Amateurs 44 (57)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Vivian John Woodward (3 June 1879 – 31 January 1954) was an English amateur football player who enjoyed the peak of his career from the turn of the 20th century to the outbreak of the First World War. He played for Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

He captained Great Britain to gold medals at the 1908 Olympics in London and in Stockholm in 1912. Woodward's tally of 29 goals in 23 matches for England remained a record from 1911 to 1958.

He served in the British Army during the First World War, and as a result missed out on Chelsea's run to their first-ever FA Cup final in 1915. Woodward's injuries during the war caused his retirement from football.

Club career

An architect by profession, Woodward began his career at Clacton Town Football Club and joined FA Cup-holders Tottenham Hotspur in 1901.[1]

Woodward joined David Calderhead's Chelsea in 1909 and went on to play in a total of 116 games for them, scoring 34 goals.[2] He was their leading scorer in the 1912–13 season with 10 goals.[3]

At the start of the First World War he enlisted in the British Army, and as a result did not play many matches during the 1914–15 season, but he was given special leave to join Chelsea at Old Trafford for the Cup Final when Bob Thomson was injured.[4] However Thomson recovered and Woodward refused to play and deny Thomson his chance to play in an FA Cup final as Woodward had not played in any of Chelsea's matches in their run to the final.[5]

Woodward was injured later in the war and did not return to top class football.

International career

He made his England debut in 1903, scoring twice in a 4-0 defeat of Ireland. Between 1903 and 1911, he won 23 full caps and scored 29 goals, setting an English record that would last until the 1950s. He also played in three unofficial international matches against South Africa in 1910, scoring a further four goals. At the time, England only usually played three matches a season, for the British Home Championship, but two tours to central Europe in 1908 and 1909 netted Woodward 15 goals (over half his total). He held the overall England goalscoring record, either jointly or alone, for 47 years – longer than any other player until surpassed by Bobby Charlton in 2014. With his 28th and 29th goals, the last of his career, he overhauled Steve Bloomer against Wales in March 1911, and was not himself overtaken until Tom Finney scored his 30th (and last) goal in October 1958.

He also turned out 44 times for England Amateurs and scored 57 goals, most of them against inferior European teams. In one match against France in 1906, the Times and Sporting Life credit Woodward with eight goals in a 15-0 win, although FIFA's official record of the match credits him with only four goals. However he did score six against Netherlands in 1909. 30 of his amateur appearances and 44 goals were in matches recognized as full internationals by FIFA and the opposition's Football Associations, though not by the FA.

Olympic career

Woodward was Great Britain captain at the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, both of which Great Britain won.

Military career

He joined the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. This was one of the Pals battalion formed during the early stages of World War I. It was known as a "Footballers Battalion" and it included many members of Woodward's former team Tottenham Hotspur. He served on the Western Front and was wounded in 1916.[6] He reached the rank of Captain.[7]

Career statistics


Club performance League FA Cup Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1900-01 Tottenham Hotspur 2 2
1901-02 2 0
1902-03 12 4
1903-04 17 10
1904-05 20 7
1905-06 12 5
1906-07 20 7
1907-08 20 10
1908-09 Second Division 27 18
1909-10 Chelsea[9] First Division 13 5 2 0 15 5
1910-11 Second Division 19 6 3 3 22 9
1911-12 14 2 0 0 14 2
1912–13 First Division 27 10 3 1 30 11
1913–14 27 4 2 0 29 4
1914–15 6 3 0 0 6 3
Career total 238 93


  1. A Romance of football page 29 Retrieved 23 March 2008
  2. Glanvill, Rick (2006). Chelsea FC: The Official Biography – The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years. Headline Book Publishing Ltd. p. 410. ISBN 0-7553-1466-2.
  3. Glanvill, Rick (2006). Chelsea FC: The Official Biography – The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years. Headline Book Publishing Ltd. p. 380. ISBN 0-7553-1466-2.
  4. Unknown (1915). Cup Final Programme.
  5. Glanvill, Rick (2006). Chelsea FC: The Official Biography – The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years. Headline Book Publishing Ltd. p. 181. ISBN 0-7553-1466-2.
  6. "Soccer Soldiers". National Army Museum. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  7. "Issue 31370". London Gazette. 30 May 1919. p. 19.
  8. Vivian Woodward at

Further reading

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