England Football Online
Goalkeepers Index Page Last Updated
8 February 2023

Herby Arthur

Blackburn Rovers FC

7 appearances, 4 goals against
3 clean sheets, one error

P 7 W 4 D 3 L 0 F 21: A 4
79% successful

captain: none
minutes played:

  William John Herbert Arthur
  Herby in the following publications:- Cricket & Football Field (9 Feb 1889 - Bolton) UFCN (22 Feb 1895), Association Football And The Men Who Made It (1905), History of the Blackburn Rovers Football Club 1875-1925 (C Francis), and A Few Recollections Of Sport (W.Pickford 1938).
Birth Saturday, 14 February 1863 in Blackburn, Lancashire
  registered in Blackburn January-March 1863.

According to the 1871 census, William JH is the eldest of three sons to William Donothorne and Elizabeth M. (née Penwarden), all living at Alma Street, Blackburn.


According to the 1881 census, the 18 year-old William John Herbert now lives at 16 Montague Street, Blackburn. Herbie is an assistant to his father in his business, a Leather Dealer.

to Elizabeth Ann Taylor, on 10 September 1891 at St. Paul's Church, Blackburn.
  registered in Blackburn July-September 1891.
"MARRIAGE OF MR. HERBY ARTHUR.―On Thursday afternoon, Mr. W. J. H. Arthur was married to Miss Elizabeth Ann (San) Taylor, 177, Preston new-road, Blackburn, daughter of the late Mr. Robert Taylor. The ceremony was solemnised by the Rev. J. A. Rushton in St. Paul's Church, a large number being present to witness the event. Mr. Lamb, the organist of All Saints' Church, presided at the organ, and effectively rendered Mendelsohn's 'Wedding March.' The presents were rich and numerous, amongst them being a handsome marble timepiece from the Lancashire Football Association." - Blackburn Standard/Preston Herald, Saturday, 12 September 1891.
Children: Herby and Elizabeth Arthur had two children together. Gladys Mary (b.1894) and Robert William Herbert (b.1896).

According to the 1891 census, William JH lives at 3 Dukes Brow in Blackburn, still with his parents and brothers. Still in the Leather business.

According to the 1901 census, William JH has married Elizabeth Ann, and has two children, Gladys and Robert. Lives in Pine Villas, Mollington Road in Blackburn and now in charge of his Father's business.

(His father died in the early part of 1909)
According to the 1911 census, Herbert Arthur is still in Pine Villas with his wife and two children. At 48 years old, he is now a Leather Merchant traveller.
(His mother died after 1911 and his youngest, Robert William died on 9 June 1917, shortly after, his eldest, Gladys, died on 10 December 1918)

According to the 1921 census, Herbert, a leather merchant for Halker & Sons, and Elizabeth Ann, are now living at The Bungalow on Mere Road in Blackpool.
(Elizabeth Arthur died in early 1924)
Death: Thursday, 27 November 1930 at the nursing home, 259 Hornby Road, Blackpool, Lancashire.
aged 67 and 287 days registered as John W H in Fylde October-December 1930.


"'Herby' Arthur, the most famous goalkeeper the Blackburn Rovers ever had, died last night in Blackpool nursing home at the age of 67 years. He had been removed from his home, 44, Mere-road, Blackpool, for an operation for internal trouble. He passed away before the operation was performed." -  
Lancashire Evening Post, Friday, 28 November 1930.


"A verdict of 'Misadventure' in accordance with the medical evidence was returned at an inquest at Blackpool, to-day, on John William Herbert Arthur, the well-known former Blackburn Rovers' player, who died in a Blackpool nursing home yesterday while under an anæsthetic. Dr. English, who said Arthur was 67 years of age, told the Coroner he had been ill for about 10 days. On Thursday he was desperately ill with acute abdominal pains. He was removed to a nursing home for an operation for peritonitis, but he died under an anæsthetic before the operation could be carried out. Mrs. Arthur, the widow, said her husband was a commercial traveller, and had enjoyed fairly good health up to about 10 days ago when he complained of pains. He was medically attended, and last Sunday his health seemed to improve. On Thursday, however, he was taken violently ill, and removed to a nursing home. The Coroner (Col. H. Parker) said from the doctor's evidence he gathered that when Arthur was removed to the nursing home it was a case of forlorn hope."
 - Lancashire Evening Post, Saturday, 29 November 1930
Funeral midday, 2 December 1930, at Mellor Village Churchyard. Service conducted by Rev. F.G. Harris, B.A. The congregation included relatives, old footballers past and present, as well as past and present directors of Blackburn Rovers FC.
Probate "ARTHUR William John Herbert of The Bungalow Mere-road Blackpool died 27 November 1930 at 259 Hornby-road Blackpool Probate London 9 January to Mary Jane Arthur widow.
Effects £1967 7s. 6d." [2019 equivalent: £129,538].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Who's Who [1990], Ian-opc &

Playing Career

Club(s) Played for local Blackburn side's, Lower Bank Academy FC and King's Own FC before joining Blackburn Rovers FC as a right-half during 1880-81 season.  Volunteered to play in goal for the reserve side, where he remained. Joined Southport Central FC in the 1890-91 season, before returning to Rovers the following season. He left Rovers at the end of 1891-92 season after thirty league appearances.
League History
40 appearances
Blackburn Rovers FC 1888-92, forty appearances
debut: 15 September 1888 Blackburn Rovers FC 5 Accrington FC 5.
last: 1 October 1892 Blackburn Rovers FC 3 Accrington FC 3.
Club honours FA Cup winners 1883-84, 1884-85, 1885-86, 1889-90 (0ᵃ);
Football League third place 1889-90 (4ᵃ)
Individual honours None
Distinctions "Burnley was the scene on December 12th, 1891, of an incident with which Arthur's name will ever be associated. Sir Charles Clegg, now the president of the Football Association, was the referee, and in a blinding snowstorm Burnley led at half-time by three goals. The second half had not been long in progress when two players, between whom there had been earlier friction, squared up again. Both men received marching orders. The whole of the Rovers team, with the exception of Arthur, followed to the dressing-room, and could not be persuaded to return. Thereupon, Mr. Clegg, as he then was, directed Burnley to recommence the game―with 'Herby' Arthur against ten men. In this predicament the goalkeeper successfully claimed for offside, and rallied so long in taking the free kick that the referee applied the closure." -  Lancashire Evening Post, Friday, 28 November 1930.
Height/Weight not known.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] & ENFA.

England Career

Player number One of five who became the 115th players (115) to appear for England.
Position(s) Goalkeeper; sixteenth goalkeeper to appear.
First match No. 23, 28 February 1885, England 4 Ireland 0, a British Championship match at Manchester Football Ground, Whalley Range, Manchester, aged 22 years 14 days.
Last match No. 30, 26 February 1887, England 4 Wales 0, a British Championship match at Surrey Cricket Ground, The Oval, Kennington, London, aged 24 years 12 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1884-85, 1885-86, 1886-87;
Team honours British Championship winners 1885-86;
Individual honours The North (one appearance 1ᵍᵃ, January 1885, a reserve in 1886 and withdrew in 1888)
The Gentlemen (one appearance 3ᵍᵃ, December 1886,)
Distinctions With his final England appearance, Arthur becomes England's most used goalkeeper, a record previously held by Albemarle Swepstone since 1883. He held the record until 1900, although it was shared with Billy Moon from 1891.
Created a new record when it took 127 minutes to score past Arthur, and thus becoming just the second keeper to keep a clean sheet on his full debut

Beyond England

Employed as a mill furnisher and a commercial traveller (together?). - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.13.
"A native of Blackburn, Mr. Arthur was engaged as a mill furnisher. Later he had business interests in Manchester, was an official of the Lancashire Automobile Club, ,and the Manchester and North of England Orchid Society. He was a member of the committee which organised Blackpool's Flower Show in the summer of 1927." - Lancashire Evening Post, Friday, 28 November 1930.

The Numbers
parties Apps comp
minutes Goals
GA ave.min Comp GA clean sheets clean
sheet ave.
9 7 7 630 4 158 min 4 3 42.9% none
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
7 4 3 0 21 4 +17 0 3 3 0.571 78.6 +4
All of his matches were played in the British Championship competition

Venue Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 5 3 2 0 17 2 +15 0 3 3.40 0.20 80.0 +3
Away 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 0 0 2.00 1.00 75.0 +1

Tournament Matches

British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1884-85 3 1 2 0 6 2 +4 0 1 2.00 0.667 66.7 +1
BC 1885-86 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 0 0 2.00 1.00 75.0 +1
BC 1886-87 2 2 0 0 11 0 +11 0 2 5.50 0.00 100.0 +2
BC 1887-88 0 0 0 0 0 0 =0 0 0 0.00 0.00 00.0 =0
BC All 7 4 3 0 21 4 +17 0 3 3.00 0.571 78.6 +4

All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 7 4 3 0 21 4 +17 0 3 3.00 0.571 78.6 +4
7 4 3 0 21 4 +17 0 3 3 0.571 78.6 +4

Match History

 Club: Blackburn Rovers F.C. - seven full appearances (630 min) 4ᵍᵃ F.A. Committee - seven full appearances (630 min) 4ᵍᵃx

Age 21 trial  
one appearance - The North vs. The South, 31 January 1885.

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

Age 22
1 23 28 February 1885 - England 4 Ireland 0
Manchester Football Ground, Whalley Range
BC HW   gk

one of five who became the 115th player (115) to appear for England
one of two who became the seventh player from Blackburn Rovers FC to represent England
The sixteenth goalkeeper to play for England - second competitive
the second goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet on his debut - first competitive.

2 24 14 March 1885 - England 1 Wales 1
Leamington Street, Blackburn (home ground)
BC HD 1ᵍᵃ
cs: 127min

first gk to play 127 minutes without conceding a goal - a new record

3 25 21 March 1885 - England 1 Scotland 1
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
BC HD 1ᵍᵃ gk

reserve - The South vs. The North, 30 January 1886;

Age 23
4 27 27 March 1886 - Scotland 1 England 1
Hampden Park, Glasgow

AD 1ᵍᵃ gk
5 28 29 March 1886 - Wales 1 England 3
The Racecourse, Wrexham
AW 1ᵍᵃ gk
ᵍᵃlow shot

one appearance - The Players vs. The Gentlemen, December 1886;

6 29 5 February 1887 - England 7 Ireland 0
Yorkshire Cricket Ground, Sheffield
BC HW   gk

the second goalkeeper to make six England appearances
the second goalkeeper to keep two clean sheets - first competitive.

Age 24
7 30 26 February 1887 - England 4 Wales 0
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
BC HW cs: 228min gk

the first goalkeeper to make seven England appearances
the first goalkeeper to keep three clean sheets
extended his clean sheet record to 228 minutes

31 19 March 1887 - England 2 Scotland 3, Leamington Street, Blackburn (home ground) BC HL reserve

  F.A. International Selection Committee - no full appearancesx

withdrew - The South vs. The North, 14 January 1888;

32 4 February 1888 - Wales 1 England 5, Alexandra Recreation Ground, Crewe BC AW reserve

will hold the most goalkeeper appearance record until 1900
will hold the clean sheet records (3 matches & 228 minutes) also until 1895