England Football Online
Goalkeepers Index Page Last Updated
2 May 2019

Herby Arthur

Blackburn Rovers FC

7 appearances, 4 goals against
3 clean sheets

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

captain: none
minutes played:

  William John Herbert Arthur

Generally known as..

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 as William John Herbert Arthur in Blackburn, 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, 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.
They had eight children, Janet, John, Robert, William, Emma Jane, Harry, Elizabeth and Ruben.

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.

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.

Death Thursday, 27 November 1930 at the nursing home, 259 Hornby Road, Blackpool, aged 67 and 287 days [registered as John W H Arthur in Fylde, Lancashire, December 1930]. He was living at The Bungalow, Mere Road in Blackpool.


"'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 at Mellor Village churchyard at midday, 2 December 1930. 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 (no appearances);
Football League third place 1889-90 (4)
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;
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
minutes are approximation, due to the fact that many matches rarely stuck to exactly ninety minutes long, allowing time for injuries and errors.
7 4 3 0 21 4 +17 0 3 3.00 0.571 78.6 +4

Match Record

Venue & Competition P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts % W/L
Home British Championship 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 Championships 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 3.00 0.571 78.6 +4

Match History

 Club: Blackburn Rovers F.C. - seven full appearances (630 min)

F.A. Committee (Charles Alcock) - seven full appearances (630 min)x

Age 22
1 23 28 February 1885 - England 4 Ireland 0, Manchester Football Ground, Manchester BC HW Start gk
2 24 14 March 1885 - England 1 Wales 1, Leamington Street, Blackburn BC HD Start gk
3 25 21 March 1885 - England 1 Scotland 1, The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington BC HD Start gk

Age 23
4 27 27 March 1886 - Scotland 1 England 1, Hampden Park, Glasgow BC AD Start gk
5 28 29 March 1886 - Wales 1 England 3, The Racecourse, Wrexham AW Start gk
6 29 5 February 1887 - England 7 Ireland 0, Yorkshire Cricket Ground, Sheffield BC HW Start gk

Age 24
7 30 26 February 1887 - England 4 Wales 0, The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington BC HW Start gk
31 19 March 1887 - England 2 Scotland 3, Leamington Street, Blackburn BC HL reserve


F.A. International Selection Committee - no full appearancesx

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