Southampton born centre forward Ted Drake began his football career at Hampshire League Winchester City in 1930, signing for George Kay’s Second Division Southampton, Drake’s hometown club, as an amateur in June 1931, representing Hampshire in September 1931. Drake made his Football League debut, and turned professional the same month, at Swansea Town in November 1931. By the end of March 1932 Drake had established himself in Southampton’s first eleven, scoring at least 20 goals in each of the next two seasons, his first hat-trick coming when he scored all three goals in their 3-0 victory over Grimsby Town in October 1932. A further hat-trick came on the first day of the next season in a 4-1 win over Bradford City.
He had already scored 23 goals when he trod the now well worn path to greatness from Southampton to North London when he joined Arsenal in March 1934 for £6,500, scoring on his Arsenal debut in a 3-2 win over Wolves. Three years at Southampton had produced 48 goals in 74 appearances, a fantastic 143 goals in 185 games would follow for The Gunners, and most celebrated among his feats is his 7 goals at Villa Park on 14th December 1935, still an unequalled feat in top flight football. He even managed to score 4 goals on his final Arsenal appearance, in a 5-2 win over Sunderland at the start of September 1939, immediately before peacetime football was abandoned due to the outbreak of the Second World War. He scored 4 goals on another six occasions for The Gunners and also managed five hat-tricks.
He scored a remarkable 44 goals in 1934-35, his first full season at Arsenal, also finishing as the League’s top scorer with 42 of those goals coming in League matches, finishing as The Gunners’ leading goalscorer in each of his five full seasons at Highbury. He scored the winner in the 1936 FA Cup Final as Arsenal beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Wembley. He won the League Championship twice with Arsenal in 1935 and 1938 and the FA Cup in 1936, and the Charity Shield in 1934 and 1938.
He scored 6 goals in his 5 England caps between November 1934, when he scored on his international debut in a 3-2 win over Italy at Highbury, and May 1938, when he scored twice in Paris against France, his other 3 England goals being a hat-trick in a 6-2 win against Hungary at Highbury in December 1936.
During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force and played as a guest for West Ham United, Leicester City and Fulham but he retired from playing due to a spinal injury suffered in a match with Reading in August 1945. He scouted for Arsenal and then became the manager of non league Hendon, Arsenal’s nursery club, in October 1946, with the resumption of peacetime football. He spent five years as manager of Reading from June 1947, leading the club to the runners up spot in Division Three (South) in 1948-49 and again in 1951-52, though at the time only the Champions were promoted. He became the manager of Chelsea in June 1952, a position he held until September 1961, winning the League Championship with Chelsea in 1955. In so doing he became the first man to both have played in and also to have managed a League Championship winning team. He assisted Vic Buckingham at Barcelona between September 1969 and June 1970. In October 1972 Drake returned to Fulham as coach of the reserve team and to scout for Alec Stock. He remained until at least 1979.
Ted Drake’s testimonial match was played between Arsenal and Fulham on 11th September 1979, in front of 3,035 at Craven Cottage, earning him £5,000.
He also played first class cricket for Hampshire from 1931 to 1936. He made his debut for Hampshire against Glamorgan in 1931 and shared a vital stand of 86 with Phil Mead. He made 45 but never reached this score again in the 15 further matches he played over the next six years, first as an amateur and then as a professional.
Drake’s son Bobby played 15 times as a full back for Fulham between 1963 and 1968.