Bilston, Staffordshire born centre forward Reg Lewis was raised in South London Lewis and spent his entire professional career at Arsenal. He started in amateur football with Nunhead in 1935 before moving to Dulwich Hamlet, and joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1935, and scored on his Football League debut against Everton on 1st January 1938 in a 2-1 victory at Highbury. He made only four appearances in 1937-38 however, and as a result missed out on a League Championship winners’ medal. Lewis broke into the first-team more in 1938-39, making 16 appearances in League and cup, scoring 7 goals, but the advent of the Second World War interrupted his career. It’s easy to argue that but for the intervention of the Second World War, with 7 years of football lost, Reg Lewis could have been Arsenal’s greatest goalscorer.
During the War Lewis continued to play for Arsenal and shone as a natural goalscorer. Although wartime appearances and goals are not officially counted, Lewis scored 143 goals in 130 games, including four in the 1943 War Cup Southern Final, in a 7-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic. Towards the end of the War he served in the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany, but returned to play for Arsenal once peacetime football resumed in 1946.
On 24th August 1946 an additional fixture was arranged between England and Scotland with all proceeds going to the Bolton Disaster Fund. Lewis was called up to replace the injured Tommy Lawton.
Although most of the Arsenal side of the 1930’s were past their best by this time, Lewis was still only 26 and he continued to be a regular in the first team throughout the remainder of the 1940’s. He was the club’s top scorer in 1946-47 with a prolific 29 goals in only 28 games, and the following 1947-48 season, he partnered new signing Ronnie Rooke and between them they scored 47 goals as Arsenal won the 1948 League Championship. Lewis continued to be a regular for the rest of the decade and he enjoyed arguably his best season in 1949-50, when he scored 19 goals in 31 League games and 3 more in their Cup run that led to Wembley. Lewis then capped it altogether by scoring both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.
He then played twice for the England B on their European tour, playing in a 5-0 defeat to Italy in Milan in May 1950 and scoring both goals in a 2-1 win in Luxembourg 10 days later.
However, during the early 1950’s, Lewis became constantly afflicted with injuries, and he made only 12 appearances in 1951-52, when although he scored 4 goals in that season’s Cup run that would lead to defeat in the Final, he missed the Final itself having played in the semi final against Chelsea, and then none at all in 1952-53. In the close season of 1953, he retired from the game at the age of 33. His 119 goals in 178 matches makes him Arsenal’s twelfth highest goalscorer of all time.
NB In the photograph he is in the centre with team mates Ronnie Rooke on the left and Laurie Scott on the right.