Southampton born goalkeeper Herbert Lock began his football career with local junior club St Mary’s Guild before joining Southampton in the summer of 1907. He immediately forced himself into the first team, replacing George Clawley who had retired. According to Holley & Chalk’s “The Alphabet of the Saints” he was “a daring and acrobatic goalkeeper who was also noted for his uncanny anticipation when facing penalty kicks”. He would pace up and down the goal line and eventually position himself slightly off-centre in the hope that the penalty taker would shoot towards the larger target. Lock would invariably anticipate correctly and would make the save. During the 1908-09 season he saved eight of the twelve penalty kicks he faced.
In the 1907-08 season he was the regular choice for goalkeeper and played an integral part in Saints’ run to the FA Cup semi-final. In the 4th round match at Everton on 7 March his heroics helped Saints to a 0-0 draw, denying Sandy Young late in the game by saving bravely at his feet. In the replay at The Dell on 11th March Saints took a 2-1 lead at half-time which they extended thanks to a “magnificent” goal from Frank Costello. Despite Everton pulling a goal back shortly afterwards, Lock and the rest of the Saints defence managed to keep the Everton forwards at bay and the Saints ran out 3–2 victors.
Lock was unable to play in the semi-final against the eventual Cup winners Wolverhampton Wanderers as a result of a serious injury sustained on 14th March 1908 in a Southern League match at Watford’s Cassio Road ground which put him out until the last fortnight of the season. The following season, he was once more the automatic choice for the ‘keeper’s shirt until he was again injured in the match at Cassio Road on 27th March 1909. he had been called into the England squad to play Scotland on 3rd April but was forced to withdraw injured. He never won an England cap. Lock vowed never to play at Cassio Road again and ensured that this would not happen by moving to Scotland to join Rangers in the 1909 close season after 55 Southern League appearances for Southampton.
At Rangers where he was to become a mainstay of their Championship winning sides over the next few years. He immediately became the first-choice ‘keeper replacing Harry Rennie and in the 1909-10 season he played in all but two of Rangers’ matches. The following season he was ever-present as Rangers took the title and in 1911-12 he only missed one League match as Rangers took the title for the third consecutive year. Thus, in his first three seasons, he only missed three out of a possible 112 League games.
He was considered to be on the reckless side, in terms of his own personal safety. A daring personality, he was expert at foiling forwards who had managed to run through on goal, leaving themselves “one on one” with the ‘keeper. Invariably, just as the forward was about to shoot, Lock would throw himself at his feet to block the attempt. This recklessness resulted in several injuries during his career. Injuries sustained in a Glasgow Cup match against Partick Thistle on 7th October 1912 put him out for the remainder of the season. He was replaced by John Hempsey and was unable to reclaim his No.1 jersey until 17th January 1914. On his return he kept clean sheets in seven of his first nine matches but the team missed out on the title to arch-rivals Celtic.
During the First World War he also played on loan for Kilmarnock (1916 and 1918), Ayr United (1917), St Mirren and Partick Thistle (both 1918).
Over the next few years injuries, and wartime work in the Glasgow shipyards, meant that he was in and out of the team and it was not until the 1919-20 season that he was again able to play a full complement of matches. His form this season was blistering and he kept clean sheets in 20 of the 35 League games he played. This included a run of ten games without conceding a goal from 24th January to 20th March 1920 as Rangers once again took the Scottish League Championship. Although he remained at Rangers until August 1921, he failed to appear for the first team in 1920-21 and returned to England. In his twelve years with Rangers he made a total of 267 appearances, keeping a clean sheet in 109 of those matches.
By now well into his mid thirties, he joined Queen’s Park Rangers in 1921, by now a Football League club, and eventually made his Football League debut against Aberdare Athletic that November, but only played 6 times for The R’s before re-joining Southampton early in 1923. Although understudy to Tommy Allen, he made a further 13 appearances for The Saints, before moving down the coast to join Boscombe in January 1924. Again, he managed 13 appearances in 1923-24 before hanging up his gloves at the end of the season.