Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire born centre forward Fred Pagnam started with Lytham and then Blackpool Wednesday in 1909 before having spells at Huddersfield Town from June 1910, though he never played for their first eleven, joining Doncaster Rovers in 1911 and Southport Central in the summer of 1912. He joined Blackpool in February 1913 making his Football League debut at Stockport County that April, scoring once in 22 appearances for The Seasiders. He was recommended to Liverpool by ex Liverpool stalwart and former Blackpool player-manager, Jack Cox, signing for The Reds in May 1914 for £75. Pagnam scored on his Liverpool debut at Chelsea on 10th October 1914 and three weeks later hit the net four times as Tottenham were crushed 7-2 at Anfield. Pagnam was easily the club’s top-scorer that season with 26 goals from 31 appearances.
After he had completed his first season he was “generally recognised as the best find of the year in Division 1 circles” according to the Liverpool Echo. The First World War intervened but he maintained his prolific scoring record for Liverpool in wartime matches, scoring 43 goals in 49 matches, and during the War he also played for Arsenal, Belfast Celtic and Blackpool, but when football resumed after hostilities ceased, Pagnam played only eight more matches for Liverpool, scoring 4 times before being sold to Arsenal in October 1919 for £1,500.
In 1917, Pagnam had given evidence in the famous match-fixing scandal involving seven Liverpool and Manchester United players who had taken bribes to let their game end 2-0 in United’s favour on Good Friday 1915. Pagnam said he was illegally approached en route to the game and offered £3 by Liverpool’s Jackie Sheldon to throw the game, but had refused to participate, and his evidence almost certainly hastened his departure from Anfield.
At Arsenal he enjoyed a successful career, playing 53 times and scoring 27 goals in just under 18 months at Highbury. Pagnam finished as Arsenal’s second highest goalscorer in his first season and formed a strong partnership with Harry White up front. He went one better and topped the scoring charts the following season with 14 goals but was sold to Cardiff City for £3,000 in March 1921 with Arsenal in need of funds. His 8 goals in 14 games helped The Bluebirds to promotion to the First Division that summer but a dry spell of 13 games the following season saw him join Watford in December 1921 for £1,000, easily a club‐record fee at the time, and his goalscoring there included three Football League hat-tricks in the space of five games in autumn 1922, revived Watford’s fortunes. He also scored the club’s last goal at Cassio Road and the first at Vicarage Road, scoring 74 goals in 157 games through till February 1927, by when he had been made manager in May 1926, a post he held until the summer of 1929.
After leaving Watford, he had spells in Turkey, coaching Galatasaray and the Turkish national team in July 1931, and in the Netherlands at DWV Amsterdam (1934-1937), Den Haag (1935 caretaker), De Volewijckers (1937-1939) and CVV Vriendenschaar (1939) before returning to the UK in 1939 with his Dutch wife at the outbreak of World War Two, during which he was still fit enough to turn out for Lytham.