Kennington, Surrey born centre forward Vivian Woodward was a truly remarkable amateur footballer, one of the most remarkable amateurs ever to play the game along with the likes of GO Smith. He was one of the 3 or 4 biggest stars of the pre World War One era. He played junior football for Harwich & Parkeston and Clacton Town, as well as representing Chelmsford, Essex FA and Old Clactonians, and joined Southern League Tottenham Hotspur aged 22 from Clacton Town in 1901. He proceeded to score 73 goals for Spurs in 171 appearances over the next 8 years, and played in Tottenham’s inaugural match in the Football League in September 1908, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In February 1903 he was first capped for the full England international team, scoring twice against Ireland at Molineux, and he would win 23 full caps over the next 8 years scoring a remarkable 29 goals, captaining his country on 14 occasions, and overhauling Steve Bloomer’s previous record total of goals. Woodward’s tally of 29 goals in 23 matches for England was the overall England goalscoring record, either jointly or alone, for 47 years until surpassed by Bobby Charlton. He scored twice on his final appearance against Wales at The Den in March 1911, when he was captain, but he was still being selected for England as late as April 1914, when he was a non playing reserve against Scotland at Hampden Park. In 1906 he first played for the (newly formed) England Amateur Xl and he would go on to win 44 amateur caps, scoring 57 goals. Additionally he captained Great Britain to gold medals at the 1908 Olympics in London and in Stockholm in 1912. He also made three appearances for The Football League.
Woodward moved to Chelsea in 1909 and played 116 games for them over the 6 seasons until football was suspended in 1915, scoring 34 goals. This included helping them back to the First Division in 1911-12 when they finished as Second Division runners up.
Once World War One had began, he joined the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, known as a “The Footballers’ Battalion”, rising to the rank of captain. It included many members of Woodward’s former team Tottenham Hotspur. He served on the Western Front and was wounded in the knee in July 1916. and as a result he never returned to top flight football after the War. He was later a director of Chelsea.
The story of the 1915 FA Cup Final is worthy of mention. Woodward was given permission to play by the army. He arrived at Old Trafford but his team mate Bob Thomson who had been injured had recovered and Vivian who was renowned for his sportsmanship refused to take his place as he not played in any of the rounds and felt his team mate who had, deserved the place.