In a major boost for believers in nominative determinism, experienced outside forward Fred Forward joined Hull City in July 1932. After missing the first three League games of the season he came into the first team and started every subsequent League and Cup fixture during the 1932/33 season. This was a season that saw the Tigers take the Division Three North title thanks to Bill McNaughton record 41-goal haul, but contemporary reports suggested that Londoner McNaughton’s success was heavily entwined with Forward’s supply line from the right flank of City’s attack. Forward himself was also no slouch in front of goal, he scored his first City goal in his second start, a 5-3 win at Stockport, and added seven more goals that came in five League victories and two FA Cup wins – a talismanic winning record indeed. With the Tigers promoted back to the Second Division, a level they had departed three years earlier, Forward was offered terms to stay at Hull City during the 1933 close season that he deemed insufficient – plus his wife’s poor health was exacerbated by the challenging northern air – and Fred was placed on the transfer list, thus ending a short but productive spell at Anlaby Road.
Frederick John Forward was born in Croydon, South East London and came of age as World War One began. He joined the Army Cyclists Corps in 1917 and when he was demobilised in 1919 he played amateur football for Croydon-based side Brighton Railway FC. In May 1921 he was signed by his hometown club Crystal Palace, initially on amateur terms but later becoming a professional, and he made his debut for the newly elected Second Division side in February 1922 against South Shields. Fred spent two more seasons on the fringes of the Palace first team, adding five more senior starts until in June 1924 he transferred to Division Three South side Newport County.
At Somerton Park, Forward established himself as a first team regular. He made his debut in mid-September against Reading and scored his first senior goal in a November 1924 FA Cup tie against Aberdare Athletic, netting three more times that season. He remained in Newport’s first team for the next season and a half and by February 1927 he had made 109 senior appearances for the club and scored 11 goals.
In mid-February 1927 Forward was signed by Second Division challengers Portsmouth, who were looking to boost their attacking resources in an attempt to win promotion to the First Division. Fred scored three times as Pompey finish second in the table and succeeded in their quest to join the top flight. Competing at elite level, Forward – who had been playing at Division Three South level six months earlier – was selected in the first team and thrived, scoring his first top flight goal in August 1927 against Aston Villa. Fred remained a first team regular at Portsmouth for three more seasons as they transformed from relegation strugglers to top four finishers by the 1930/31 season. They also had a fine FA Cup run in 1929 that saw the club reach a Wembley final against Bolton Wanderers – Forward played the ninety minutes of the final as Pompey lost 0-2 in front of 92,500 supporters. Fred dropped out of the Portsmouth first team in late October 1931 and didn’t return, when he left the club for Hull City eight months later he had scored 28 goals in 197 senior appearances for the Fratton Park side.
Forward was free to leave Hull City during the 1933 close season, but the £200 fee demanded by the Tigers put off Football League clubs and he instead joined Southern League side Bath City in August 1933 – as they played outside the Football League, City could retain Forward’s league registration and no fee was payable. Two months later in October 1933 he joined Southern League rivals Margate, a club he served for two seasons before joining Kent League side Ramsgate for the 1935-36 season. He then spent half a season playing for Dagenham-based works team Ford Sports before retiring in January 1937 and returning to his home in the Southsea district of Portsmouth.
Forward took work as an electrical labourer in Portsmouth’s Royal Navy dockyards and became an accomplished county level bowls player by the late 1940s. He eventually retired along the south coast in Bournemouth where he died in the Spring of 1977.
Date/Place of Birth: 8 September 1899, Croydon
Hull City First Game: 7 September 1932, Wrexham A (Division Three North), 32 years, 365 days old
Hull City Final Game: 6 May 1933, Rochdale A (Division Three North), 33 years, 240 days old
Brighton Railway FC (1919-1921), Crystal Palace (1921-1924), Newport County (1924-1927), Portsmouth (1927-1932), Hull City (1932-1933), Bath City (1933), Margate (1933-1935), Ramsgate (1935-1936), Ford Sports (1936-1937)
Hull City Record
Career: 43 apps, 8 goalsFred Forward