Talented teenage outside left Horace Cumner spent three months on loan at Hull City between late January and early May 1938 as Ernest Blackburn’s side sought to secure promotion back to the Second Division. That venture fell short at the very last hurdle, with City finishing the season in third place despite having spent the last eight weeks in the top 2, but no blame could be ascribed to young Cumner. After spending February 1938 impressing the Reserves XI with his goalscoring prowess, Horace was given his first team debut and his twelve starts yielded a debut goal against Chester and further strikes against Port Vale, Bradford City and Crewe Alexandra. He left Hull in good shape to join the first team of his parent club Arsenal.
Reginald Horace Cumner was born and raised in Cwmaman, a colliery village two miles south of Aberdare deep in the South Wales coal mining valleys. A prodigious talent from a young age and capped at Welsh Schoolboys level, Cumner joined First Division side Arsenal at 17 in April 1935 and was quickly sent to the Gunners’ nursery team Margate, who competed in the Southern League. Horace spent the 1935/36 season and the first half of the following season on the Kent Coast and scored 43 goals in 80 games, a fine return for a teenage wide player. His move to Hull City was seen as the final part of his football education before returning to his North London parent club.
Cumner was given his Arsenal debut in September 1938 in a First Division match against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and he duly scored the winner in a 1-0 victory. A week later he started the Charity Shield match against Preston North End, then he scored again against Chelsea the following month and was recognised with full international honours as a result. He ended the 1938/39 season at 21 years of age with 13 starts for the First Division club, full international caps and the football world at his feet. Alas the outbreak of World War Two put a brake on his career development. He returned to the Valleys and played wartime fixtures for Swansea Town and Fulham before joining the Royal Marines. He suffered severe burns in September 1942 while serving with the Marines but was able to resume his footballing career within weeks, playing for his parent club Arsenal plus Portsmouth, Liverpool, Plymouth, Port Vale, Greenock Morton and Leyton Orient – the host of naval cities in that list told a tale of his wartime service. He also continued to play regularly for the Welsh national team throughout the war, including a wartime international against England in October 1942 just five weeks after he was hospitalised and his football career was feared to be over – Horace scored both goals in a 2-1 victory.
Demobilised in November 1945, Cumner returned to Arsenal and scored the winner in the Gunners’ FA Cup Third Round victory over West Ham in January 1946. In July 1946 Horace moved to Notts County as part of a player-swap deal ahead of resumption of the Football League, and he was a Magpies regular for two seasons as they competed in the upper reaches of Division Three South. He made 74 appearances and scored 13 goals for County before his transfer to divisional rivals Watford in July 1948 for a £3,000 fee. Two seasons at Vicarage Road saw Cumner make 66 starts and score 8 goals for the Hornets. In September 1950 he signed for Division Three North side Scunthorpe & Lindsey United, who were managed by Leslie Jones, an Aberdare native like Horace and a former Arsenal team-mate. Cumner’s consistency continued to shine over the next three seasons as he scored 21 times in 106 starts for The Iron. In the 1953 close season he transferred to Bradford City but was unable to break into the Bantams’ first team. In August 1954 Cumner joined Western League side Poole Town – a club that a year later would sign former England international and ex-Tiger Wilf Mannion – and he saw out his playing days at nearby lower league clubs Bridport and Swanage Town. Horace remained living in Poole after his playing days were over and he died in the Dorset town in January 1999.
Horace Cumner was a schoolboy international for Wales in the mid-1930s while playing for Aberaman Athletic and won three full international caps in the 1938/39 Home Championship – in October 1938 against England, November 1938 against Scotland and March 1939 against Ireland, when Cumner scored the opener in a 3-1 victory. He went on to play in ten wartime internationals for Wales during World War Two and scored three goals, matches for which full international caps were not awarded.
Date/Place of Birth: 31 March 1918, Cwmaman
Hull City First Game: 12 March 1938, Chester A (Division Three North), 19 years, 346 days old
Hull City Final Game: 7 May 1938, Crewe Alexandra H (Division Three North), 20 years, 37 days old
Aberaman Athletic, Arsenal (1935-1946), Margate (1935-1938, loan), Hull City (1938, loan), Notts County (1946-1948), Watford (1948-1950), Scunthorpe United (1950-1953), Bradford City (1953-1954), Poole Town (1954-1955), Bridport (1955-1957), Swanage Town (1957)
Hull City Record
Career: 12 apps, 4 goalsHorace Cumner