A Tribute to a real Arsenal legend – Jack Kelsey

It seems that there has been some confusion on JustArsenal about one of our greatest goalkeepers, so I thought I would just put the record straight, with some facts and figures. by Ken1945

Jack Kelsey – Goalkeeper.

Made 327 appearances for the club, from 1949 until 1963.

He won 41 caps for Wales, from 1954 until 1962.

He was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

He is regarded, alongside Southall of Everton, as the best goalkeeper ever produced in Wales.

He started as our first team keeper for eight straight seasons, but, unfortunately for Jack, it was during a period of poor results.

Jack retired in 1989 after a great career and took up the post of Commercial Manager at The Arsenal.

He was always available to talk to, and he was well known for chatting to the fans both on and off the pitch.

When he became Commercial Manager, he was often seen around the little club shop adjacent to the North Bank and I was lucky enough to have met him there, amongst other times, when he was in charge of taking photographs of fans holding the FA Cup…. with a Polaroid camera!!!

The queue stretched the length of the East stand down to the side entrance of the double door that fans exited from the North Bank and, if I remember correctly, it cost £2.00 for each photograph.

We still have the three photographs (one each of my two daughters and myself) as part of my memorabilia collection.

It is interesting to note that John Motson, in his autobiography “40 Years in the Commentary Box”, remembers “The little club shop run by Jack Kelsey” – such was the reputation of the man who had passed away eighteen years previously.

As a footnote, the little club shop sold scarves, bobble hats, car stickers and rosettes… a far cry from the mega stores we now find at The Emirates – but nevertheless, part of our club’s history.

Jack Kelsey was a true Arsenal man, both for the club and the supporters who were lucky enough to watch him play.

In my opinion and since I started following the club in 1952/53, Jack rates as one of our top five goalkeepers.
Certainly up there with Seaman, Wilson, Jennings and Lehmann and in no particular order.

Jack Kelsey 19/11/29 – 18/3/92. RIP.


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  1. Here’s something interesting for you.in the 1970’s delivering papers.Two customer’s I had on Jersey Rd Winch Wen Swansea,one was Mrs.Kelsey the other Mrs Sprake.They were next door neighbours.One was of course Jack Kelsey’s mother,the other being Leeds legendary goalkeeper Gary Sprakes mother..Saw Jack Kelsey a few times when he was home visiting,a gentleman .Made me a lifelong Gunner.

  2. Jack Kelsey was my childhood hero; he was often responsible for keeping Arsenal in the First Division during the 1950s. By the way, the club shop was actually at the Clock End of Avenell Road.

  3. Jack Kelsey! My idol. Watched him regularly during the 1950’s and early ’60’s. If I remember right he played for Wales against Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and kept them out until a deflected shot in the 70th minute meant a win for Brazil – but only just!. That was against the great World Cup winning side with Pele!

    One of Arsenal’s best ever keepers. Apart from Jim Standen (a very good stand in keeper for Jack), who went to West Ham in the early 1960’s, we suffered from a few goal keeping calamities for several years after Jack retired.

    Also remember Jack keeping in a home match. We were 4-0 up when some one in the crowd blew a whistle near the end of the game. One of our players turned round and blasted the ball into the back of Jack’s next whilst he was picking up his gloves. We won 4-1 due to the dumbo with the whistle!

    Jack Kelsey – Legend!

    1. Peter, I believe that own goal scorer was Denis Evans, our full back. A truly great keeper, great man and not esp tall for a keeper . Just 6 ft I believe.

      For our younger fans , that was DAVID SEAMAN!

      1. Yes! Thanks Jon! It was. I remember also the Arsenal crowd booing Denis Evans one Easter Holiday game at Highbury (late 50’s?) because he kicked Stanley Matthew!!! Stanley was the man back back then. National hero!

        For me Pat Jennings was the greatest British goalkeeper I’ve seen but I have a problem because even now I associate him with Spurs!!! So for Arsenal, I’ll go with No.1 Kelsey. No.2 Seaman.

        Cheers Jon.

  4. full name
    john alfred kelsey.
    in those days most player like Jack arrived by underground train

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