War ruined career of prolific Red Fred Pagnam

WHO’S the Red with the greatest goals per game ratio of all-time?

Ian Rush? Roger Hunt? Not even close.

In the season before the Great War broke out the Reds unearthed a striker who delivered the phenomenal goals return of 26 goals in 31 appearances . . . then saw his career wrecked by the War.

Fred Pagnam was tall and good in the air, but he was also skilful and possessed a thunderous shot – all qualities he put to good use after joining the Reds from Blackpool.

He scored on his debut at Chelsea, hammered four on his home debut against Tottenham and went on to rattle goals with astonishing consistency.

Pagnam was also a highly principled man. The 1914/15 campaign coincided with the betting scandal between Liverpool and Manchester United. On Good Friday 1915 a number of players colluded to fix the match in United’s favour, with players from both sides benefiting from bets placed on the result.

Pagnam was invited to take part in the plot, but he refused, even threatening to score a goal to ruin the prearranged result; then later bravely testified against his team-mates at an FA inquiry which found four Liverpool players and three United players guilty of match-fixing.

The match ended in a 2-0 win to United, but the referee and some observers noted Liverpool's lack of commitment – they had even missed a penalty.

Sandy Turnbull, Arthur Whalley and Enoch West of United were found guilty and banned for life, as were Jackie Sheldon, Tom Miller, Bob Purcell and Tom Fairfoul of Liverpool.

All seven players were banned for life. West vociferously protested his innocence, even going so far as suing the FA for libel. However, he lost the case and the ban stood. Sandy Turnbull was killed serving in World War I, but all the other players, except West, had their bans lifted in 1919 in recognition of their services during the War.

West had to wait until 1945 for his ban to be lifted, by which time he was 59!

Pagnam continued to play for Liverpool through the war, but when football resumed after hostilities ceased played only eight more matches before being sold to Arsenal in October 1919. He died in 1962 aged 74.

Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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