A follow-up to the blog post "The Major" by Tony Ridge

Further interesting information has been received by way of a response to the original blog about Major Frank Buckley. This concerns a man called Thorold Charles Reep, (born 1904 died 2002) who became the first soccer analyst and who worked without the benefit of a laptop !


Original Blog

Major Frank Buckley (known as “The Major”) was manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC from 1927 to 1944 and his attention to detail re players’ fitness, game tactics etc, became the template for the famous managers who followed him in the English game - including the likes of Stan Cullis, Bill Shankley and Matt Busby. The Major made Stan Cullis his captain and mentored his career with Wolves and England. Cullis became Wolves’ manager in the golden years of the 1950’s and practised much of what The Major preached.


Enter the Analyst

In 1951 RAF Officer Thorold Charles Reep was posted to RAF Bridgnorth. He had joined the service in 1928 and after a long career in the Accountancy Division was to retire as a Wing Commander in 1955. In 1933 Reep had attended a series of talks at RAF Henlow given by the then high flying Arsenal captain, Charlie Jones, who described the way in which wide players were fed with long balls and quickly moved the ball up the pitch and into the penalty area. Reep was impressed and used his mathematical skills and hand-written charts to analyse games and improve RAF teams. He realised that the quicker the ball was put into or near the penalty area, the more likely a goal would result. It was to him a simple matter of figures, statistics and logic. In early 1951 a Brentford FC scout heard about the success of Reep’s RAF teams and Reep was asked to help the struggling Division 2 side. This he did to great effect. It was much too late in the season for Brentford to trouble the top of the table teams, but results dramatically improved.