Richard Day looks back at former playersThis afternoon we re-launch our Past Masters series with a former player that went on to reach legendary status…
To many footballing people the name Jack Reynolds will mean very little but in fact the former New Brompton outside-right is arguably one of the most important figures in the history of twentieth century European football.
Jack, whose real name was John, was born in Whitefield (Manchester) had a pretty non-descript nine year playing career where he was with the likes of Manchester City, Burton United, Grimsby Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Watford and Rochdale.
His best spell as a player came as a winger here in Kent after signing for New Brompton from Watford in the summer of 1908. He netted on his debut, the only goal of the game, against Southend United at home in September 1908 and went on to score 16 goals in 108 games in all competitions.
However it was after retiring as player in 1911 that he was to become known in soccer circles.
His first coaching job was at Swiss side St Gallen in 1912 but after a two-year spell he left to take the job as coach of German national side but the outbreak of World War I scuppered that.
Then in 1915 Jack began an on/off 35-year association with a then reasonably new small Dutch amateur side called Ajax Amsterdam succeeding Irishman Jack Kirwen, a former Everton player.
The club had been founded in January 1900, some six years after a side known as FC Ajax had become defunct. Jack was given the job of getting the club promoted following their relegation – at this point the only thing the club had won in Holland during its short history had been promotion to the top flight in 1911.
He went on to lead the Amsterdam outfit to a first trophy, the KNVB Cup, in 1917 and the following season the club added the Eredivisie for the very first time. They went on to retain it in 1919.
His strict training and pioneering style of play meant he became known as the True Father of Total Football and had the initiative to begin the Dutch sides youth set-up i.e all outfield players were able to play in any position.
In June 1919 he became first manager of the Netherlands as international soccer returned after WWI – his one game in charge was a 3-1 victory over Sweden.
When Ajax hit a period of decline Reynolds left for Amsterdam rivals Blauw Wit but returned to the club in 1928. It was at this time that the side was built around the likes of midfielder Wim Andriesen who won 46 international caps, a pre-war Dutch record, and the goalscoring Piet van Reenen, the club were to dominate the domestic scene.
They went from being just one of the country’s football sides to being a standard-bearer of Dutch football winning five league titles in 12 years. That said, the first time that Ajax played another European side, Rapid Vienna, they suffered the heaviest defeat in the Dutch club’s history – the Austrians winning 16-2.
Then in 1940 when the Nazis invaded Holland during World War II, Reynolds was captured and interned as a Prisoner Of War at Tost in Upper Silesia (now known as Toszek in Poland) for five years.
Following his release he began his third spell with the Amsterdammers in 1945 but he retired after winning his eighth league title in 1947.
He ran a tobacconist’s following his retirement in Amsterdam until his death in November 1962 at the age of 81.
Three years later he had a stand named after him at their old De Meer Stadion and when they moved to the Amsterdam Arena in 1996 he was honoured further with a Jack Reynolds lobby.
N.B - In the team photo Jack is the first player on the left in the front row next to Secretary William Ironside Groombridge