Fred Keenor

Bluebirds stalwart and leader of the '10 unknowns'

Player Biography
Full name: Frederick Charles Keenor
Date of birth: July 31, 1894
Date of death: 1972
Clubs played for: Cardiff, Crewe
Fred Keenor
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Club Career

An uncompromising, tough-tackling half-back, Fred Keenor remains one of Cardiff's greatest players. A dynamic, energetic and inspirational leader, Keenor scored The Bluebirds' first goal in the Football League and went on to lift the FA Cup in 1927.

In all, Keenor devoted 19 years to the Welsh club before closing out his career at Crewe.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1912-31 Cardiff 369 13
1931-34 Crewe 116 5

International Career

Keenor was a stalwart of the defence during a golden era for Welsh football. He won four Home International Championships for his country despite the growing reluctance of English clubs to release players for such matches. What Keenor lacked in natural ability, he more than made up for in determination and courage, and was the scourge of many an international striker.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1920-33 Wales 32 2

Key Games

Wolves 3-1 Cardiff (FA Cup semi-final replay, March 23, 1921)

After having the better of the goalless first game, Cardiff were expected to come through the replay against Second Division Wolves. But although the Bluebirds had their chances in the first half, it was Wolves who took theirs, taking a two-goal first half lead. Keenor got his side back into contention with a typically nerveless penalty after the break, but his side were denied their first Wembley appearance after this 3-1 defeat.

Cardiff 1-0 Arsenal (FA Cup final, April 23, 1927)

Nobody expected Cardiff to beat Herbert Chapman's Arsenal side, but they did, thanks to Dan Lewis' goalkeeping error and a superb defensive display by a Cardiff defence marshalled by Keenor, who became the only man to lift the FA Cup for Cardiff. This was undoubtedly his finest hour.

Scotland 1-1 Wales (October 25, 1930)

Captaining a depleted Welsh side, 'Keenor and the 10 unknowns' scrapped out a remarkable 1-1 draw. On a day when the Football League insisted on going ahead with a full programme of matches, Wales manager Ted Robbin was forced to field players from either the Welsh League or non-League football, plus Keenor. It was an extraordinary result at Ibrox for the Welsh and Keenor, who revelled in this type of backs to the wall challenge.


Club Competition Year
Cardiff FA Cup 1927

Did You Know...?

Keenor was a veteran of World War I and was wounded in the Battle of the Somme, while serving for the 17th Middlesex Battalion

After losing the FA Cup final in 1925, Keenor made a promise to Bluebirds fans that he would fulfil two years later. "Just because we lost in our very first Cup Final, I don't think there is any cause to get down in the mouth," he said. "I can say here and now that one day soon our followers can be sure that Cardiff City will bring that cup to Wales."

Although only 5ft 7in, Keenor was a powerful defender. Such was his strength that in 1919 he even sparred with the former European featherweight champion Jim Driscoll while the boxer was training at Ninian Park

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From the back pages

Wolves 3-1 Cardiff Published: March 24, 1921

FA Cup semi-final replay match report

Today's Battle For The Cup Published: April 23, 1927

FA Cup final front page

Cardiff Bring A Black Cat For Today's Cup Final Published: April 23, 1927

FA Cup final preview

Will The English Cup Leave England At Last? Published: April 23, 1927

FA Cup final preview

Cardiff 1-0 Arsenal Published: April 25, 1927

FA Cup final match report

Scotland 1-1 Wales Published: October 27, 1930

Home International match report

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