Richard McFadden (1888-1916): Athlete, Soldier, Hero

Richard McFadden

Richard McFadden of Clapton Orient

Richard McFadden (1888-1916) was a Scottish athlete who came to prominence as the top scorer for English club Clapton Orient (now Leyton Orient). After the outbreak of World War I, McFadden and 40 other Orient team members and staff joined the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (“The Football Battalion”) and went off to France. McFadden and two of his teammates were killed there at the Battle of the Somme.

The following excerpt was published Nov. 1, 1916 in The Liverpool Echo:

“Today I regret to say McFadden is lost to the game. He has died. He was not only a brilliant forward, but he was a hero. He gained the Military Medal for gallantry in action; a year or two ago rescued a child from burning; also saved two boys from drowning.”

“A tough, rather diminutive fellow, McFadden was a very strong dribbler. He could carry on his forward move, no matter what size the opposition was. I remember him very well in his first representative game. He attracted every one of the heads by his persistence, strength, and shooting power. To you who have not seen him I think I cannot better “screen” him than by likening him to Dan Shea of Blackburn and West Ham. I think I am right in saying that one of our local clubs went to a thousand pounds for his signature, but Clapton Orient – or McFadden – did not go on with the deal.”

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