Arnold Josephs was the son of Lazarus and Fanny Josephs. Lazarus, a "boots and
shoes dealer", was born in Poland and came to England in the late 19th century
- Fanny was born in Edinburgh.
They started their married life in Wallsend, but later moved to Green Street, in
South Shields, where they were wealthy enough to be able to afford a live-in servant..
Arnold was the fourth of five brothers, and all of them had one thing in common:
they all became soccer referees. Isaac Philip was the oldest, and was a pioneer of
junior football in South Shields; next came Isidore, followed by Bert, Arnold and
finally, Abe - the "brothers Josephs" were very well known in their chosen
He went to Westoe Secondary School (1903-1908) and then went straight on to
teach at Barnes Elementary School, in South Shields. In 1913, with five years
of teaching under his belt, he spent a year at training college in Sunderland where
he gained his Board of Education certificate, including a number of certificates in
drawing and woodwork (and according to the staff register sheet, he completed his
"higher certificate in cardboard")
Now qualified as a secondary school teacher, Arnold joined the staff of Westoe
Senior Elementary School in 1914. Five years later, on 20th September, 1919, he
moved to South Shields High School, where he taught geography and sports.
By the late 40s he had become housemaster of Chapman House, and by the mid-50s was
But it was his career outside the High School for which Arnold Josephs is most notable.
He started refereeing when he was only fifteen, having been mistaken for one of his
brothers (also a referee) who had failed to turn up. He officiated at junior games
on the Dragon in South Shields and also at the North Shields Recreation Ground. During
the first World War, he occasionally refereed games in the Victory League, and while
he was in the Royal Fusiliers he was in demand for army matches.
Once the war was over, he applied to join the Durham Football Association. He sat
their qualifying examination on 9th January, 1920, and gained his certificate. The
following year he was then put on the North-Eastern League's "supplementary list",
moving to the proper list of the League the following year. He then spent a year as
linesman with the English League, followed by a year on the English League's "supplementary
It was in 1926 that he eventually found himself on the official Football Association
"proper" list of referees, and it shows their great confidence in him that
he was soon refereeing many important matches.
On 22nd February, 1926, he refereed the Scotland v Ireland match at Celtic Park.
But his greatest fame came in 1929, when Arnold Josephs was referee at the Cup Final
between Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth, and the England v Scotland International
at Hampden Park.
But in the early 1930s, he sustained a knee injury during a match between Ashington
and Southport, which went on to give him great trouble and, after a fairly short career
at the highest level, he was forced to retire - his last match was on 2nd May, 1936,
between Leeds United and Derby County at Ellend Road.
But this wasn't really the end of his career in the sport. He continued to write
his "Knotty Soccer Problems" column in the Daily Express, and continued
his active involvement in the administration of the game, mainly as President of the
South Shields Referees' Association for twenty five years.
Arnold Josephs retired from teaching at the end of the summer term in 1956 and moved
to Hull, the home town of his wife, Betty, whom he had met in 1927. He died on 9th
January, 1984, at the ripe old age of 93.