Harry Curtis (football manager)

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Harry Curtis
Personal information
Date of birth 1891
Place of birth Holloway, England
Date of death 31 January 1966 (aged 74–75)[1]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Walthamstow Grange
Teams managed
Gnome Athletic
1923–1926 Gillingham
1926–1949 Brentford

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (Goals).

Harry Curtis was an English footballer, referee and manager, best-remembered for his 23 years as manager of Brentford. He is Brentford's longest-serving and most successful manager to date. In 2013 Football League 125th anniversary poll, Curtis was voted Brentford's greatest-ever manager.[2] Curtis was posthumously inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame in May 2015.[3]

Playing and refereeing career[edit]

Curtis had a brief spell as a footballer in his teenage years, playing for Romford and Walthamstow Grange.[4] After his retirement from playing, Curtis became a referee and was quickly added to the Southern League list of referees.[4] In 1918, he was promoted to the Football League list and retired from refereeing in 1923.[4]

Managerial career[edit]

Gnome Athletic[edit]

Curtis began his managerial career as secretary of amateur club Gnome Athletic.[4]


Curtis entered league management when he became secretary-manager of Division Three South side Gillingham in 1923, taking over from Johnny McMillan.[4] After leading the club to three mid-table finishes, Curtis departed Priestfield in May 1926.[4]


After a chance meeting with Brentford director and former referee Frank Barton,[4] Curtis took over the managerial job at the Division Three South side in May 1926.[5] He brought Gillingham trainer Bob Kane with him to Griffin Park.[6] Curtis' debut season saw a run to the fifth round of the FA Cup, which yielded enough money to build a grandstand on the Braemar Road side of Griffin Park.[4] In the 1929/30 season, Curtis' Bees side won all 21 home league games, a record which has never been bettered.[5] Curtis also named the same team for 21 games between November 1929 and March 1930.[4] The most successful era in the club's history began in the summer of 1932, when Curtis signed Jack Holliday, Billy Scott and Bert Watson from Division One side Middlesbrough for £1500.[4] Brentford won the Division Three South title in the following season, the first silverware of Curtis' managerial career. Curtis' Brentford finished fourth in the club's first season in Division Two, before securing a second promotion in three seasons by winning the 1934/35 Division Two title and securing top-flight football for the first time in the club's history. The club won a second piece of silverware during the 1934/35 season, bringing home the London Challenge Cup.

Curtis and recently appointed assistant manager Jimmy Bain guided Brentford to fifth and two successive sixth-place finishes in the club's first three seasons in Division One.[6] Crowds at Griffin Park averaged 25000[5] and in the 1937/38 season, Brentford led the Division One table for three months and reached the sixth round of the FA Cup for the first time.[4] Brentford's sustained period of success was consolidated by Curtis' man-management abilities[4][7] and his astuteness in the transfer market, bringing in Scottish internationals Dave McCulloch, Bobby Reid and Duncan McKenzie, Welsh internationals Idris Hopkins and Les Boulter, with Billy Scott and Leslie Smith going on to represent England.[4] The outbreak of the Second World War and the suspension of professional football in 1939 brought Brentford's golden era to a halt, but Curtis still managed to win further silverware during the war, winning the 1941/42 London War Cup, the Bees' only Wembley success to date.[5] Football League competition resumed in 1946 and Curtis' Brentford were relegated to Division Two in the 1946/47 season and after two mid-table finishes, Curtis stood down from the manager's role at the end of the 1948/49 season. For his long service, Curtis was rewarded with a testimonial in May 1949, played between Brentford and a team of former players.[8] To date, Curtis is Brentford's longest-serving and most successful manager and a lounge at Griffin Park has been named in his honour.[9] He was posthumously inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame in May 2015.[3]


Curtis rounded out his management career with a spell at Southern League side Tonbridge.[6]

Personal life[edit]

After retiring from football management, Curtis moved to Southend and worked as a personnel manager for a company in the town.[6]


As a manager[edit]


As an individual[edit]


  1. ^ TW8: Brentford Official Matchday Programme versus Notts County 24/02/01. Charlton, London. 2001. p. 14. 
  2. ^ "Greatest Managers - Football League 125". Fl125.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  3. ^ a b c Chris Wickham. "Kevin O'Connor and Marcus Gayle join others in being added to Brentford FC Hall of Fame". brentfordfc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Haynes, Graham (1998). A-Z Of Bees: Brentford Encyclopaedia. Yore Publications. ISBN 1 874427 57 7. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Brentford FC History". Brentfordfc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  6. ^ a b c d Haynes, Graham; Coumbe, Frank (2006). Timeless Bees: Brentford F.C. Who's Who 1920-2006. Harefield: Yore Publications. pp. 175–176. ISBN 978-0955294914. 
  7. ^ "Bill Axbey: the legend of Griffin Park dies, aged 102 (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)". Richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  8. ^ Griffin Gazette: Brentford's Official Matchday Magazine versus Crewe Alexandra 06/04/96. Quay Design of Poole. 1996. p. 20. 
  9. ^ "Family Service Directory | Hounslow Council - GPLZ on the Road". Fsd.hounslow.gov.uk. 2014-07-15. Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2014-08-06.