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Searching for Toby

I came across this programme some years ago and although I'm not a collector of even first team Brentford programmes I fell in love with the cover image.

My first thought was that the drawing of the Brentford player - who is not even wearing their red and white striped kit - was dated. Nothing like others I had seen on and in 50s publications. There's something even old public school about the way he's puffing out his chest as he dribbles the ball. For that reason he became Toby. At least in my head.

The issue itself is a fairly routine 4 pager without any adverts, the team lineups on the first inside page followed by 2 pages of "Newstrip" and concluded by a note detailing the details of the next, first team, home game. Interestingly the programme bears no resemblance to a first team issue.

That might have been that. A noteworthy image making an average publication interesting. But Toby wasn't going to let that happen. Suddenly he appeared everywhere. Transferring to Watford....

he appeared on a reserve programme against Queen's Park Rangers in 1952 , merely changing from a red strip into blue. Then, staying with Watford......

he dons a plain blue shirt, white shorts and hooped socks (which was at least the Watford strip at the time) to adorn a Watford 1st team programme against Rampla from Uruguay...........

Back to Watford Reserves Toby is part of the Promotion Souvenir Issue taking his appearances into the sixties. But it turns out that his career was longer than I had anticipated.........

I next spotted him way back into the 1920s; for Reading reserves and, used by pirates, in 'souvenir' issues for England and in a Cup Final. On these occasions he'd changed into stripes.

I lost Toby through the 30s but it seems he'd moved north and had eventually been promoted to the first eleven at Grimsby.

Poor lonely Toby. But, wait. Apparently after leaving Reading and before Brentford, he had an interlude at Leyton Orient where he was joined by his pal, Tarquin.

Strange pose for Tarquin. Not sure if he's trying to catch the ball or slap at it!

Perhaps its that lack of quality that saw this goalkeeper slip into non-league, joined by his pal Toby.....

This recycled drawing has certainly done the rounds. I hope the artist got the royalties he/she deserved.

If you have seen Toby anywhere else I'd be very interested to hear from you.

Update 20th February 2022

Another Toby has been found in Cornwall! see below.


Paul Gibbons
Paul Gibbons
Oct 05, 2021

Great article Alan.

Alan Collins
Alan Collins
Oct 05, 2021
Replying to

Thanks Paul

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