It’s 20 years since Robin Friday, the patron saint of lower division bad boys, died at the age of only 38. Since then his legend has mushroomed into the worlds of publishing, music and fashion. He is recognised way beyond the fans of Reading and Cardiff City, the two League clubs he played for in the 1970s.

In this 52 page photo-essay WSC’s Roger Titford traces exactly how the legend of "the greatest footballer you never saw" came about and where it’s turning into pure myth. It crystallises Friday in his prime, examines the utterly different attitudes to the game existing not that long ago and the fascination that the modern fan has with his era. Gloriously illustrated with the best-ever collection of images of Robin in action.

Available now in digital viewing format only for £3 through Exact Editions, WSC's digital publishing partner.

Comments (6)
Comment by erwin 2010-12-10 21:25:10

I actually saw Robin many times from the South Bank at the much-missed (by me, anyway) Elm Park. He was indeed an extraordinarily gifted player - he'd dribble round three defenders, then wait for them to recover ground so that he could dribble round them again - and a helluva character. Indeed, my favourite memory of him has little to do with his footballing skills per se.

In one game, there was a tussle between some players on the halfway line near where we used to stand, and Robin sauntered up, gave a theatrical glance around and, despite the referee being just yards away and with a clear view, gave one of the opposition the most ostentatious of kidney punches. I can't remember what happened to him - although the punch itself was botched and the victim was unharmed, it was clearly a sending-off offence - but I do remember giggling for the rest of the game.

Comment by Craig van Fostinho 2010-12-11 08:26:39

Only Paolo Hewitt knows the real truth about Robin Friday.


I look forward to seeing what a true Reading fan has put together.

Comment by Big Boobs and FIRE! 2010-12-11 22:10:43

I started watching Reading in the very early eighties and for the best part of a decade, the local press or matchday programmes didn't seem to think of Friday as anything other than just another player in a pretty nondescript Reading team.

However, his death coincided with a particularly dull time for the club and all of a suddern, every person who had been anywhere near Reading in the 1970s, suddenly had a story to tell about him.

I never saw him play so I can be no judge of whether the hype is true, but I am suspicious that no-one saw fit to eulogise about him in the time between he left the club and his death.

Maybe its just karma for introducing Bas Savage to the professional game.

Comment by Barnstoneworth 2010-12-16 13:38:55

I saw Robin Friday play several matches for Reading between 1974 and 1976 and once for Cardiff in 1977. There can be no doubt that he was a very special talent - great first touch with either foot, good in the air, quick, brave, scorer of memorable goals and maker of many others for team-mates, and all with a swagger that told you everything about how easily it all came to him. He would juggle the ball during games, beat players for fun and score from unlikely distances. Of course, all the Reading matches I saw him play were in the old 4th division where defenders had no clue how to handle him. Also as a pre-teen I had no clue about his off-the-field adventures. But he was a crowd-pleaser and one of the most effective forwards around at the time - there was certainly nobody better playing for or against Reading. I'd say the only other player who I saw play reasonably regularly around that time to whom Friday could be compared was Peter Osgood, who was undoubtedly a better player, although Friday was quicker and had more stamina. Could he have been a star at the highest level? Had he wanted to, probably yes.

BBAF - in the early 1980s the nostalgia industry as we know it today barely existed and once a player was out of a club it was if he'd ceased to exist. Reading had new heroes - Gary Heale, Kerry Dixon, Trevor Senior - but the mere mention of the name Robin Friday would bring a warm smile to the face of any Reading fan.

Comment by andy4232 2011-02-21 21:37:18

i was also lucky enough to see the legendary robin friday on numerous occasions as a youngster watching Reading during the mid-70's - apart from being a class player, he was also an hilarious character - we used to wait for autographs after the game at the players entrance & i still have robin's autograph to this day - i remember the day he came out with a black eye & someone said 'how did you get that robin?', to which he replied 'i called my wife a c*** & she threw a tin of beans at me!'another time, robin was in the box & gary peters was about to cross it - at this moment robin shouted 'chip it you f*****g c***'!gary is still kicking around so non-believers can verify this with him!great character, legendary player

Comment by Red Letter 2012-01-02 20:13:16

I never saw Robin Friday play, I've read his biography and many accounts of his obvious talent and spoke to people people who did see him. I have no doubt from what I read and hear he was really talented player but it begs the question why did he not play at the highest level.He was from Acton and QPR had a really fantastic team in the mid seventies - why not for them. He seems to have being a bit of a 'wild card' and this may have went against him, but loads of players behaved like this in those days

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