Jack Kelsey joined his London-born father in the tinplate industry shortly after leaving school early in his teens. He then became a crane driver before completing his National Service. His early football was played for Winch Wen FC in the Swansea and District League, a club of which his father was chairman for a dozen years. His goalkeeping exploits soon caught the eye and a former Arsenal player, Les Morris, arranged for him to have trials at Highbury. They were impressed and he signed for the Gunners in 1949.
He conceded eight goals in his first two games in the first-team in the 1950-51 season and was immediately returned to the reserves, but by the 1952-53 he was reliable enough to have made 29 appearances in the Arsenal first team that won the First Division title. From then on he became the undisputed No 1 at the club in every sense and developed into one of the greatest Welsh goalkeepers of all-time.
He made 327 league appearances for Arsenal over a 13 years period and 548 all-tolled for the club. He was capped 41 times by Wales and also played for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland XI that played the Rest of Europe at Windsor Park, Belfast, in 1955. He was the Welsh goalkeeper in the 1958 World Cup, a side that was beaten in the quarter-finals by Brazil.
His career was brought to a premature end following a collision with a Brazilian player in a friendly match in Sao Paolo on tour in 1962. It left him with a back injury that forced him to hang up his boots. He received a Testimonial Match against Glasgow Rangers, but didn’t leave Arsenal. He worked in the club’s commercial department until he finally retired in 1989.
Alfred John Kelsey (Footballer) Born in Swansea on 19 November, 1929; Died in London on 18 March, 1992