Arthur Lever

The Transfer Record: Arthur Lever

When right-back Arthur Lever joined Leicester City from Cardiff City for £15,000 in September 1950, it was the first time the Club had spent a record fee on a defender since Leicester Fosse paid £300 for Woolwich Arsenal’s ex-England centre-half Billy Bannister in May 1904.
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Fifteen years later, history repeated itself when Leicester broke their Club record again to sign Peter Rodrigues, who was another Welsh international right-back from Cardiff City.

Lever, though, played amateur football for a local league side called Machine Products, before joining Cardiff in 1942.

As he worked in a wartime reserved occupation, he didn’t join the armed forces and he was able to play over 100 wartime regional games for the Welsh club.

He made his league debut when the Football League resumed after the war in the 1946/47 season.

An ever-present in his first season, when Cardiff won the Division Three South title, Arthur went on to star in 114 consecutive games, until he was injured against Tottenham Hotspur in March 1949.

By this time Cardiff had risen to fourth place in the Second Division. His injury prevented him from playing in the controversial last game of the 1948/49 season against the previous week’s FA Cup finalists.

It was against Leicester City. The match at Ninian Park ended in a 1-1 draw. This was enough to guarantee the Cardiff players a talent money bonus and to keep City from dropping into the Third Division.  

Six months later, City’s manager, Johnny Duncan, was replaced by Norman Bullock, who arrived from Bury with a five-year plan to get Leicester back into the top flight.

He revolutionised the Club. Many established players soon left Filbert Street, to be replaced by the likes of Arthur Rowley, Matt Gillies and England internationals Johnny Morris and Jack Froggatt.

He also spent a Club record fee on Arthur, who took over the right-back berth filled for so many years by Billy Frame, and more recently Ted Jelly. 

Lever soon became captain, playing 124 games over the next four seasons. He was also capped by Wales in October 1952, playing alongside such Welsh legends as Trevor Ford and Ivor Allchurch. 

His time at Filbert Street culminated in 1954 with promotion back to the top tier as Second Division champions.

That summer, having lost his place to Bobby Charlton’s uncle, Stan Milburn, Lever left for Third Division South side Newport County, where he spent three seasons before retiring at the age of 37.

Arthur was an all-round sportsman. He played Cardiff league baseball, enjoyed cricket, and had a golf handicap of five. He was also a keen gardener who kept two allotments and loved to grow his own food.

In Cardiff, Arthur died in 2004. His obituary in the Western Mail described him as being one of the most talented full-backs in Cardiff City’s history.

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