Robin Friday (27 July 1952 – 22 December 1990) was an English footballer who played professionally as a forward for Reading and Cardiff City during a career that lasted four years in the mid-1970s. His on-field performances were regarded as excellent, and he won Reading's player of the year award in both of his full seasons there, as well as being the leading goal scorer. However, his habit of unsettling opponents through physical intimidation contributed to a heavily tarnished disciplinary record, and his personal life was one of heavy smoking, drinking, womanising and drug abuse. Despite his short career, he remains prominent in the memory of Reading and Cardiff supporters, both as a player and a personality. He has been voted Reading's best ever player three times.
Born and raised in Acton, west London, Friday was scouted, but not retained, by four professional clubs during his teenage years. He appeared for local semi-professional sides in the Isthmian League until he joined Charlie Hurley's Fourth Division Reading team in 1974—quickly becoming a key player, he helped Reading to win promotion to the Third Division during the 1975–76 season. As his drug habit intensified, Friday's form began to dip in the first half of the 1976–77 season, leading Reading to sell him to Second Division side Cardiff City around the New Year. Friday travelled to join his new team by train without a valid ticket and had to be bailed by the Cardiff manager Jimmy Andrews before he signed for the club. He performed strongly on his debut, but afterwards his form declined and his personal life caused him to repeatedly miss matches altogether. Following a number of incidents, on and off the field—including kicking Mark Lawrenson in the face mid-game—Friday retired from football in December 1977, aged 25. He died in Acton in 1990, aged 38, after suffering a heart attack.
The strongest aspects of Friday's game were his ball skills, footballing intelligence and physical and mental strength. Andrews labelled Friday "the complete centre-forward", and, along with numerous contemporaries, retrospectively rated Friday as good enough for the England national team. In a 2004 BBC poll, Friday was voted the top "all-time cult hero" for both Reading and Cardiff City. The Cardiff-based band Super Furry Animals dedicated their 1996 single "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" to his memory.Close