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GCR Books

Which Arsenal player was also a preacher?

Mike Tiddy was born on 4 April 1929.

Mike first joined Torquay United when football resumed after the second world war, undertook his National Service and then played with the club until November 1950 when he signed for Cardiff City.

He played 145 league games in five years with Cardiff before going to Arsenal, with Gordon Nutt.   Brian Walsh was transferred to Cardiff as part of the deal.

Mike was transferred from Cardiff City on 23 September 1955 and played his first game against Sunderland on 24 September 1955, but his progress was hampered by injuries, as a result of which Arsenal brought in Joe Haverty to take over the position.

This combination of injuries and a replacement being found when it was unsure if Mike could continue, he played just 48 league and four cup games for Arsenal across three seasons.

His final game was 26 April 1958:  Preston 3 Arsenal 0, and he left to join Brighton on 25 October 1958.

Indeed, it is at Brighton that we first get sight of Mike as a Methodist lay-preacher and apparently because of his role as a preacher, he never played Christmas and Easter fixtures.

His position as a preacher and footballer was discussed in an article he wrote in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly:

————————-

I work for the Church when I am not playing football, and many people cannot understand how I can combine the two. They ask me why I take part in professional football when there is so much talk of matches being fixed and of players taking bribes.

Well, there is good and bad in everything, in sport no less than in other aspects of life. As a Christian I try to live up to my beliefs in a practical way, and I feel should be interested in trying to do some good in whatever activities I follow.

One of the great lessons to be learned in life is to play the game the straight way. Play it hard if you like, take knocks and give some back – but always in a fair manner and without vicious retaliation.

There was a time – not so very long ago – when I didn’t play soccer hard enough. Maybe I was trying to be too much of a gentleman. But some of the fans began to think I was afraid of getting “stuck in”.

Now I play the game hard. Football, after all, is a man’s game, the finest in the world when played in the right spirit of keen competition. These days I go into the tackle with more zest and bite, and I am enjoying my game even more.

Call it muscular Christianity if you like…

I can’t help feeling that I have a first-class opportunity of trying, in my small way, to get over a message – through example – to thousands of people. I don’t have to say a word. If I can play the game hard and fairly then I have achieved something.

Sometimes I hear a spectator shout something and perhaps refer to me as a ‘parson’. That makes me feel good, and gives me something to live up to.

I remember playing against a back who hit me right, left and centre. Eventually, we both sprawled on the turf, and he grunted: “You amaze me, Tiddy. I keep kicking you, but you don’t do anything about it.”

At the end of the game he came over for a handshake and we have been pals since then.

Mark you, I am often tempted to lose my temper but I am certain that my Church upbringing helps me to keep it in check.

The great majority of professional footballers are fine fellows. They are healthy sportsmen with good morals. Ignore the tales you hear of drinking and immorality among players.

Take it from me that most of the lads live for their football, and keep themselves fit in the mind as well as body.

How do they react to my views? I receive respect from them, int he dressing room and on the field.

Some people might think of chaps like me as being prudes or cissies. Well, I can only say that I have always felt I have been one of the boys with all the clubs I have played for.

I like to join in the fun and leg-pulling. I like to play in the card schools on long away trips.

I get a lot out of football, but the biggest thing is learning to take defeat as as well as success. We haven;t started to conquer life until we can do this in the right spirit.

And here I think I ought to pass on this same advice to certain spectators! They take defeat with far less grace than most players.

I don’t think television will take most of the fans from the terraces, for there is nothing quite like the real thing… the electric Soccer atmosphere and letting off steam.

That’s a good old British safety valve!

My advice to young players is: Play football the best way by doing the easy thing slickly and accurately. But I must warn you that the easy things in football can be the most difficult.

—————————–

Mike retired from league football at the age of 33 and returned to Cornwall, where he was player-manager of Penzance, Helston Athletic and Falmouth, ending his time in football with Lizard Argyle.  If you have ever been on holiday in south Cornwall, these are the places you will recall.   I missed visiting the Lizard Argyle ground last time I visited the peninsula but I’ll be sure to see the ground next time.

Anyway if you have been there you can probably understand how the whole of Cornish football was apparently shocked when Penzance AFC appointed Mike as a full time professional player-manager in 1962.  Such a thing had never been heard of before.  It was however not a successful move as the club won no trophies.

Mike Tiddy died on 25 November 2009 at the age of 80 at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Here’s his footballing career as a player…

Years Team Lge Games Lge goals
1946–1950 Torquay United 5 0
1950–1955 Cardiff City 145 19
1955–1958 Arsenal 48 8
1958–1962 Brighton 133 11
1962–1964 Penzance
1964–1965 Helston Athletic
1965–1969 Falmouth Town 84 37
1969–? Porthleven

Please note: The full anniversaries index can be found here.  

The books

 

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