By Tony Attwood
This article is one of the series on the players who played in the last ever Woolwich Arsenal game in Kent on 26 April 1913.
Joseph Fidler was a left back born in Sheffield in 1885. His playing career is not well charted, and I have not been able to find details of the number of games played beyond the matches for Woolwich Arsenal.
But we know he started with Sheffield United who had been in division 1 since 1893. A fair guess would seem to be that he was a reserve or youth player for his home city side. Taking a guess from the subsequent dates in this history we might have him in the reserves around 1905/1906. But that is a guess.
He then went to Fulham. They had entered the second division of the Football League in 1907, and generally clubs moving from the Southern League to the Football League tended to bring in new players to meet a different style of football. We could (again guess) that he was there for the 1907 to 1911.
After this it was QPR, and a note on the internet (unvalidated, and you know what internet stats are like) says he played for them just for the one season of 1911/12. This is certainly possible because in 1911/12, QPR won the Southern League for the second time, and because of the high profile of the Southern League at the time, this could have brought him to the attention of Woolwich Arsenal. Having been with a league club he might have welcomed a return to the Football League.
What’s more in 1912 QPR played some games at White City – which again might have brought extra publicity and an awareness of other clubs as to what their players were like. They are also reported to have gone on a tour of Europe.
What we do know for sure was that Joe Fidler joined Woolwich Arsenal for the two seasons 1912/1914, thus being one of the players who played the last game in Kent and the first at Highbury.
He made 13 league appearances in 1912/13 and 12 league appearances in 1913/14, scoring no goals.
His final appearance in football was the 1914/15 season when he played for Port Vale. A further brief note on an internet site says that he fought in the first world war with the Middlesex Regiment.
Returning to his time with Arsenal, in the last season at Woolwich he came in for the 0-0 draw with Oldham on February 8th and stayed in the team for the rest of the season as the regular left back and started the first season at Highbury, but after a 1-0 win over Birmingham on 22 November he left the squad and played no more for Arsenal.
So this is how far the research has gone with the players in the final ever game at Plumstead (Woolwich Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1. Crowd: 3,000)
- Goal: O Wilson
- Right back: J Shaw
- Left Back: J Fidler (this article)
- Right Half: GM Grant
- Centre Half: PR Sands
- Left Half: A McKinnon
- Outside Right: C H Lewis
- Inside Right : W A Spittle
- Centre Forward: S J Stonley
- Inside Left: A Devine
- Outside Left: G Burrell
The story continues in future articles.
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