Tim Coleman at Woolwich Arsenal

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By Tony Attwood

Next up in our list of Woolwich Arsenal players who played over 100 games for the club we have Roderick John McEachrane (Roddy) who played 313 league games – and played 346 games in all – for Woolwich Arsenal.   There are full details of his career in an earlier article here.

After Roddy we have John George Tim Coleman (known as Tim) who played for us between 1902 and 1908.  He made 196 appearances and scored an impressive 84 goals.  (172 in the league with 79 league goals.)

He was born on 26 October 1881 in Kettering, Northants – so a rarity: an Arsenal player born just a few miles from where I now live (which of course has nothing to do with anything).   Not surprisingly he played for Kettering Town.

Kettering Town were originally formed in 1872, turning professional in 1891. According to club legend they came up through twelve different leagues from 1892 until making it into the Conference.  At the time Tim Coleman was there they were winning the Midland Football League (won in 1896 and 1900), and he then moved on to nearby Northampton Town in 1901 who moved into the Southern League (a step up from the Midland League) that year.

As a passing note we might remember that Bill Gooing (see the previous article) went from Arsenal to Northampton Town in 1905, and that Herbert Chapman started management there just after that.   Three connections with that club doesn’t make a proper “link”, but if I find any more I am going to start thinking there was something special going on.   Certainly Chapman was not averse to buying a player from Kettering Town (but more of that in the post-Woolwich articles that we’ll come to soon).

Tim joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1902 and made this début against Preston North End on 6 September 1902.  In this first season with the club he became the top scorer with 17 in 30, as Woolwich just missed out on promotion.  The following season  he scored 23 goals in 28 games.  Tommy Shanks got 25 and Arsenal got promotion to the first division for the first time.

The first season in Division I was tough for the club and Coleman only got five goals but one year on he got 15 in 34 games.  He also played in the semi-final of the cup and got a cap for England against Ireland on 16 February 1907.

Everton then bid £700 for Tim in February 1908, as the decline in the club’s finances (which ended with Norris’ takeover in 1910 and the start of the Great Journey) began to hit, and he then spent two and a half seasons there scoring 30 goals in 71 league appearances.

It was during this time that the Football League and FA attempted to outlaw trade unionism in football, but Tim Coleman was one of the stalwarts of the union along with a number of other players, and ultimately the authorities backed off.

After Everton Coleman went to Sunderland (1910–11), Fulham (1911–14) and finally Nottingham Forest.  He retired when football stopped at the end of the 1914-15 season.  Later he played non-league for Tunbridge Wells Rangers.   Tunbridge Wells Rangers were formed in 1903 as a professional club playing in the Kent League and the South Eastern and Southern League.

He retired as a player in 1921 and then worked as a coach & manager for Maidstone Utd., before moving to the Netherlands (although why I know not). He died in died on 20 November 1940 aged 59.

As a postscript, can I add that I have clearly suffered from a form of temporal localism (I just made that up) in the sense that I have been amazed at the number of our players who not only moved around the UK but also moved overseas.  I really entered this thinking that in the early 20th century people tended to stay in their local area and that it was only post second world war that we started to move around the country, and indeed settle overseas.  Not so it seems.

The next player on the list is Percy Robert Sands (327 league appearances) and after that Archie Gray both of whom already have articles.  So that takes us on to Charles Oliver Satterthwaite.   (And in case it is not clear, I am dealing with these players in the order in which they played their first game for the club).

An index that is so untold you won’t be able to tell anything from it

An index of the players who played 100 or more times for Woolwich Arsenal

Not an index at all, but a book

6 Replies to “Tim Coleman at Woolwich Arsenal”

  1. Tony.

    Thoroughly enjoying these articles. Would it be possible to put them on my website profiles section. I will of course name you as author (and anyone else who has contributed).

  2. Dupsffokcuf – Could you write to me at tony.attwood@aisa.org to tell me exactly what you want to do. The only reason I am slightly hesitant is that we are planning to produce a book on Woolwich Arsenal FC, and there is an issue there. That is not to say that I am saying “no” – of course I do want to have the word out and about – just let me know exactly what you have in mind.


  3. Am currently reading ‘Fighting for football’ by George Myerson, a book on the life & times of Tim Coleman. Fascinating reading – thoroughly recommend it!

  4. Mark,
    It is a great read and looks into what life was like in and both sides of the first world war as well as a fine football history. Tim Coleman was an interesting character and ahead of his time with his thoughts and comments and a very good footballer.
    May I also highly recommend another biography of a pre first world war Woolwich Arsenal player. It is titled ‘Lost in France’ by Spencer Vignes (whom I have met twice in the Wimbledon tennis queues) and sub titled ‘The Remarkable Life and Death of Leigh Richmond Roose, Footballs First Playboy’. I am sure you will enjoy that too.

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