The following is closely based on articles, written by Steve Carroll and others, that appeared in The Press immediately following Arthur Bottom’s death.
Arthur Bottom, aged 82, one of York City's greatest-ever players, passed away on April 18th 2012 in hospital in his home town of Sheffield, surrounded by his family.
Born in Sheffield, in February 1930, Bottom joined York from Sheffield United.
Arthur was a prolific marksman for York with 105 goals in 158 games and a real star of their most famous side - the magnificent 'Happy Wanderers' side that an FA Cup semi-final replay in 1955. Strongly built, he was an aggressive runner and possessed a tremendously powerful shot. With a fiery temperament, he was a firm fans' favourite. Maybe he just lacked the pace to succeed at the highest level.
Bottom gave plenty of early indication of his prowess with a brilliant hat-trick on his debut, a 6-2 win at Wrexham, after arriving from Sheffield United in the summer of 1954. The Press headlined that day as "King Arthur was the toppermost toast". He netted 39 goals in his first season and equalled Billy Fenton's record of 31 goals in the league before going on to match that league total again in the following season.
He quickly became well known for his thunderous finishing and aggressive playing style – in sharp contrast to his quiet and retiring personality off the pitch. Those who saw him play in the flesh remember his explosive shot and aggressive running and fondly recall him as of one of the most complete forwards to have ever graced the hallowed Bootham Crescent pitch. His temperament often matched his aggression running leading to frequent spots of bother with opponent and offical alike. He described himself as "a bit of a bugger" and contrasted himself with teammate Norman Wilkinson whom he described as "such a nice man".
In City’s record breaking ‘Happy Wanderers’ 1954-5 FA Cup run, he top scored with 8 goals, including the quarter final winner, semi final equaliser and a hat trick at Dorchester. The semi final is also remembered for the goal that wasn’t. To many, Arthur Bottom’s 80th minute header had crossed the line to give City the lead. The referee ruled it hadn’t and awarded a free kick against City. Probably the first instance of goal line technology and little team bias combining to possibly deny City a memorable victory.
Goals continued to flow, including 4 goals in our club's record 9-1 win against Southport in February 1957 before Bottom joined Newcastle United twelve months later for Ł4,500. He netted 7 goals in 8 games to help save the Magpies from relegation from the top flight and 3 in 3 at the start of the next season but was soon sold to Chesterfield for Ł5,000. In 18 months at Saltergate, he never really found his scoring boots and left The Football League in 1960 at the age of 30. He finished his career in non league football with Boston and Alfreton Town.
Arthur Bottom is ranked 6th on the list of all-time York City goalscorers with 105 goals in his 158 appearances for the club in a City career that lasted less than 4 seasons.
After his playing career ended, he returned to Sheffield where he worked in the steel industry and led a life well away from football.
Both City and his former teammates lost touch with him. It wasn’t until interest aroused in TOOAB and a mutual friend put Arthur Bottom back in touch with City and Josh Easby of TOOAB
In a rare invterview with The Press’ York City writer Dave Flett in 2005, the 50th anniversary of City’s cup run, Arthur recalled the goal very clearly. In front of 21,000 City fans, he won the ball of Newcastle’s Jimmy Scoular, dribbled 30 yards and cleverly drew goalkeeper Ron Simpson to finish into an empty net. "I was in Norman (Wilkinson’s) position and he was in mine. There was a bad pass by Newcastle’s Carmichael and I could only go forward. Scoular and (Bob) Stokoe let me through and, as Simpson came out, I chipped the ball and his finger-tips deflected it towards the line. At that moment I remember thinking ‘get it right’ as I only had a side view of the goal. I scored." With time running out in the second half, many thought Bottom’s late header had crossed the line and it was a controversial finish to an absorbing match, although Bottom would later say it wasn’t a goal. City lost the replay 2-1 at Sunderland’s Roker Park.
The fact that 50 years later Arthur was still clearly insisting the ball hadn’t crossed the line tells you what a great man Arthur was.
Josh Easby (TOOAB)
Bottom, Arthur."He scored goals at every level and earned us a good transfer fee", Josh "Arthur Bottom" Easby on his favourite every City player.
Though I was too young to see him play (I was born during the 1954-55 FA Cup semi-final season), I spent my childhood hearing my father and others recount tales of his goalscoring feats – 92 goals from 137 City appearances. It wasn’t just his performances on the field that set him apart. He had a reputation for being down to earth, an ordinary bloke who made the most of his talent and who could relate to the fans who cheered him on. He was an unfashionable player, playing for an unfashionable club and the likes of my father loved him for it. In recent years, a giant photograph of Arthur went on display at Bootham Crescent. He looks exhausted but happy after a match. Look closely and you can see a barely concealed cigarette in his hand.
In mid-1997, a few of us started this newsletter when email was in its infancy. For a while, it didn’t have a name so we asked subscribers for suggestions. Various ideas came forth until someone came up with There’s Only One Arthur Bottom. No more discussion was needed – if we wanted a player who epitomised what our club was about, we need look no further. He was the original Arthur and we became Arthurites. I didn’t ask Arthur’s permission to use his name – indeed, I didn’t know where he lived or what had happened to him since his retirement from football. But in 2001, his daughter contacted me to let me know her father (living in Sheffield) was aware of the newsletter and that he was tickled pink we’d chosen to remember him. When I left the UK to return to New Zealand in 2006, the club presented me with a photograph of Arthur scoring one of his FA Cup goals – and he’d handwritten a message for me, and signed the photograph. That photograph is one of my proudest possessions. Two years ago, the subscribers to this newsletter celebrated Arthur’s 80th birthday with a special edition of TOOAB, in which many subscribers shared their memories of the great man. The special edition was printed off and delivered to Arthur by Graham Bradbury who reported back that Arthur was thrilled and felt humbled by all the attention. I think it would be fitting now if we published another special edition, in which we can share our memories of Arthur one more time, so I can send it to his family to let them know he’ll never be forgotten by us, or future generations of York City supporters. There really was only one Arthur Bottom.
Jason McGill, City chairman."He was an absolute legend and a hero to all York City supporters. He had a prolific goalscoring record for the club. It is an unbelievable record. We have a signed picture of Arthur in the boardroom at JM Packaging. It is often a talking point for people. Although we invited him many times, it was a shame we couldn’t get him to back to Bootham Crescent. He felt it was time for the new guys to take the club forward and that typifies the man. He was a humble man".
David Batters, club historian. "I saw him in his prime and he was a tremendous finisher. He was an aggressive player in a team that was arguably one of the best in the club’s history. He must be right up there at the top of the club’s best players but he was a very private man. He will live long in the memory of all those who saw him play. He was a York City legend. His shooting was tremendous," he said. "He had a great shot on him. I saw him in his prime. He was a very difficult and hard man to dispossess and his finishing was legendary. He scored 39 goals overall in his first season and that total is still a club record. His goal ratio has to be the best in the club’s history and I’m always reminded of two goals, the winner in the FA Cup quarter-final against Notts County in 1955 and the equaliser (against Newcastle) at Hillsborough in the semi-final. In those days, scoring feats were celebrated quite modestly, with handshakes. But he did a dance to the half-way line after that goal against Newcastle, followed by his team-mates. It was unheard of in those days. Bottom’s aggression on the pitch was belied by his quiet nature off it. He actually got sent off a couple of times. In those days, a player getting sent off was very rare and I think he was the only player to be sent off during his years with the club. It was a golden age of football for the club and Arthur Bottom played his part in that. His death now leaves Tommy Forgan (living in Australia) as the only surviving member of the Happy Wanderers."
Graham Bradbury, who organised a tribute for the Happy Wanderers’ side 50 years on from their FA Cup heroics, said: "His legacy is his scoring. I can quote Norman Wilkinson who said if Arthur had not gone to Newcastle it would have been him, and not Norman, who had the club scoring record."
Frank Ormston, York Minstermen. "I started supporting City in the 1970s. We grew up hearing tales of the Happy Wanderers and, of course, Arthur Bottom figured greatly in that. People who saw him play said he was one of the best they have ever seen for City. He has that legendary status among York City fans."
OLD_HEAD- In the 1950s as a schoolkid I used to collect autographs after the match at Bootham Crescent. I will never forget when Arthur Bottom emerged from the players entrance. He always had a huge smile on his face and he was usually puffing away on a cigarette. Not PC these days, but nobody bothered then for Arthur was our hero. A player who could score goals like Arthur would be priceless today. When Newcastle United were struggling at the wrong end of the old 1st Division (now Premier League) they signed Arthur. He duly scored the goals that kept them up. Rest in Peace Arthur, and yes I still have that autograph. A memory of very happy days. "Lifelong" - I saw all but the second round game away to Dorchester in the glorious Cup Run of 54/55 and there is no doubt that Arthur was a key player in a fairly lethal forward line. Dead ball situations from distances up to 30 yards showed Bottom at his best. But in the 6th Round away to Notts County who were high fliers in what is now regarded as the Championship he nearly took the net off from about 8 yards to send City into the Semi Final against Newcastle at Hillsborough. On a sodden pitch Bottom scored a fine individual goal after gathering the ball 10 yards inside their half to level the scores. Had he been in receipt of the pass that Fenton received late on in the game goalkeeper Ray Simpson would have been beaten by Bottom's finishing ability. Sometimes his aggressiveness ruffled the officials and Arthur had an occasional early bath! He was all right foot and Gordon Brown a genius at right half ensured he was accurately fed. What a team and what memories. A sad day indeed and now only Tommy Forgan the keeper who emigrated to Oz is left from a team whose success in the Cup run resulted in 29 special trains leaving York for Hillsborough for the semi. But I do believe York can do the double this year which will be a fitting tribute to Arthur and the Happy Wanderers.
Arthur died in 2012 aged 82.