Folk idol, saviour, sharp-shooter – all descriptions which have been applied, and with impeccable justification, to Arthur Bottom. The Sheffield-born inside-forward, as engagingly unassuming off the football field as he was spikily aggressive on it, was a bustling, free-scoring marksman who enjoyed his roaring pomp with York City in the mid-1950s, when he was integral to the lowly Minstermen's romantic progress to the semi-final of the FA Cup.
In those simpler, some might say more wholesome days, when the professional game's most venerable competition still represented the pinnacle of ambition to the majority of its players, Bottom was feted generously for his derring-do, albeit in the restrained manner of the times. Then, when he was granted a fleeting opportunity to test himself at the top domestic level, he grabbed it avidly, contributing a rush of springtime goals which did much towards keeping a wobbly Newcastle United side in the First Division in 1958. All too soon, it seemed, he was back in the obscurity of the lower leagues, but his name was not to be forgotten within the football community, hence the title of an enduringly popular York City electronic newsletter – "There's Only One Arthur Bottom."
The Bottom career commenced in April 1947 when he turned professional at 17 with Sheffield United, having been recruited from the local YMCA club. He made his senior entrance ina 2-2 draw at home to Stoke City inOctober 1948, but as it was his onlyappearance that season he was not implicated in the Blades relegation from the top division. Still, he could not claim a regular place over the next few years and when United won the Second Division title in 1952-53 he remained mostly in reserve.
So Bottom's June 1954 move to York City of the Third Division (North) was hardly greeted with euphoria on the terraces of Bootham Crescent, but by season's end he was being hailed as a hero. He started the season with a debut hat-trick in a 6-2 win at Wrexham and went on to total 39 goals in 46 appearances, a colossal factor in York's equalling their best-ever League effort by finishing fourth in the table. But it was their feat of becoming the first Third Division club to reach the last four of the FA Cup which riveted national attention on "The Happy Wanderers", as they were dubbed temporarily in reference to a current pop song.
Bottom contributed eight goals to a storming campaign, the highlights of which were richly deserved victories over Blackpool (complete with the great Stanley Matthews) and Tottenham Hotspur, then two semi-final matches against Newcastle United. In the first encounter at Hillsborough, the local boy equalised an early Magpies goal with an exquisite chip, then almost forced a late winner, only for 'keeper Ronnie Simpson to scoop his header to safety with a desperate lunge. City fans swore the ball had crossed the line, though the honest Bottom later revealed that it hadn't, but he did cavil at the referee giving a free-kick against him, meaning that the "goal" wouldn't have stood anyway.
Newcastle prevailed 2-0 in the Roker Park replay and went on to lift the Cup against Manchester City at Wembley, but the York striker had well and truly arrived, continuing his prolific form into subsequent seasons. So impressed had been the Geordies by Bottom that when they were in dire straits near the foot of the First Division in January 1958 they turned to the man who had plundered 105 goals in 158 games for York.
After leaving Bootham Crescent for St James' Park in a £4,500 deal, Bottom did not disappoint, announcing his arrival with the brace which secured the points at Everton and scoring seven times in eight games as the Magpies clawed clear of relegation. At this point, quick, strong and skilful, and in his prime at 28, Bottom might have been expected to thrive long-term with Newcastle, but the purchase of the expensive Welsh star Ivor Allchurch forced him out and he was sold to Third Division Chesterfield for £5,000 only 11 months after moving to Tyneside.
In 1960 he entered non-League circles with Boston United, then served Alfreton Town and took a job as a silversmith in a cutlery company. By then Arthur Bottom had left the game, but his niche in its annals was secure.
Arthur Edwin Bottom, footballer: born Sheffield 28 February 1930; played for Sheffield United 1947-54, York City 1954-58, Newcastle United 1958, Chesterfield 1958-60; died Sheffield 18 April 2012.