John Gidman - Player Profile
Born Liverpool, January 10, 1954
A career which promised much but ultimately delivered little of note, certainly in the way of honours, was that of the stylish full back John Gidman.
Having been released by Liverpool
, the city of his birth, Gidman was snapped up by Aston Villa, at the time a third division club. He stayed with the club as they worked their way back into the first division but without ever truly establishing himself, the injuries that were to plague his career and the dependable experience of John Robson standing in his way.
By 1977, however, John Gidman was enjoying a spell free of injury and had claimed the Villa number two shirt as his own. Now his flambouyant, attacking style really began to flourish.
At this time the England right back spot was also up for grabs with Qpr
's Dave Clement coming to the end of his run in the side. To many Gidman was his natural successor, quick across the ground and into the tackle but decidedly the ball player the international stage seemed made for this defender whose confidence could border on the arrogant.
In March 1977 Gidman seemed truly to have arrived. Firstly he appeared at Wembley for Villa in the League Cup final against Everton
, a tie that would require two replays before Villa finally prevailed in a five goal thriller at Old Trafford. Sandwiched in between these games Gidman was also handed his international debut, again at Wembley, in a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg which was won comfortably by five goals to nil.
In a game that was generally attack versus defence Gidman had shown up well with his buccaneering runs down the flank and was heavily involved in the first goal. Despite this, however, Gidman would never play for his country again, Phil Neal becoming the preferred choice. Perhaps more dependable it remains disappointing to count 50 caps against Neal's name and only one to Gidman's.
At the start of the 1979 season Gidman left Villa Park in a £650,000 deal which took him back to Merseyside to play for Everton.
Goodison Park was in something of an upheaval at this time as manager Gordon Lee shuffled his pack in a vain attempt to find a winning formula. The FA Cup promised some hope but defeats in the semi finals one year and the quarters the next spelled the end at Goodison Park for Lee and, as it transpired, Gidman.
Evidently not wanted by Everton's new boss Howard Kendall, Gidman's flair was sought by another manager at a new club, Ron Atkinson. Gidman became Atkinson's first signing for Man United
when he moved to Old Trafford in an exchange deal, valued at £450,000, that saw Micky Thomas move to Goodison.
United had a decent first season under Atkinson, finishing third, and Gidman was excellent, his style of play perfectly suited to the tastes of his new manager and the vast Old Trafford crowds brought up on exciting, attacking football. Virtually ever present in this first season it seemed as though Gidman's career was ready for a new lease of life but it was now that a series of debilitating injuries really began to wreak havoc with his game and his appearances became increasingly sporadic during his time at Old Trafford.
There was one highlight remaining for Gidman, however, in the shape of the 1985 FA Cup final when he helped a ten man United defeat his former club Everton through Norman Whiteside's extra time goal.
In 1986 Gidman moved across Manchester to play for City but, despite remaining reasonably injury free during his two seasons there, his time at Maine Road was not a happy one with the club suffering relegation to the second division.
Following this Gidman's career concluded with brief spells at Stoke City and Darlington, another unhappy time as his final league club suffered relegation from the fourth division into the conference.
So there was an ignominious end to a career that always promised more than it actually delivered although that should not neccessarily reflect on Gidman himself, a man who, though a defender, always played the game with a great sense of adventure, skill and fun.