John Poppitt sadly passed away on 12th February 2014 at the age of 91. He was born in West Sleekburn on 20th January 1923. A junior athletics champion, but when he joined Derby County in 1942 he was no longer eligible to take part in amateur running events so he turned professional. John signed for the R’s on 6th September 1950.
He was introduced to the Rangers fans In the Cardiff City match programme on 16th September 1950 as follows:
‘It’s going to take a speedy winger to get round the new Rangers back John Poppitt. He has been a professional sprinter since 1940 and last summer won £200 in prizes at races over 100 yards. John is 25 years old, single, and, he tells me, “unattached”.
His sturdy first-time tackling reminded one supporter of Arthur Jefferson and his speed brought a second to compare him with Jack Rose – a combination that augers well for the Rangers. John was born in Newcastle and played for Blyth Spartans in the North Eastern League before transferring to Derby as a professional in 1945.
As reserve left-back he had the unenviable task of disposing England international Bert Mozeley before he could get into the first team, but had twenty-one appearances in the First Division side to his credit when he left.
He was with Cyril Hatton and Reg Allen in the 1947 FA X1 which played an Army representative side. John had an offer to go to Sunderland about a month ago but turned it down because he wanted to come south. He hopes to get re-instated an amateur in athletics so that he can take up coaching when his football career is finished.
Like many other Rangers’ men he plays cricket in the summer and is also a keen swimmer’.
After making his 1st team debut on 23rd September 1950 against Birmingham City, he went on to make111 appearances for the R’s. He was transferred to Chelmsford City in July 1954 and the following year moved on to Burton Albion. John later played for Banbury Spencer and Corby Town, and between 1965 and 1967 he was player/coach at Matlock Town.
Rest in Peace.
(My thanks to Gordon Macey for his assistance and to the Corby Town FC website for some of his non-league career details)