A one-time Liverpool apprentice who was rejected as a teenager by Bill Shankly, John Gidman triumphed over this early setback to forge a successful career with Aston Villa. Moving to the Midlands as a teenager, the right back was an instrumental part of the Villa teams that rose from the Third to the First Division. During this time he also overcame a horrific fireworks accident that left him blind in one eye and played in the 1977 League Cup Final defeat of Everton.
Signed in a club record £650,000 deal in October 1979 that sent Pat Heard in the opposite direction, Gidman filled a right back berth that had proved troublesome to Everton since Tommy Wright’s enforced retirement at the start of the decade.
A DEFENDER with pace and élan, he was an overlapping full backwhose attacking instincts were an important part of his team’s forward play. Possessing the natural skills ordinarily found in midfield players, his storming runs on the Everton right were the prompt for a memorable Gwladys Street chant: ‘Ashes to ashes/ dust to dust/ if Gidman doesn’t get him/ then [John] Bailey must’. And yet, while Gidman became a staunch crowd favourite amid lean times, his presence was not enough to arrest the club’s alarming decline under Gordon Lee. After finishing the 1977/78 season third and the following campaign fourth, Everton dropped to 19th, then 15th during his two seasons at the club.
Following Howard Kendall’s arrival in May 1981, Gidman was an early casualty. The right back was exchanged with Manchester United for winger Mickey Thomas as Kendall sought to bolster his attacking options. The full back’s departure was widely mourned, but eventually led to opportunities going the way of Gary Stevens.
GIDMAN GAVE United five years’ service and was part of the team that defeated Everton in the 1985 FA Cup Final. A year later he joined Manchester City, later playing out his career with Stoke City and Darlington.