In December 1940 Redcar Albion played an Army XI in a charity match at Borough Park. One new recruit for Albion was a player who had returned home from service in 1940 by the name of Ernie Tuckett. Tuckett was born in Marske and joined Arsenal as an 18-year-old. He began his career at Redcar Westfield, also guesting for Guisborough Brigantes. He scored in their North Riding Junior Cup final loss, which convinced Scarborough to take the youngster on. After a brief spell with Arsenal’s nursery club Margate he turned professional with The Gunners in their 1935/36 FA Cup winning season. His appearances were mostly limited to the London Midweek League with the reserves, though, despite scoring six goals in one match. He made only two first team appearances that season.
He moved to Bradford City at the start of 1937 in a swap deal with Laurie Scott, who would go on to make 115 League appearances for Arsenal where he won the First Division and the FA Cup, as well as 17 caps for England. Tuckett’s time at Bradford wasn’t quite as successful, scoring four goals in 13 league appearances in the Football League Division Three North, going on to join Fulham in Division Two.
Football and war
Tuckett was a member of the Royal Air Force, and towards the end of 1940 he had an opportunity to return home to Teesside. Keen to keep his footballing skills sharp after the Football League had been abandoned, he decided to bring his talents to a local team, and he chose Redcar Albion. “With their inclusion of E Tuckett, the ex-Arsenal and Bradford City player, and the return of J Newton at centre forward, Redcar Albion hope to be at full strength,” wrote The Gazette ahead of a Cleveland League encounter. Newton scored four and Tuckett added another in an 8-1 win over Boosbeck Swifts a couple of weeks later. The following week, former South Bank forward W Russell joined the club.
“It takes a long time to make a good footballer, and war is a more deadly game than football,” wrote the Evening Gazette at the end of December 1940. Although Ernie Tuckett had spent seven seasons on the books at Fulham, he only played one game for them – a 1-0 victory over Chesterfield in 1939. He instead concentrated on serving in the RAF for the succeeding years, and had risen to the rank of Corporal by 1945. Sadly, he was killed in an aircraft accident on 27th May 1945 whilst serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.