Part of a long line of top-level goalkeepers produced in the town, Joe Fall began his career with Redcar as a teenager. Born in Manchester, he grew up in Redcar as his parents ran the Jolly Sailor Hotel. He helped Redcar and Coatham to lift the Cleveland Junior Cup in 1890 and his performances earned him a call-up to the senior team shortly afterwards.
After guesting for Whitby in 1891, he signed for Middlesbrough the following year. “Fall, a Redcar acquisition, played splendidly in goal,” said The Yorkshire Herald of his performance against town rivals Ironopolis. “He promises to make a first-class custodian.”
Newton Heath, better known today as Manchester United, agreed with their analysis, and took him on in 1893. He was the first-choice goalkeeper for The Heathens that season. He helped knock former club Middlesbrough out of the FA Cup with a 4-0 victory. His 23 league games gives him the surprising honour of being Newton Heath’s all-time Football League appearance maker for a goalkeeper. Despite receiving a standing ovation for their match against Wolves in November 1893, Fall found himself falling down the pecking order after the arrival of William Douglas.
He spent the 1894/95 season in non-league after his valuation of £60 was not met. After a few games with South Shore, the Blackpool side who reached the FA Cup quarter finals in 1885/86 along with Redcar and Coatham, he then played the remainder of the season with Kettering. He moved to Small Heath Alliance, Redcar’s vanquishers in that 1886 quarter final now better known as Birmingham City, in 1895 for the sum of £20.
An injury at the start of the season put paid to his chances of earning a first team spot. Unfortunately he only made two appearances all season. After placing a series of adverts in the paper making himself available for a new club, he eventually joined Altrincham.
Many thanks to MUFCinfo