Nowadays football superstars become multi-millionaires within months but the prolific goal-scorer buried here earned little and worked as a solicitor between matches. His grave lay unmarked and unloved for 70 years. Aged 16 he played his first official game for Nottingham Forest and he scored three goals. Later he would go on to score 85 goals in one season. Oddly he played in shoes.
Tinsley was the third son of a lace dresser (and one-time Mayor of Nottingham) and lived in Nottingham. There was a normal childhood but his control of a football was above normal. At just 16 he played his first game for Nottingham Forest's reserve team and scored a hat trick. In the 1800's football paid poorly and wasn't the semi-religion it is now. To Tinsley football was a hobby and he went onto Cambridge University to gain a law degree.
Aged 23 he returned home and started playing again for Nottingham Forest. Over the next fifteen years this adroit dribbler, fast sprinter and prolific goal-scorer played for his native Nottingham Forest and other clubs. He steadfastly remained an amateur even though clubs wanted to pay him. Despite many offers he never turned professional saying once, “The aim of footballers should be to amuse themselves first, not others”. If there was ever a gentleman amateur who put more store on real work it was Tinsley. Though he played (and scored) for England football was just passionate hobby appended to life. Weirdly he said ordinary football boots (heavy in those days) slowed him down and he sprinted faster in brogues.
He gave up football aged 34 and turned his full attention to the law. He lectured at Nottingham University and was a County Court Judge. Through World War One he was Chief Officer of the Nottingham Special Constabulary and as Deputy Director of the Nottinghamshire Territorial Association (was awarded an OBE for it when he was 53.)
He died in Nottingham aged 74 as World War Two raged and was lowered into the ground where I'm stood. The soil was unmarked for seven decades before a campaign raised £6,000 to provide a headstone.
I struggled to find this grave but as I strolled among the dead I saw a flash and dash of bright red. Normally red means a wreath and a war grave but the red was a scarf. This was the grave I sought. I did a salute to the man who never played professionally but was one of football’s first superstars...and left.