Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday June 2 2014
Plymouth-born defender John Uzzell is the latest former Argyle player under the spotlight in the Where Are They Now series.
JOHN UZZELL - Born 31st March 1959 Plymouth, Devon.
John began his football career as a fifteen year old when he was selected to play for Plymouth Schools U15 team. He became a member of the Argyle Youth team before signing as an apprentice when he left school, after graduating up through the reserve team he signed as a professional on his eighteenth birthday. Although he had started out as a centre half Argyle manager Mike Kelly saw his potential and soon converted him into a full back.
John made his first team debut on 30th July 1977 in the Anglo-Scottish Cup Preliminary Group B game away to Bristol Rovers with Argyle winning 1-0 thanks to a Terry Austin goal.
In his first season he was an almost ever present, making 44 league and ten cup appearances, only missing the last two games due to injury. He also managed to score a goal in a 2-2 draw at home to Chester with Keith Fear scoring the other Argyle goal.
For the first half of the 1978-79 season John found it difficult to get games under new manager Malcolm Allison who preferred Alan Rogers in the full back position. When Malcolm was replaced by Bobby Saxton on 5th January 1979 John returned to first team duties.
The following season John made only one appearance all season as his manager preferred other players in defence, usually Tyrone James and Chris Harrison. Even his solitary appearance wasn't a happy one with Argyle losing 3-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday with Kevin Hodges scoring for Argyle.
1980-81 saw John playing more regularly than he had the previous season, making twenty appearances throughout the year.
When Bobby Saxton was replaced by Bobby Moncur on 1st June 1981 John again became the first choice full back and he managed to score two goals, his first of the season came in a comfortable 3-0 win at Chester with Kevin Hodges and John Sims also getting goals. He again scored the first goal this time at Bristol Rovers in the last away game of the season with Argyle winning 3-2 with John Sims and Andy Rogers also scoring.
Throughout the 1982-83 season Bobby Moncur continued to play John, he only missed four games all season. He scored in the first away game of the season but unfortunately goals from John and Jeff Cook wasn`t enough to save Argyle from a 3-2 defeat.
1983-84 season saw another managerial change at Home Park as Johnny Hore became manager on 1st October 1983, although the change made no difference to John who continued to be a first choice for a full back position.
Although Argyle finished the season in 19th position it was to be their cup exploits that would bring the club national recognition. John played in all eighteen cup games Argyle played that season, including four in the League Cup where they were narrowly beaten by Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury after a credible 1-1 draw at Home Park with Gordon Nisbet scoring. They also reached the semi-final of the Associate Members Cup before being beaten 1-0 by Millwall.
It was the ten games played in the FA Cup that really caught the public's imagination.
It took a replay against Southend in the first round to get to the second where non-league Barking were beaten 2-1, another replay was required to beat Newport before Darlington were beaten 2-1 at Home Park thanks to goals from John and Gordon Staniforth to set up a fifth round game away to West Brom where Tommy Tynan scored the only goal of the game.
Argyle were then drawn against Derby at home which ended up a 0-0 draw watched by a crowd of 34,365.
The replay was won by a goal direct from a corner from Andy Rogers. Argyle were now only one game from Wembley, unfortunately Watford won the semi-final game at Villa Park 1-0 to end our cup dreams.
1984-85 season saw yet another manager in the Argyle hot seat. With only one win in the first ten league games Johnny Hore left the club with Martin Harvey looking after the team for two weeks before Dave Smith took over. John remained a first team regular and managed to add to his goal tally when he scored in a 1-1 draw at home to Orient.
A broken toe saw John miss most of the 1985-86 season and also being part of a promotion team as Argyle finished runners up behind Reading to return to Division 2.
The following season John's appearances were limited due to a hamstring injury, but he still played in twenty five league and cup games. Probably the highlight of his season was being awarded a testimonial as recognition of his ten years at the club. On 25th November 1986 Brian Clough brought Nottingham Forest to Home Park with 6,303 turning up on a cold wet evening to see Argyle win 6-1 with goals from Kevin Summerfield, Tommy Tynan (2), John Clayton (2) and an own goal.
It was an excellent crowd given the weather, showing what a popular player John was with the fans who respected the fact that despite being in and out of favour with various managers he had played under, he had never asked for a transfer.
1987-88 and John Brimacombe and Leigh Cooper were the managers first choice full backs which led John to spend most of the season playing for the reserves. He did manage to score one goal in one of his rare appearances it came in a 3-0 win at home to Stoke when he scored the third goal after Tommy Tynan had got the other two.
The following season continued in the same way as the previous one with John again playing in the reserves until Leigh Cooper suffered a broken leg in a 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth on 12th November. John then returned to the first team and retained his place for most of the rest of the season.
He realised that once Leigh had recovered he would be on the sidelines again and started to look around for another club. He played his last game on 29th April 1989 in a 2-2 draw at Oldham with Nicky Marker and Greg Campbell both scoring. Despite being offered a new contract by the now Argyle manager Ken Brown, after 354 appearances scoring seven goals John left the club to join Torquay along with John Matthews.
The two John's joined up again with former Argyle manager Dave Smith. Although John Matthews left after only one season at Plainmoor, John Uzzell continued to play regular football until on 14th December in a game against Brentford John suffered a fractured left cheekbone and eye socket when he clashed with striker Gary Blissett. It would be the last game of John's professional career.
Blissett was subsequently charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but was found not guilty on 3rd December 1992 at Salisbury Crown Court.
Despite attempting a comeback it was obvious John was no longer up to playing football and after playing 92 times for Torquay scoring two goals he retired from football.
John works as a postman and lives in Ivybridge and is still a frequent visitor to Home Park.
Date:Monday June 2 2014
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