Middlesbrough born centre forward Joseph Gettins OBE was an amateur footballer who spent most of his career between his hometown club, Middlesbrough, and Southern League Millwall Athletic, with whom he had six spells. Gettins had a short spell with non league club Brentford during the 1894-95 season and his student friends inadvertently created the club’s Bees nickname, by chanting Borough Road College’s war-cry “buck up Bs” at a match. He made three cup appearances for the club, and also appeared for the famous amateur club The Corinthians in 1897, and toured South Africa with them that year when they became the first English team to play outside of Europe.
Gettins appeared for hometown club Middlesbrough in four spells and was a part of the club’s 1895 FA Amateur Cup winning side, when they beat Old Carthusians 2-1 in the Final at Headingley. He also helped the club to the 1896-97 Northern League title andwon the FA Amateur Cup again with them in 1898 when they beat Uxbridge at The Crystal Palace. He played in Middlesbrough’s first ever Football League match against Lincoln City on 2nd September 1899. In total Gettins made 10 appearances for Middlesbrough during their first three League seasons, scoring once in a 2-1 win at Lincoln City in December 1900.
Gettins’ longest association was with Southern League club Millwall Athletic, playing for the club in multiple spells between 1892 and 1904, by which time it was simply known as Millwall. He scored a massive 69 goals in 71 appearances for The Lions and won the 1894-95 and 1895-96 Southern League titles back to back with The Lions, in addition to two United League titles and also played in two FA Cup semi finals as Millwall were beaten by Southampton in a replay at Elm Park, Reading in the 1900 semi final, after a 0-0 draw in the first match at The Crystal Palace. Gettins also played in their 1903 semi final defeat to Derby County at Villa Park, Birmingham.
Gettins served as a captain (being promoted to a temporary major for a time) in the Royal Army Service Corps Territorial Force during the First World War. He was awarded the DSO in 1918. Before and after the War, Gettins worked in various teaching roles at Isleworth School, Borough Road College, Reading University and Liverpool University. In 1920, he returned to the Army and became Chief Education Officer of the Army Education Corps and later commanded the Army School of Education, having risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1933. Gettins was awarded an OBE in 1933.