Bristol born left half Alf “Happy” Nelmes started his football career with Saltburn in 1892 and from there joined Middlesbrough in 1893 during their spell in non league football. He was a member of their FA Amateur Cup winning side of 1895, Nelmes played inside left in the Final at Headingley on 27th April 1895 which Middlesbrough won 2-1, coming from behind with Nelmes scoring the winning goal. He won a second winner’s medal in 1898 as Middlesbrough again won the FA Amateur Cup, beating Uxbridge 2-0 in the Final held at Crystal Palace on 23rd April.
In July 1898 Nelmes joined Second Division Grimsby Town where he turned professional, making his Football League debut at Manchester City that September. He spent eight seasons at Blundell Park scoring 14 goals in 234 appearances for The Mariners and was regarded by many as Town’s best ever left half, he was a master of heading and precision passing known for his fitness and ability to play at full stretch during matches despite a somewhat gawky and awkward appearance. Six of those goals came as they won the Second Division Championship in 1900-01, Grimsby then spending two seasons in the First Division before being relegated in 1903. Nelmes remained a further three seasons before joining Burton United in July 1906.
But they finished bottom of the Second Division, Nelmes scoring twice in 39 games, and they were not re-elected to The League. Nelmes stayed another year before joining Southern League Brighton & Hove Albion in 1908, and later the same year he played for Ilkeston United and then the following year for Gresley Rovers before his playing retirement.
He rejoined Brighton & Hove Albion as trainer in August 1909 under Jack Robson, and was their caretaker manager for a spell before the end of the 1914-15 season, but when the First World War led to Brighton suspending their footballing activities, he left following Jack Robson to become Manchester United’s trainer in August 1915. He left Old Trafford to return to Brighton for a further spell as their trainer in 1921 before retiring in 1926.