Tapken Norman Image 1 Newcastle United 1937

Tapken Norman Image 1 Newcastle United 1937


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Wallsend, Northumberland born goalkeeper Norman Tapken began his career with local club Wallsend Thermal Welfare in 1932, before joining Newcastle United in May 1933, making his Football League debut in a Second Division match against Bradford City in November 1934. After taking over from Mick Burns as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper during the 1934-35 season, he went on to make a total of 113 appearances for Newcastle before joining Manchester United in December 1938 for a fee of £850.

Taking over from regular goalkeeper Jack Breedon, Tapken made his debut for the club at home to Leicester City on Boxing Day 1938, keeping a clean sheet as Manchester United won 3-0. He retained the number one jersey for the next two months, but a run of four games at the end of February 1939 in which he conceded 16 goals saw Tommy Breen take over. Tapken returned to duty for three games at the start of April, but a 3-1 defeat to Leeds United resulted in Breedon step in again for the final four games of the season.

During the Second World War, Tapken played in the Wartime League for his old club, Newcastle United (nine appearances), and Sunderland (two appearances) in 1942–43, before finding more regular action with Darlington (32 appearances) in 1943–44. In 1944–45, as well as playing for Darlington (six further appearances), he turned out for Aldershot (three appearances), Brighton & Hove Albion (two appearances) and Chester (one appearance). He played one more season in the Wartime League with Darlington (six appearances), before returning to play 12 matches for Manchester United.

However, with the resumption of The Football League in August 1946, Tapken, now 34 years old, was unable to regain his place in the Manchester United first team, and in April 1947 he moved to Darlington on a permanent basis having made just 16 first team appearances for The Red Devils. He missed just 11 games in the 1947-48 season, but his performances could not help Darlington to any higher than 16th place in the Third Division (North).

At the end of the season, having made 32 appearances for The Quakers, he joined Irish club Shelbourne, where he spent one season before retiring from the game; it turned out to be his most successful season as a professional, as the team won the League of Ireland Shield, the Leinster Cup and finished as runners-up in the League of Ireland and the FAI Cup, while Tapken himself was selected for two League of Ireland XI matches against the Irish Football League.

In July 1952, Tapken took up an assistant trainer role with Stoke City.


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