Richard Day looks back at the career of the midfield maestro

Chatham born Dick Tydeman is a product of the great Gillingham youth system that was built up under Bill Collins.

He was a classy, scheming midfielder, although he wasn't hard in the tackle, not particularly good in the air and didn't score too many goals, his passing ability was second-to-none and he made 419 appearances in two spells with the Gills.

Dick joined the club as an apprentice in 1967 and was playing reserve team football in the tough Combination League against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, aged just fifteen.

He was named substitute for the first team away at Grimsby in March 1968 but failed to get on. On his 18th birthday (September 1969) he signed his first professional contract and finally made his debut the following month in a 2-3 defeat away at Torquay United.

His first goal for the club came in the return game against the Gulls, he netted the Gills second in a 4-2 home defeat.

He almost gave up the game in 1971 to take up a career in teaching but new boss Andy Nelson managed to persuade him to stay with the Gills and he won the Player of the Year award for the 1972-73 campaign.

When the Gills won promotion from Division Four in 1973-74, Dick was ever-present in the Gillingham midfield scoring five goals in 49 league and cup appearances.

In June 1976 Dick showed his sporting versatility when he acted as emergency 12th man for Kent in their Championship fixture with Northamptonshire at Maidstone.

After a number of previous offers had been rejected, he finally departed Priestfield in December 1976 when Nelson, by then Charlton Athletic manager, splashed out a then club record fee of £70,000 for his services.

His languid style meant it took a while to be accepted in SE7. Things soon changed though and while at the Valley he went on to make 158 appearances and scored seven goals.

He returned to Priestfield in August 1981 when Keith Peacock became manager and began to rebuild the side, re-signing him in a £42,000 joint deal with Colin Powell.

One story I remember about him was that he had the misfortune of missing the goalless F.A Cup 1st Round tie away at Plymouth in November 1981 after falling ill en route to the West Country having eaten a British Rail pork pie. My friend and I were slightly worried as we'd both eaten one on the same train.

His performances during that 1981-82 campaign saw him named in the Third Division P.F.A team of the season.

At the start of the 1983-84 season Dick played in four of the opening games including two against Chelsea in the Milk Cup. The second of these, on a dreadfully wet night at Stamford Bridge, turned out to be his last appearance. He came on as substitute at half-time in a 4-0 hammering that saw Kerry Dixon score all four for the West London side, but he still put in a man of the match performance for the Gills.

In October 1983 he left the club once again, joining Peterborough United and made his debut for John Wile's team in a 2-0 home win over Tranmere Rovers, in all he played 29 games for Posh that season.

He then returned to Kent playing non-league football with Chatham Town, Dover Athletic, Bromley and Canterbury City.

Anyone who knows Dick would probably be surprised to find out that he was once sent-off when playing for Bromley in a 3-0 defeat against Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground. This was in January 1987 and his crime - not agreeing with a handball decision given against him and shoving the referee!

Dick, who is now a taxi driver, was one of the many former Gillingham players who attended the service and funeral of club stalwart Bill Collins.

I have known both of Dick's sons Sam and Liam for a number of years now. Sam came through the youth team here at Priestfield but wasn't offered professional terms and has played around the Kent circuit with the likes of Bromley, Maidstone United, Sittingbourne and Tonbridge and currently plays for Kent County League side Hollands & Blair.

His brother Liam has played to a high standard around Medway, including Dewdrop FC, and he is currently playing for Blair's Rochester & District outfit.