Phil Joslin 1916-1981 (photo courtesy of Sue Walker, Auburn USA).
With the passing of the years the number of football fans who saw Phil Joslin play for Torquay United in those years that fell either side of World War II is rapidly diminishing. However, those who did see him play regard him as possibly the best goalkeeper Torquay United ever had. In 1998, the Herald Express ran a poll for the greatest ever Torquay United side and Phil was selected by readers as its goalkeeper.
Phil was born in Exeter Road Kingsteignton in 1916, the son of Sidney and Laura Joslin and like many children from families who attended the Congregational Church, was educated at the local Council School in Sandpath Road. Phil's father had been an accomplished rugby player and one of the founder members of the now defunct Kingsteignton Rugby Club as well as serving on the Parish Council was many years.
Phil began his football career with his local side Kingsteignton Athletic where he won a Herald Cup Winners medal in 1935 against Heathfield Works. Torquay United spotted his potential and signed him as an amateur. His amateur status left him free to have trials with Plymouth Argyle, but when Torquay United got wind of this they quickly offered him a professional contract to prevent him being snapped up by their Devon neighbour.
When Kingsteignton Athletic played Torquay United in a friendly in 1939, over 700 crammed into Athletics's Garage Lawn ground (where St Michael's Road was later built) to watch their former favourite perform for Torquay.
A natural entertainer, his impromptu gymnastic displays on the crossbar during the pre-match warm-up, as well as his fine goalkeeping, quickly made him a favourite with the Torquay fans.
In 1937 his performances for Torquay were attracting attention and he was being tipped for future international honours. In a match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in January 1939 he made the headlines by saving two penalties which helped secure Torquay's first ever victory at that ground. However, like many footballers the outbreak of war later that year put his career on hold. His war service saw him join the Royal Army Service Corps and in 1944 he took part in the Normandy Landings. As the war drew to a close he was based at Aldershot and appeared in War League matches for top clubs such as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as Fulham, Crystal Palace and Aldershot. During these War League matches he often turned out alongside some of the “All Time Greats” of English football such as Tommy Lawton, Joe Mercer and Stan Cullis who were also serving in the Army.
After the War he returned to Torquay and was snapped up by ambitious Cardiff City in the summer of 1948 for what was then described as a useful fee. In January 1951, after a fine performance against West Ham, The Sunday Pictorial described him as "one of the finest goalkeepers ever seen at Upton Park". Cardiff City narrowly missed out on promotion to the old First division in 1950-51 and were hotly tipped to secure promotion the following year, which they did by finishing second. Unfortunately, Phil was denied a place in Cardiff 's promotion winning team through a broken ankle sustained in a clash with Cardiff City forward Wilf Grant during a pre-season practice match. Such was the severity of the injury Phil was forced to retire but remained in Cardiff and ran one of the City's largest pubs, The Three Arches.
Phil was also a useful cricketer starring for the now defunct Kingsteignton Cricket Club when it won the Newton Abbot Cricket League in 1935 and later for Torquay side Barton.
Whilst playing in the old Division 2 for Cardiff Phil regularly played in front of crowds of 40,000 alongside another Torquay United “All Time Great”, Don Mills. It was Mills who paid Phil perhaps his greatest compliment. When recalling his days at Cardiff City Mills said, “We had class players there like Phil Joslin ”.
Submitted by Steve Harris