A criticism of Waltham Forest teams in recent years would would be that the majority had a distinct lack of what you could call “typical” non-league players.
Most readers will know the kind – absolute brutes of players, with very little technical ability, but ones who would – more often than not – be on the winning side.
In Simon Tickner, Leyton Pennant and Waltham Forest had exactly that kind of player.
A local lad, he made his debut as a teenager during the 1995-6 season, coming on as a substitute against Abingdon Town.
However, he would have to wait another five years before he returned to the club to make his full debut. It was not a debut crowned in glory, as on the 19th of August 2000, we lost 6-1 to Hemel Hempstead Town.
An ever-present, he made 48 appearances in the 2000-1 season, and a further 34 in the 2001-2 season, playing under Colin Richards. That 2001-2 side could be called a bit of a “lads-on-tour” team, filled with “typical” non-league players. However, that side finished sixth that season, and had an excellent FA Vase run to boot.
After that season, Tickner left for Enfield Town, where he would make 106 appearances in two spells for the new club.
Hakan Heyrettin brought him back to the club at the start of the 2003-4 season and he was an ever-present for two seasons, scoring six goals in 84 starts.
In the 2005-6 season, injury and competition for places limited him to 17 starts. His experience in the dressing room however was invaluable, as he helped guide Waltham Forest to the Essex Senior Cup.
He always appeared the most experienced and calm on the pitch, and had an uncanny ability to win the ball without even challenge for it. With a long ball coming in the general direction of a young, naive striker, he would shout “SIMON’S UP!” at the top of his voice, despite often being five or six yards away from the striker. Having probably been clattered by Simon earlier in the match, the striker would have the fear of God in him, completely miss the ball, and allow Simon to pick up a loose ball with a smug grin on his face.
Tickner was a real fans’ favourite, who racked up an impressive 183 starts for the club, putting him fourth on our all-time list.
He was a typical non-league centre-half, something which every team at this level needs. His