Joseph Morris Bates, aka Morris Bates, was one of Arsenal’s first ever players.
Bates was born in 1864 and, as with a lot of the Arsenal players from the late 1800s, played for Nottingham Forest, a club which has been attributed with lending the Gunners, then known as Dial Square FC, their red and white kits, which we’ve obviously kept. In fact, Bates was apparently the one responsible for the introduction of the kits, since he was also a referee.
The full-back was just an amateur at Forest, before he moved to the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich for work, joined by Fred Beardsley and subsiquently joined the football team.
Bates played a total of 73 games for Arsenal and was nicknamed the “Iron Man” after building a reputation for being a rather robust player, especially when it came to headers.
The defender played in Arsenal’s first ever FA Cup tie against Lyndhurst in 1889 and won the Kent Senior Cup and London Charity Cup in 1890 after being named captain.
At the age of 36, Bates decided he was getting too old for all this football lark and quit in the summer of 1890. Although he kept working for the Royal Arsenal it appears he cut ties with the football club since there’s no record of him after this.
Morris Bates passed away from tuberculosis in 1905 aged just 41.