Have you ever heard of Fred Titmuss?

No, not the acclaimed England cricketer, but the record-setting England footballer from Pirton.

Our Fred Titmuss was born in the village on February 15, 1895, and would go on to set an England record that will likely never be broken.

One of eight children, Fred attended Pirton School from 1898 until 1903, and lived at addresses in Burge End and Church Baulk.

Growing up with his siblings and widowed father, he worked as a labourer and began playing football for Pirton United in the Luton Alliance during the 1914-15 season. Impressing there, he turned out for Hitchin Town FC before joining the effort to win the First World War.

He served in the Royal Garrison Artillery, the Labour Corps, and as a gunner in the Lancashire Fusiliers. His footballing abilities were evident, playing for his battalion's team in France, and he made an acquaintance that would change his future career path.

Fred's new connection was Bert Lee, who had played for Southampton before the War and was now the club's trainer.

He invited Fred - a 5ft 8in tough-tackling left-back with ambitions to be an inside-left - to come along for a trial after the War, and it proved to be perhaps the defining moment of his career.

The Comet: Fred Titmuss enjoyed a lengthy playing career after his upbringing in Hertfordshire.Fred Titmuss enjoyed a lengthy playing career after his upbringing in Hertfordshire. (Image: SaintsPlayers.co.uk)

Fred would go on to write himself into Southampton folklore, making 246 appearances for the club over seven years, and taking them all the way from the Southern League up to the lofty heights of the Second Division (now the Championship).

According to the 1921 census, Fred was still living in Pirton - now with his older sister and her family at Great Green - while playing for Southampton.

It was during his time at the Saints that Fred wrote himself into the England history books too. He made the first of his two caps in 2022, debuting alongside Southampton team-mate Bill Rawlins. They helped England to a 1-0 win over Wales at Anfield, and the match became the first - and last - time that an England line-up included two players from the third tier, with Southampton then in the Third Division (South).

Only two players from that level of football had previously appeared for the national team, and in 2024 you would have to go back to Steve Bull and 1989 for the most recent occurrence.


Fred went on to earn one further England cap - also against Wales, in a 2-2 draw at Cardiff in 1923 - during his time at Southampton, where he eventually became club captain.

It looked like he might have to retire in 1924, after an unfortunate incident where his eye was struck by the lace of the ball and his eyesight was at risk of being lost. Fortunately, it recovered in due course and he spent two further years with Southampton.

In 1926, he moved further along the south coast when Plymouth paid £1,750 for his services. It was another successful spell for Fred, becoming captain and making 166 appearances as he helped them win Division Three (South) and achieve their highest ever finish of second in Division Two - above Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

After retiring in 1933, he became a licensee/newsagent in Plymouth and played part-time football for St Austell. 

His post-playing career continued with a secondary school coaching role in Truro, before he became the first tenant of the Cherry Tree Inn in Pennycross, near Plymouth, around 1938. Around the same time, he took on coaching and scouting duties with Argyle.

Post-war, he continued in the hospitality sector as landlord of the Laira Hotel in Plymouth. He died in the city on October 2, 1966, aged 71, and will always be remembered for his Southampton, Plymouth and England exploits.