Wadsworth Walter Image 1 Liverpool 1921


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Bootle born centre half Walter Wadsworth started his football career prior to World War One playing with Lingdale in 1910 and joining Ormskirk in 1911. He signed for Liverpool in April 1912, making his Football League debut at Middlesbrough in March 1915. It was his only appearance prior to the First World War, during which he scored 9 goals in 114 wartime matches, being very much one of Liverpool’s mainstays during the wartime period. Wadsworth was the quintessential tough man who referees had on quite a few occasions give a talking to because of the severity of his challenges. Wadsworth wasn’t though just going around kicking people and was quite an accomplished footballer. Wadsworth was at the heart of one of the best defences in the history of the club with Elisha Scott, full-backs Ephraim Longworth and Donald Mackinlay and his fellow half-backs Jock McNab and Tom Bromilow. Equipped with this excellent back five Liverpool won and retained the League Championship in 1922 and 1923. Wadsworth, who had been ever present in 1920-21, only missed a handful of games over the two League title winning seasons.

Wadsworth’s temper tended to boil over on the field to his opposition players’ suffering, but the fans of his adversaries also had to watch out. Spectators gave the players an ear-bashing as well back then and in one particular game against Sheffield United on 1st December 1923 at Bramall Lane Wadsworth snapped when goaded by a United fan. Wadsworth was unrepentant about this incident as evident by his article in the Topical Times, which was published the following week: “Let me state here and now that I hit a spectator, I admit it. I think I was justified because a spectator called me something that I will allow no man to call me. It must not be imagined that because a spectator has paid his bob that he can, willy-nilly, help himself in the epithets department. He has no justification for something worse than swearing at the players. He has not the right to shout vile words at them. I hope the action I took will lead to the offenders realising that they cannot lean over the railings and offer vile insults at footballers. After the match I begged the people of Sheffield to bring the man to the dressing room to see me. No-one came, I am sorry to say, and I am more than sorry that the man has not gone to court, for then the facts would be published and it would be seen by all in the game of football how some spectators carry on.”

For all his temperament issues he was only ever sent off once and he was evidently a fine player. Sunderland legend and England player Charlie Buchan described Wadsworth as the most difficult half-back he had faced. “You never know what he’s going to do next. He’s so unorthodox and seems to ‘get there’ without disclosing his intentions.” Praise indeed. In 1922 he represented The Football League but never played for England.

Wadsworth’s career low came at Anfield on 14th February 1925. Newcastle’s Urwin threw mud at Wadsworth who in return punched him in the face. Wadsworth was banned by the League for the remainder of the season. Once he’d lost his place in 1925, however, he only played 3 more times in early 1926 as Bill Cockburn was installed as the first choice centre half, before signing in May 1926 for ex Liverpool stalwart Alex Raisbeck’s Bristol City at the ripe old age of 36 after 8 goals in 241 appearances for The Reds. He became Bristol City’s captain which won the Third Division (South) Championship in 1927 with Wadsworth making 40 League appearances and also featured in 28 games, scoring once, the following Second Division season. He went into non league with Flint Town in 1929 but returned to League action with New Brighton in January 1929, scoring 3 times in 57 appearances on The Wirrall. He played into his 40’s with Oswestry Town joining them in 1930 before retirement.

The older brother of Harold Wadsworth who also played for Liverpool as well as Leicester City and Nottingham Forest.





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