Williams Bert Image 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1949

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Description

Bradley, Staffordshire born goalkeeper Bert “The Cat” Williams started playing competitive football when he was a member of the 19th Wolverhampton Company of The Boys’ Brigade (Bradley Methodist Church). He was then offered the chance to play for Walsall’s reserves, whilst playing for Thompson’s, the works team of the local factory he was employed at in 1936. He was taken on permanently and turned professional for Walsall in April 1937, making his Football League debut at Bristol City that October. He had made 28 appearances for Walsall by the time the Second World War forced the abandonment of the 1939-40 League season in September 1939.

During the War he joined the RAF, serving as a Physical Training instructor. He found time in between his duties to turn out as a guest for both Nottingham Forest and Chelsea in friendlies and also made one appearance for England in a wartime international.

With the conflict over, Williams resumed his career by signing for First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 1945 for £3,500. He immediately became first choice at the Molineux club, making his debut in an FA Cup tie against Lovell’s Athletic in January 1946 and playing his first League game for Wolves in a 6-1 win over Arsenal on 31st August 1946, a game that was also the Wolves debut of Johnny Hancocks, missing only 3 games that season as Wolves finished third in the League Championship.

He gained his first honour in 1949 as Wolves lifted the FA Cup after defeating Leicester City 3-1 in the Final at Wembley. His part in winning this prize saw him rewarded with an England call-up later that month, as he played a B international in Finland a week before he made his full international debut on 22nd May 1949 in a 3-1 friendly win against France in Paris. He held onto the goalkeeper’s jersey through the 1950 World Cup Finals, and at that tournament played in England’s surprise defeat by the USA, winning the last of his 24 caps in October 1955 in a 2-1 defeat to Wales at Ninian Park.

In 1949-50 he missed only 6 games as Wolves finished runners up in the League Championship and were again FA Cup semi finalists, losing in a replay to eventual winner Newcastle United at Leeds Road, Huddersfield. He eventually won the League Championship with Wolves in 1953-54, playing 34 League matches in their triumph, and he missed only 3 games as they finished runners up the following season. He retired in the summer of 1957 after playing his final match that April, having made in total 420 appearances for Wolves.

Williams was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to football and to charity. At the time of his death aged 93 in January 2014 Williams was the oldest living England international.

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