Welling, Kent born goalkeeper Charlie Williams started his football career as a youth with junior clubs Phoenix in 1888, Clarence in 1889 and Erith in 1890 before joining Royal Arsenal in 1891 as an 18 year old, signing as a professional June 1893. He spent his first two seasons in and out of the first team, his first senior appearance came in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Sunderland in January 1893, and when by now re-named Woolwich Arsenal joined The Football League for the 1893-94 season, he was their regular goalkeeper, being in goal for Arsenal’s very first League match against Newcastle United on 2nd September 1893. He made 22 appearances for Arsenal that season before joining Second Division Ardwick (a season later to be re-named Manchester City) in June 1894.
He stayed with Manchester City as a regular for eight seasons and was an ever present in 1895-96 as they missed out on promotion to the top flight losing in the Test Match series to West Bromwich Albion and Small Heath. But he missed only one game in 1898-99 as they won the Second Division Championship to secure promotion to the First Division. He also scored the first recorded goal by a goalkeeper, scoring direct from a goal kick in a 3-1 defeat to Sunderland (for whom none other than the classic Scottish international JE “Ned” Doig was in goal) at Roker Park on April 14th 1900, being ever present that season as City consolidated their position in the top flight with a seventh place finish.
He lost his place in the City side in January 1902 to Jack Hillman and joined Southern League Tottenham Hotspur in the 1902 close season after 232 appearances for The Citizens. At Tottenham he made 42 appearances over the following three seasons, before he joined Norwich City for the 1905-06 season, making 29 appearances for The Canaries. He finished his playing career at Brentford, where he made 59 appearances for The Bees between 1906 and 1908.
After retiring as a player, he became a manager, taking charge of the Danish national team, whom he led through the 1908 Olympic Games football tournament in London. After defeating the French B and A teams 9-0 and 17-1, Denmark lost the gold medal match 2-0 to Great Britain. He also later managed the Danish club B 93 and French side Olympique Lillois, now better known as Lille OSC.
Early in 1911 Oscar Cox, co-founder of Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro, on a visit in London, hired Charlie Williams to coach his club. For this Williams was remunerated with a monthly salary of £18 plus accommodation, alimentation and two return voyages. The man who “knows all the secrets and means of the violent sport,” arrived on 16th March 1911 in Rio with the boat Oropesa, becoming the first ever professional football coach in town, Fluminense itself had been managed by a Ground Committee up to then. He won the Championship of Rio of 1911 with six wins, no draws and no defeats in his first season with the club. The next year was disappointing with only a fifth place in the competition, now enlarged to eight clubs. During the 1912 Championship he also managed the team in the first ever Fla-Flu derby against Flamengo on 7th July 1912, which Fluminense won 3-2.
From May 1924 until September 1926 he returned to the helm of Fluminense, winning the Rio Championship of 1924 with second and third place finishes in the years thereafter. In Rio he also managed America FC, with whom he won the Championship of Rio de Janeiro of 1928, defeating Fluminense in the decisive match 3-2. From about April 1929 until the arrival of the Hungarian coach Nicolas Ladany a year later he also managed Botafogo, before coaching Flamengo during the 1930-31 season.