North Ormesby, Middlesbrough born goalkeeper Reg “Tim” Williamson played at amateur level for Redcar Juniors and Redcar Crusaders before he kept goal for Second Division Middlesbrough in a friendly game versus Cliftonville as a 17-year-old in 1901.
Middlesbrough were very interested in signing him as a professional, but he only agreed under the condition that they allowed him to continue his interest in becoming a qualified draughtsman. Williamson’s first competitive appearance for the club was in a game versus Crook Town in the Northern Football Alliance on 1st January 1902, with his Football League debut coming in a home game against Bristol City on 19th April of the same year. Initially an understudy for Scottish international Rab Macfarlane, he gained a regular place in early 1903 and never looked back.
Williamson’s Middlesbrough service saw him make 603 appearances in all competitions, of which 130 were consecutive. His appearance total is still a Middlesbrough record. He was nicknamed “Tiny”, due to him being barely 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) tall. He played in the last game at Linthorpe Road and the first League game at Ayresome Park. He scored two goals, both from the penalty spot in 1910, though after he missed one against West Ham United he never took another, after feeling the task of racing back to his own goal was both too risky and tiring.
He was Middlesbrough’s first capped goalkeeper, gaining seven full England caps. His first came against Ireland in February 1905 in the first international to be played at Ayresome Park, in which he scored an own goal. His next appearance did not come for six more years, with the brilliance of Sam Hardy keeping him out of the team, with his last cap won 8 years later.
Williamson’s reserved occupation meant that he was exempt from a call-up for World War I. The Football League refused to sanction his benefit later on, on the grounds that those years during the War did not count towards his Middlesbrough service. He did eventually receive a game however, versus Chelsea.
His final game came on 24 March 1923, a 1-0 defeat to Cardiff City. At 38 years and 9 months old, he would be the oldest player to represent Boro until Bryan Robson broke that record 74 years later. On retirement, he was paid a sum of £1,000, as well as a silver tea and coffee service from Middlesbrough chairman Philip Bach. Williamson continued to keep goal for a works team, however.