Burnham, Buckinghamshire Vic Woodley born goalkeeper began his football career with Cippenham in 1928, playing for Spartan League Windsor & Eton in 1929, having trials with Chelsea and Aldershot before he signed for Chelsea in May 1931. He made his Football League debut that August at Middlesbrough and after 7 appearances in his debut season he was an ever present in 1932-33. He was Chelsea’s principal goalkeeper throughout the 1930’s seeing off the challenge of Scottish international keeper Johnny Jackson, and making 275 appearances in total for The Pensioners in a career curtailed by the Second World War.
He first played for England in April 1937 in a defeat to Scotland at Hampden Park, and won a total of 19 caps before the outbreak of War, remaining “ever present” during the period before the cessation of internationals due to the War, his last international appearance coming against Romania in Bucharest in May 1939. He was in goal for the 6-3 win over Germany in Berlin in 1938, famous for the team giving Nazi salutes prior to kick off (on the advice of Neville Chamberlain). He also played 4 times for The Football League.
He played once as a wartime guest for Tottenham Hotspur during the War. After the War he returned to Chelsea but soon signed for Bath City in December 1945 then three months later for Derby County to cover for their injured goalkeeper Frank Boulton, and he went on to make 30 League appearances for The Rams during 1946-47, but notably won the FA Cup with them in their 4-1 win over Charlton Athletic at Wembley in April 1946 having also played in both their Cup semi final matches in their win over Birmingham City in a replay at Maine Road. In May 1947 he returned to Bath City as player-manager where he remained for the next two and a half years, resigning in December 1949.
Note – he was the youngest of 12 children and very likely to be (but unconfirmed as) the youngest brother of Millwall professional footballer William Woodley.
NB This postcard commemorates the infamous “Nazi salute” international between Germany and England in Berlin on 14th May 1938. The match had all the potential for a diplomatic incident. Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Germany, had advised the team, through the FA Secretary, Stanley Rous, to give the Nazi salute for the betterment of Anglo-German relations, as a mark of respect, NOT nationalism. The Germans had already decided to respect the English national anthem.
The match was watched by Nazi luminaries such as Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler, up until the day before, was due to be in attendance, but he did not turn up on the day. Before the game, Sproston, during the debate about whether they should salute, famously told Stanley Matthews “I know nowt ’bout politics and t’like. All I knows is football. But t’way I see it, yon ‘Itler fella is an evil little twat”. How right he was! A reluctant England team eventually gave the Nazi salute and they then proceeded to play the Germans off the park, winning 6-3.
The players are:
Vic Woodley (top centre) – Chelsea
Bert Sproston – Leeds United
Eddie Hapgood – Arsenal
Ken Willingham – Huddersfield Town
Alf Young – Huddersfield Town
Don Welsh – Charlton Athletic
Stanley Matthews – Stoke City
Jackie Robinson – Sheffield Wednesday
Frank Broome – Aston Villa
Len Goulden – West Ham United
Cliff Bastin – Arsenal
Jackie Robinson scored twice, with Matthews, Broome, Goulden and Bastin each scoring.