Dick Pym of Exeter, Bolton & England

Dick Pym was born in Topsham on February 2nd 1893 and worked in the fishing industry while playing local football. In his early days Dick started as a centre forward but when he signed for Exeter in 1911 he appeared in goal in March 1912 and made 186 consecutive appearances in the Southern League.  In 1916 Pym joined the Devonshire Regiment and during WWI served as a Physical Training Instructor. Exeter City would join the Football League in 1920 and at the end of that season Dick was sold to Bolton Wanderers for the huge fee of £5,000, at the time a record for a goalkeeper, which in turn allowed Exeter to buy their own ground, St James’ Park.

This photograph was taken at Topsham, near Exeter, in 1963 when Dick was 70 years-of-age.  He gave up salmon fishing when he was 81 and attended the 100th FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1981 when he was 88.

Dick was goalkeeper for Bolton Wanderers in three FA Cup Finals, 1923, the first at Wembley, 1926 and 1929.  Bolton won all three and Dick did not concede a goal.  He won three England caps in 1925-26 and broke his collarbone, ribs, an arm and several fingers during his career.  He used to say, “that wasn’t bad considering what used to happen to goalkeepers back then”.

The 1923 FA Cup Final, “the White Horse final”, was famous for many reasons but mainly for Constable George Scorey and his 13-year-old white horse, “Billy”, pressing back part of the huge horde on April 28th 1923.  Wembley had boasted that it could accommodate 127,000 and 200,000 turned up.  The start was delayed by 45 minutes but the good-humoured crowd dutifully sang the National Anthem when King George V arrived, and inch by inch, “Billy” and other horses slowly cleared the pitch.

From that year on, FA Cup Finals have been all-ticket games.  The final score was Bolton Wanderers 2 West Ham United 0 with goals from David Jack and Joe Smith and Dick Pym picked up his first winning medal from the King.  That night Constable George Scorey was asked by his girlfriend Kitty what sort of day he’d had and his reply was, “Oh, just ordinary, lass, just ordinary”.

The iconic picture of Constable George Scorey & “Billy”, his white horse

Pym won his first international cap for England against Wales on February 28th 1925 in a 2-1 victory and the following month played against Scotland in a 2-0 win.

In the 1926 FA Cup Final Bolton Wanderers beat Manchester City with David Jack notching the only goal of the game and later that season Dick picked up his third and last international cap against Wales.  In 1929 Pym won his third cup-winners medal when Bolton beat Portsmouth 2-0 with goals from Billy Butler and Harold Blackmore.

He would play the last of his 336 games for Bolton Wanderers in 1930 before retiring and returning to the fishing industry that he loved.  Dick died in 1988 at the grand old age of 95 and what a wonderful legacy he left.

© Soccer Nostalgia

Design: David Ainsworth