Top 5 goalkeepers in England: Terry Ainsworth’s 1st choice

I have written so much about Bert Williams in “Memory Lane” and “The Cat” and I would suggest that visitors to the site read more about England’s greatest ever goalkeeper on those two tabs.  Legend is a word which may be over-used these days, but in the case of Bert Williams it simply doesn’t do him justice.  When you look at lists of so-called modern day top custodians who are erroneously described as “great” it simply makes me smile.

Bert made 420 appearances for Wolves, including their 1949 FA Cup final success against Leicester City, and was a member of the 1953-54 league championship-winning side.

Bert Williams in action against Wales in Cardiff

He won 24 England caps, appearing at the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil. 'Bert was not only a fantastic footballer both for club and country, but also a true gentleman who loved Wolves,' said Wanderers chairman Steve Morgan.

I never had the good fortune to meet Bert but one thing we had in common was meeting the Duke of Gloucester prior to a game.  Bert’s meeting was prior to an England versus Scotland game while mine was three years later prior to a Gillette Cup Final at Craven Cottage, London when I played for Lancashire Boys’ Clubs against Hampshire.

Bert Williams greets the Duke of Gloucester before a
1955 England v Scotland game

Craven Cottage football ground in 1958 and
Terry Ainsworth is introduced to the Duke of Gloucester

Two photographs from his England days also show the wonderful players who represented England at the same time as Bert.

May 18th 1955 and England played Spain in Madrid in front of 125,000 fervent fans
with a Roy Bentley goal ensuring a 1-1 draw

Back Row (L-R)
Peter Sillett, Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Roy Bentley, Duncan Edwards,
Roger Byrne, Jimmy Dickinson

Front Row (L-R)
Dennis Wilshaw, Nat Lofthouse, Albert Quixall, Stanley Matthews

Arguably the best football player that England ever produced, Duncan Edwards, played in the match and on arrival at the ground he was asked how he thought England would go on.  Big Duncan’s reply in his lovely black country dialect was, “We ay cum all this road for nuthin”!

Sadly, a little over two years later in 1958, Duncan and Roger Byrne would perish in the Munich Air Disaster and that tragedy would rob English football of so many talented players.

England squad on its way for a tour of Italy, Austria and Switzerland in 1952

Billy Wright, Bill Eckersley, Bobby Langton, Gil Merrick, Eddie Bailey,
Jackie Sewell, Ronnie Allan, Tom Finney, Stan Pearson, Bill Nicholson,
Ivor Broadis, Jimmy Dickinson, Jack Froggatt (hidden), Alf Ramsey,
Bert Williams, Tommy Cummings, Nat Lofthouse, Jimmy Trotter

Bert Williams received an MBE in 2010, having a year earlier been inducted into the Wolves’ Hall of Fame.

Such a humble character despite all his successes, Bert not only achieved so much during his time as a goalkeeper for Wolves, he gave so much back to the club after his career came to an end.

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Design: David Ainsworth