The family of legendary goalkeeper Bert Williams said they have been overwhelmed with the heart-warming response of the public since his death – and revealed they had been reunited with relatives they never knew they had.
Tributes have poured in from around the world following the death of the former England, Wolves and Walsall stopper on January 19, including an emotional farewell from players, fans and former players before Wolves’ recent game with Bristol City at Molineux.
And for Bert’s daughter Ann, the coverage of her father’s life in the Express & Star led to an emotional meeting with a relative she had never seen before.
Her husband David Crawshaw said the family were contacted by Janice Lukanik, the daughter of Bert’s late brother Jack, after she saw a photograph of her father with Bert in the Express & Star.
Now David and Ann are trying to track down other relations of the great custodian to join the family at the forthcoming memorial service at St Peter’s Church on February 5. David said he and Ann were overjoyed when they received a shock telephone call from long-lost relative Janice.
“We were so happy, it was a real bolt out of the blue to hear from Janice and it made us think how fantastic it would be to get in touch with other members of the family,” said the 71-year-old. “As the years have gone by we didn’t see a lot of Bert’s extended family. In fact we didn’t know Jack had a daughter until Janice came forward.”
Bert had four brothers, Hector, Walter and Mervyn, and Jack, who died in 1992 aged 69. “Of his brothers there is a possibility that Mervyn, who was the youngest, may still be alive,” said David.
“But we would like to speak to any of their relatives, be it sons, daughters or grandchildren. Some, like Janice, may have seen the recent articles in the Express and Star but are too shy to get in touch. But we would be thrilled if other family members could join us to celebrate Bert’s life.” Janice, aged 58, who lives in Stafford, said seeing the photograph of her father relaxing in the garden with Bert and his dog prompted her to seek out her cousin. “For years I wondered if Ann wanted to see me, but I never plucked up the courage to contact her,” she said. “When I saw the photograph in the paper it made me think she must be interested in meeting, otherwise why would she have chosen a picture of my dad? Having wanted to meet her for such a long time I am really excited about the prospect of seeing her. It is a shame that we will finally meet in such sad circumstances at Bert’s funeral, but sometimes it takes something like this to bring people together.”
l Any relatives who wish to get in touch can call the E&S on 01902 319445.