Bert Williams: Death of a Wolves legend

Tributes are pouring in from all over the world to Wolves, Walsall and England goalkeeping great Bert Williams MBE, who has died aged 93.

This afternoon, Wolves confirmed they would be holding a minute’s applause before Saturday’s home match against Bristol City, and say a celebration of his life will take place.

His family have requested a private funeral, but say plans for a memorial service at St Peter’s Church are in the pipeline so he can be remembered by hundreds of fans.

The star, nicknamed ‘The Cat’ because of his extraordinary agility, passed away at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital, where he had been for a week, at 10.50am yesterday.

He played 420 games for Wolves and won 24 caps for England. He was the country’s oldest living international, with that mantle now passing to Sir Tom Finney, who will be 92 in April.

Bert’s family today thanked the many well-wishers who had paid tribute to him. Son-in-law David Crawshaw said: “Bert slipped away peacefully surrounded by family. You couldn’t have wished for a calmer way to go.”

Players joined in with the tributes on Twitter

Former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray led the tributes: “He was, without question, Wolves greatest goalkeeper and a top, top man. The word ‘legend’ gets bandied about too easily these days, but in Bert’s case he was the ultimate legend.”

Recently, Bert – who has a sports centre named after him in Bilston – fell victim to Alzheimer’s, the disease which claimed his wife Evelyn in 2002. Following her death he helped raise £150,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. Those efforts contributed towards his MBE for services to football and charity in 2010.

Born in Bradley, Bilston, he began his career with Walsall in 1937 and made 28 appearances for the Saddlers.

World War II interupted his career but he signed for Wolves in 1945 – despite interest from Chelsea – and became one of their most illustrious players, forever associated with the halcyon days of Wolves’ most successful years in the 1950s.

He played in the famous floodlit matches against Honved, Spartak and Moscow. In all he made 420 appearances, which stood as a club record for a goalkeeper for 42 years. His last game was against Aston Villa in 1957.

After making a few guest appearances for Chelsea during the war years, he played in two wartime internationals, and won his first full cap for England against France in May, 1949.

His international career was under way following his contribution to the rise of Wolves under Stan Cullis which began with the FA Cup triumph that same year.

It also led to his nickname coined by Italian journalists after Williams produced one of the performances of his career in England’s 2-0 win at Tottenham. ‘Il Gattone’ – The Cat – ran the headlines in Italy the following day and the nickname stuck.

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Flags fly at half-mast at Molineux today

Molineux’s flags were today flying at half-mast and the club has started a book of remembrance which is placed in the main Billy Wright reception, Waterloo Road. It will be presented to his family at Saturday’s game.

He leaves three children, Ann, aged 72, Vaughan, 64, and Paul, 55 – who all live near Bert’s home in Shifnal – two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He moved into a care home last year.

Leave your memories and tributes to Bert below.

Comments for: "Bert Williams: Death of a Wolves legend"

pffellows

It's sad to hear about the death of Bert Williams, who was a legend, when Wolves were once a legend in the days of my youth.

Johnwolf

Sorry to hear the news about Bert Williams death, a legend and a great man.

The world of football will be a sad place without him.

RIP Bert and condolences to your family and friends.

goldenwonders

Such sad news - Bert was so modest and truly a legend!

RIP Bert.

Sarkwolf

As a boy I played in goal for Wolverhampton Boys and was invited to train with Wolves at the Molinuex by Wolves scout 'Titch Harding' . On my second Tuesday evening who should I bump into but the great Bert Williams!!! He was the perfect gent. He gave me such good advice. A great man and Goalkeeper. I remember well One Saturday Match day I was in the' Cowshed end' Just behind the net and as he came out of the Tunnel and ran towards his goal area he saw me, came over, and had a very brief chat. How wonderful was that? I was king for a day. Thanks Bert for every hing. You will be missed

Bigbadwolftoo

Great ambassador for Wolves from his playing days and throughout his life. A true gentleman with self modesty, a very human outlook and a genuine friendliness to whoever he met.

We have lost a great man who will be fondly remembered throughout the Wolves and football worlds and whoever knew him or met him.

RIP Bert.

Condolensces to Bert's family and friends.

Gerry Mannion

Quite simply a very sad day for everyone connected with the Wolves.

The Flying Winger

Yes a True Legend and Gentleman of a famously well respected team the World over.

Doncaster Wolf

Wolverhampton Wanderers, the football world and the West Midlands are the poorer after the passing on of Bert Williams. I had the honour of meeting him just once and he was an absolute gentleman and so modest with it. RIP Bert, we'll always remember you with pride, respect and love.

sue

Very sad news.I meet him once, a lovely man.RIP Bert.

Quinton Baggie

Even though i'm a Baggie RIP Bert...respect.

Quinton Baggie

I did not read all of the report but to raise 150,000 on his own for the Alzheimers society shows what a great man Bert was...I can speak personally as this horrible disease is robbing my dad of his life...my dad used to watch Albion one week, Wolves the next in the 50's when it was the done thing so he would have seen Bert play.

Old Wulfrunian

Only 5'9" but a giant among men. The article and previous posts say it all. RIP Bert.

ukharry

We have all lost a great man, a true legend as a goal keeper "The Cat" will always be one of Wolves Best ! my condolences go out to Vaughan and the family.

A proper Gentleman and pillar of the local community.

R.I.P you have truly earned it.

Stokewolf64

Sad sad news...

Mr Bert "The Cat" Williams (MBE) you were a true legend and Gentleman..

It is ironic that on a comment to JIWAL's moving post on the 16th, I mentioned that Bert was my late Dad's favourite players. I was told many stories of how good he was.

RIP Mr Williams.. The applause will be loud at the Mol next Saturday.

UTW

BrierleyHillOriginalBaggie

Never saw him play,bit before my time,but only heard all good about him

These are never good times to hear about,commiserations to family and friends

R.I.P from a Baggie the rivalry counts for nothing during these times

brierley hill wolf

Rivalry - if only that was all it was instead of the hatred that is so common these days, I think quinton baggie above says it all when he said his dad watched wolves one week then albion the following week those must have been great days with such legends as bert, ray barlow etc banter exchanged instead of fists!!!!!! rip bert and all the black country greats up there in heaven

Stokewolf64

Brierley(s) & Quinton Baggie:

My Late Dad used to tell plenty of stories about the old local derby's, great football, massive crowds, and... Banter? lots of it. Fighting? never...

I wish I'd had the opportunity to be at one of the games in the 53/54 season... Vintage year for the Black Country..

Who knows... Maybe again one day..

UTW

bilodave

A true Bilston gentleman and a role model for all. RIP.

Rhys.wwfc

R.I.P Bert.

Solentwolves

In common with everyone else, I feel such sadness to learn this news. For me, quite simply, Bert was a boyhood hero. I have so many memories of standing behind the goal at the old South Bank end and marvelling at his skill. I feel so privileged to have been a fan at that time and to have seen him in action on so many occasions. He was indeed a true legend. A sad day - RIP Bert.

Mike Baggies Fan (Coseley)

As A WBA Fan, I would like to offer My Condolences To Bert Williams Family and to all at Wolverhampton FC, what a great ambassador to the world of football and a lovely man. This country England will never forget this great character and one that will remain in the history books for ever. May he RIP.

cornishwolves

A very sad day R I P , A TRUE GENT

Joe 90

I am pleased to say that I was most fortunate to have been a proud Wolves fan even back then and had the honour of seeing Bert and all the other HEROES who put the town on the map.

Goodbye Bert and thank you for all you did for US ALL

Cyril

A magnificent goalkeeper. RIP Bert, from a Baggie.

william.wolf1877

So sad to hear of Bert's passing.He will always be the no 1 in the all-time Wolves greatest line up. A legend and a true Gentleman.RIP Bert,thanks for the memories.Condolences to family and friends.

Baggieovertheer

BW, what a LEGEND as your owner has said and a true son of the Black Country. Condolences to all in the Wolves Family from a Baggie abroad.

karlwolves

Unfortunately unlike Billy Wright never had the pleasure of meeting him, but with out a doubt a Wolves legend, can not imagine what kind of team we have in heaven, we must be top.

Sidcup wolf

The best GK to ever play for Wolves, R.I.P Bert and condolences to your family at this sad time. A gentleman and true legend.

baggiebloke

RIP Bert Williams.

Thoughts with his family. Sad news today, he had a long fruitful life and will be remembered...

spanish ray

A sad loss.A true gentleman and a fantastic footballer.R.I.P.Bert.

Topwolf

RIP to a true legend.

Condolences to his friends and family at this difficult time.

Buckswolf

Top top man! God bless Bert - you'll be sadly missed!

101 chicken chow mein

RIP Bert although i never saw you play i was brought up on stories of how great you were by my parents and friends, sad loss of another wolves legend.

101 chicken chow mein

Also thinking of the late great Geoff Astle on the twelve anniversary of his passing,

colindbaggie

RIP Bert from a Baggies fan and a fellow son of Bilston.Too young to of seen you play but heard so much about you.

Broadbent-Deeley Wolf

The Top Cat.

RIP, dear Bert

tesswoody

Very sad news for all Wolves supporters.

Our thoughts go out to Bert's family.

RIP Bert and please give a big hug to my dad. You were his team.

paulpip

Great man RIP.

Wonderful to see support and condolences for this great man from all sides of the Black Country.

Doyler!

R.I.P Bert. A true professional and gentleman.

paul

Good night Bert, i never met you or saw you play, but i wish i had, Those who met you have told me you were the true gentleman of football Billy will welcome you into gods team, God Bless.

Bedford Wolf

Rest In Peace Bert 'The Cat' Williams MBE. Forever golden in our hearts.

Jack the Hat

Football will miss one of its true greats.

Condolences to family and friends.

Memory:

I still have my kid size replica cricket bat which I had from his shop in Oxford Street ,Bilston. It was made in Nottingham and bears his painted signature. Bit battered through use though. Gentleman.

______________________J♣H.

JohnWishbear

WBA fan in peace. Sorry to hear of your loss. Seems like a top bloke. RIP.

Raoof

I was still in Mauritius when I took notice of Wolves prowess in 1955 and from then on I became a staunch Wolves supporter. It is livid in my memory of that superb team clinching 3 League titles and one FA Cup. Plus the floodlit games which enabled Wolves to dominate the best in the world. So I am like all Wolves fans and other football fans very sad to hear of the passing away of such a superb goalkeeper and a true legend. My condolences to his family and the clubs he so dearly served.

Jackett the Hat

Bradley's finest, time for all even when not feeling well. The 'Cat' was a gent in every sense and will be sadly missed around the world.

Rest in peace me mon.

Golden Wanderer

Wasn't going to post after E&S changed the log in procedure and had to change my username for some reason but i had to comment on such a true great passing away.

Today's players on their thousands a week with less than half the talent of this gracious man should take the time to realise what this guy and several others of that era went through when the game was more about the pride of playing than their pay packet.

Too young to see him play but you only have to hear what people have said during and after his career to realise what a great person he was.

Commiserations to all of Bert's family. A true Wolves legend.

Geebee

RIP Bert Williams one of the best of the very best. A credit to Wolves and England and you will be missed.

Bazrat

True greatness never comes around often and you can count yourself among the greats,rip Bert.

Stearmans overhead kick

Very sad news .Bert Williams, Legend, Gentleman, and Played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Perfect Epitaph, R.I .P. Bert.

Farmer Ted

My fiirst match ever at Molineux

Bert Williams in goal for Wolves, Ted Ditchburn in goal for Spurs

Oh those memories

God bless you Bert

hannah.howse

i had the pleasure of meeting bert williams at molineux in 2011 on my 17th birthday.He was a true gentleman

Rest in peace bert williams

gone but never forgotten

funny old world

RIP from a baggie, my dad and uncle used to watch him play, came over as a very honourable man.

Bleydh

I can just about remember Bert. My Dad always said he was the greatest ever . . . . and he supported Spurs.

Simply the best.

Condolences to his family.

RIP.

Albrightondek

Few people achieve legendary status in their own lifetime, but Bert Williams managed to do that. I never saw him play, but he clearly was something special if people still talk about him in the same breath of other greats of that golden era of the fifties.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

RIP Bert Williams - your name and memory will live on.

WALL HEATH BAGGIE

My Dad said he was a ' good un ' and he did not say that about many Wolves players . My sympathies to all concerned .

RIP Bert.

ajnm

Well before my time but heard many story`s about the great man , a true legend, RIP Bert .

Slawit Wolf

I saw Bert play and this little story describes what I thought of him. One night my parents came into my bedroom as they had heard a noise. They found me out of bed sleep-walking! I had a pillow pushed against a window and was calling in my sleep 'Bert Williams is the greatest! Bert Williams is the greatest!' Thankfully I have grown out of sleep-walking at night.

My condolences to his family.

Blocko Saddler

RIP to Saddlers & Wolves legend.

CantelloRocket 78

I've only just become aware of Bert's death, and although I was too young to see him play, he's always been given great respect and praise from fans of that Era, so I appreciate what a sad loss it is to his family, and to Wolves as a club.

R.I.P Bert, it seems modern players could learn a lot from your ability, and status as a great man.

Stokewolf64

CR78: couldn't agree more, if the majority of today's players had an ounce of Bert's humility and loyalty, then they would get a lot more respect back from the fans..

UTW

Gornalwolf

If religion is your thing.and you believe in heaven, ...........then there is one hell of a great black country (Wolves and WBA) squad forming up there!

enjaume

Very sad. I was a teenager living 400 yards away from the Walsall football ground and Bert was my idol. When he moved to Wolves I became a Wolves supporter.

Robert

First saw him when I was 8 - until that day I was more interested in the flash from the trolley bus cables at the top of Molineux Street visible from my perch on the wall near the players tunnel. Many fabulous goalkeeping displays are recalled over the years since that time in 1949 and also of his friendship in the 50s with my Uncle for whom he supplied many match and International tickets - sometimes on match days I recall waiting with my Uncle as through an open window in the Wolves team changing rooms tickets were handed over to us. Later as i watched from the North Bank he was to prove what a fabulous goalkeeper he was. You may say that times and pitches have changed now but goalkeepers back then were not pampered as today's keepers are- goalkeepers were liable to end up in the net with the ball from an opposing forwards charge and the referee signal "goal". And the leather ball was extremely heavy compared to the "balloons" used in today's game. Another Wolves hero gone but certainly never forgotten. I am still a ST holder at Wolves and shall think fondly of Bert at Kick off v Bristol City on Saturday still from the "North Bank". Unforgettable memories.

S.E. Clarkson

Together with Jack Holden, arguably the two sporting icons of the Black Country.

My sincere condolences to his family.

One of my most enduring memories of Bert was, strangely enough when they lost to Sunderland 3-0.

In those days goalkeepers were fair game for opposing forwards in fact my father refused to watch me play in goal for the school because, he said he wasn't going to see me get knocked about.

The Sunderland and Wales center forward, Trevor Ford was one who took full advantage of this and during the match in question he actually kicked Bert in the head when he was on the ground with the ball. Which would have got him at least a red card nowadays. At the time it was the practice to pass the young kids overhead to sit on the wall behind the goal and when this happened I could hear my dad cursing. I am 71 years of age now and I still haven't heard the names that my father called Trevor Ford. I think, working at the steelworks where there was a large Polish presence, he reverted to Polish. Bert, after a little attention from Joe Gardiner and the magic sponge just got on with the game.

One last thing, at the risk of sounding picky on this sad occasion, Bert was born in Bradley, COSELEY not Bilston, let's get it right for once.

RIP Bert. S.E. Clarkson, Arizona

BeeCee

The best goalkeeper ever to grace soccer stadiums anywhere!!!

The man was a gentleman both ON and OFF the field.

Truro Wolf

God bless you Bert, a true legend. Whenever the last line of defence you were never found wanting.

Billy Wilson

Bert Williams - TRIBUTE - BILLY WILSON

In 1985 Bert and myself were working on collecting Hay from his fields at his House.

It was Wolverhampton Millennium Year, I was making the Marathon the Central Showpiece.

I asked Bert to collect together all of the Team for a celebration in Wolverhampton Council Chamber.

In 1985 King Aethelred had given the area of the Town to his mistress Lady Wulfruna.

He had also given the other areas to Westminster Abbey.

So I invited the Lord Mayor of Westminster to the proceedings of Celebration.

The Lord Mayor of Westminster accepted the Invitation.

So I asked Bert to do the Honours with the Team to meet and Greet the Lord Mayor.

Duly on the night ALL of the Team came including Stan Cullis the Manager.

Billy Wright said "Give me a drink, 3 fingers of whiskey."

I did the Master of Ceremonies bit. I then asked Bert to thank the Lord Mayor of Westminster for his attendance.

Bert stood up and said, It is the Captains job to speak and lifted Billy Wrights shoulder.

Billy stood up and said "I want to firstly say, this is the first time anyone has asked us to a Civic Occasion, since we stopped playing".

Billy was at that time Head of TV Sport. So we all enjoyed his very strong message banter.

Bert was his usual placid happy self.

Billy Wilson

21st January 2014

Bert Williams - TRIBUTE - BILLY WILSON

In 1985 Bert and myself were working on collecting Hay from his fields at his House.

It was Wolverhampton Millennium Year, I was making the Marathon the Central Showpiece.

I asked Bert to collect together all of the Team for a celebration in Wolverhampton Council Chamber.

In 1985 King Aethelred had given the area of the Town to his mistress Lady Wulfruna.

He had also given the other areas to Westminster Abbey.

So I invited the Lord Mayor of Westminster to the proceedings of Celebration.

The Lord Mayor of Westminster accepted the Invitation.

So I asked Bert to do the Honours with the Team to meet and Greet the Lord Mayor.

Duly on the night ALL of the Team came including Stan Cullis the Manager.

Billy Wright said "Give me a drink, 3 fingers of whiskey."

I did the Master of Ceremonies bit. I then asked Bert to thank the Lord Mayor of Westminster for his attendance.

Bert stood up and said, It is the Captains job to speak and lifted Billy Wrights shoulder.

Billy stood up and said "I want to firstly say, this is the first time anyone has asked us to a Civic Occasion, since we stopped playing".

Billy was at that time Head of TV Sport. So we all enjoyed his very strong message banter.

Bert was his usual placid happy self.

jayne

I would like to pay tribute to the late, great Wolves and England goal keeper, Bert Williams, who was the ultimate pro and who players of today look up to. He was proud to wear the gold and black shirt and was driven by his love of football and was not money motivated like many of the players of today. He put Bilston on the map. He is a true LEGEND of Wolves Football Club. RIP Bert. My thoughts go to his family. BERT YOU WERE THE BEST.

From: MEL HARPER, COSELEY.