Tributes paid to former West Brom and Walsall player Ken Hodgkisson
Tributes have been paid to former Albion and Walsall player Ken Hodgkisson, who has died aged 85.
Hodgkisson began his career with the Baggies in the 1950s, before going on to make more than 350 appearances in a decade with the Saddlers.
A scheming inside-forward, he was a regular in the Walsall team which won back-to-back promotions in 1960 and 1961, jumping from the Fourth to the Second Division.
Hodgkisson also holds the honour of being the Saddlers first ever substitute, coming off the bench against Workington in 1965. His later career included spells at Dudley Town, where he also began a coaching career which saw him spend four years at Albion youth team boss between 1981 and 1985.
Former Walsall chief executive Roy Whalley remembers watching Hodgkisson from the terraces and described him as a “great ambassador for the game”.
He said: “Ken joined Walsall at around the time I began supporting them as a boy.
“He was exciting player, someone who could score as well as create and one of the stars of the team which won back-to-back promotions and is arguably the finest in the club’s history.
“He remained a familiar face at the club. I saw him at last month’s game against AFC Wimbledon and one of the executive boxes in the Banks’s Stadium is named after him.
“He was a lovely man, a real football man and a great ambassador for the game.”
Born in West Bromwich, Hodgkisson made his Albion debut in a 1-1 draw against Villa in 1953 but was limited to just 21 appearances with his hometown club, chiefly due to the competition provided by international team-mates Ronnie Allen, Johnny Nicholls and Reg Ryan.
He joined the Saddlers for a £1,600 in December 1955, spending 11 seasons in total at Fellows Park.
Hodgkisson rejoined the Baggies, initially as a coach, in 1975. After leaving again, in 1985, he spent time working in Walsall's Centre of Excellence and also worked as a scout.
His death was announced by Albion’s Former Players Association on Twitter.
They wrote: “It is great sadness that the Association announce the death of Ken Hodgkisson. Ken a former Player and Coach. Our sincere co silences to his wife and daughters Debbie, Melanie, Allison. Will be sadly missed on match days in Regis Suite. RIP Ken.”