Bert Williams: Memorial for Wolves and England goalkeeper
- 5 February 2014
- From the section Birmingham & Black Country
A public memorial service has taken place for ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers and England goalkeeper Bert Williams.
Williams, who had been the oldest surviving England international, died last month aged 93.
Former England stars Gordon Banks and Ron Flowers were among hundreds of mourners at the ceremony at St Peter's Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton.
Williams made 420 appearances for the Midlands club and played in England's first World Cup campaign.
Williams, who lived in Shifnal, Shropshire, won 24 caps for England and was part of the side that suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to the United States in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
He was later made an MBE for services to football and charity.
His son Paul, said his father's long life had been due to the "strict" exercise regime he maintained into old age.
Reverend David Wright read a tribute from the family at the service, which spoke of his love for his garden, and stated: "Dad left us with a million good memories and even more smiles."
People at the ceremony said they had fond memories of the player.
Carlo Federico, 68, a former Wolves academy coach and schoolboy liaison officer, described Williams as "a legend".
"He remained a gentleman to the last... his integrity was fantastic," he said.
Gerald Turvey, 85, who went to his first Wolves game in 1936, met Williams at a book signing and said he was "very, very friendly".
The former keeper's skill was "unbelievable", he said.
"He was small [for a goalkeeper] so he had to dive all over the place," Mr Turvey said.
Ann Matthews, from Bilston, who met him up to a dozen times, said: "He was a nice down to earth lovely guy.
"He was just normal, nice and gave wonderful hugs."
George Fletcher, 84, from Sedgley, a West Bromwich Albion fan who watched the Baggies and Wolves in the 1950s when Williams was playing, said: "He was so agile. I was sorry he didn't play for the Albion!"
The first hymn was Abide With Me, which Mr Wright pointed out had a close association with football, being sung before the FA Cup final each year.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vice-president Rachael Heyhoe-Flint paid tribute to Williams and representatives from Walsall FC, the club he joined Wolves from after World War Two, attended the service.
Addresses were given by broadcasters Bob Hall and Ian Winter, from BBC Midlands Today, who described his friend as "so genuinely modest and unassuming".
The BBC reporter added: "He had an extraordinary gift of making every visitor feel special."