Born Pont Robert, Montgomeryshire, 1868; died Chirk, October 1956
Centre forward/Centre Half.
3 caps: (Chirk) v England, Scotland, Ireland 1893
Career: Chirk 1887-93; Wrexham 1893-94; Chirk 1894-98
Selected at centre forward for Wales, Jack Butler had a reputation as “an erratic shot” but was inclined to overdo things. He was far more effective as a defender - a position he occasionally occupied for Chirk. He was said to be “a formidable centre half’, determined and vigorous to the point of roughness. Butler had trials with Bolton in September 1890 and the following month played a couple of games at centre forward for West Bromwich Albion Reserves, but neither led to a permanent engagement. A coal miner by employment, he was also a leading light in Chirk Cricket Club.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1890, 1892; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893; also made one appearance for Wales against the Canadians in October 1891.
Born Chirk, 1859; died Chirk, 25 March 1936
3 caps: (Chirk) v Ireland, England, Scotland 1884
Career: Chirk 1877-84; Crewe 1884-89
Along with Peter Griffiths, Conde was Chirk’s first full Welsh International having been capped against Ireland in February 1884. Conde was a powerfully built full back who was valued for his leadership qualities as well as defensive skills. He began his working life in the coalmines at the age of 10 and became a founder member of both the Chirk football and cricket clubs. Conde also had a liking for goalkeeping and twice appeared in that position for the Denbighshire County XI. He was the first of many Welsh international players to leave Chirk to join a leading English club, but remained an amateur throughout his career. The consistent Conde captained Chirk, and more notably Crewe in the Staffordshire side’s progress to the FA Cup semi final in 1887-88 (lost 0-4 to Preston). In his early career he also turned out for Oswestry and represented North Wales on three occasions (v Cheshire in 1880 & 1882, and v Staffordshire in 1881). Conde, who was awarded a benefit match against Chester in 1889, lived in Crewe for many years before returning to Chirk shortly before his death.
Born Chirk, 1870
Outside right 5ft 7ins 11st
11caps: (Everton) v Scotland, Ireland 1889; (Chirk) v Ireland, (Ardwick) England,
Scotland 1891; (Sheffield Utd) v Ireland, England, Scotland 1895: (Manchester C) v England 1896; (MillwaIl Ath) v England 1897; (Reading) v England 1900
Career: Chirk; Everton October 1888-89, 8 league apps, 2 goals: Chirk 1889-91; Ardwick February 1891-94, 16 league apps, 8 goals; Sheffield Utd January 1894-95, 12 league apps, 3 goals; Manchester C November 1895-96, 11 league apps, 4 goals; Millwall Ath May 1896-98, 29 Southern League apps, 16 goals; Reading 1898-1900, 42 Southern League apps, 5 goals; Manchester C 1900-01, 8 league apps; Stockport Co 1901-02, 29 league apps, 5 goals.
The FAW player assessment of 1891 described Davies as “ good outside right with a splendid shot and plays well with William Owen (Chirk) his partner. The only drawback is that he is rather selfish”. Like most of the Chirk players, Davies had been well coached by local schoolmaster T E Thomas and had excellent ball control and a fierce drive. He featured in the Everton squad for their first Football League season but was not retained and returned to Chirk. In February 1891, Ardwick officials were sufficiently impressed with Davies to offer him a three-year contract, - the first of three spells at the club, which was later, re-named Manchester City.
At Sheffield United, Davies found himself in trouble with the directors for taking lodgings in a public house and he was suspended for two weeks. Manchester City were keen to sign two of United’s players but the Sheffield club insisted that Davies form part of the deal. Joe returned to Chirk towards the end of his career and played a few matches for the club before calling it a day in 1905.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1888, 1890
Also made one appearance against the Canadians in 1891
DAVIES, STANLEY CHARLES
Born Chirk, 24 March 1898; died Birmingham, 17 January 1972
Centre forward/inside forward 5ft 11 ins 12st
18 caps: (Preston) v Ireland, Scotland, England 1920;(Everton) v Scotland, England, Ireland 1921; (West Bromwich Albion) v Scotland, England, Ireland 1922; v Scotland 1923; v Scotland, N Ireland 1925; v Scotland, N Ireland, England 1926; v Scotland 1927; v Scotland 1928; (Rotherham Utd) v N Ireland 1930, 5 goals
Career: Chirk; Rochdale 1918; Manchester Utd (trial); Preston N E April 1919-21,
24 league apps, 11 goals; Everton January-November 1921, 20 league apps, 9 goals; West Bromwich Albion (£3,300) November 1921, 27, 147 league apps 78 goals; Birmingham (£l,500) November 1927-28 14 league apps, 2 goals; Cardiff C May 1928-29 27 league apps, 10 goals; Rotherham Utd March 1929-30, I league app; Barnsley August-October 1930, 1 league app; Manchester Central October 1930-33; Dudley T 1933; Chelmsford C (trainer) April 1938-41
Stan Davies worked in the coalmines in Chirk for twelve months before he began playing for the local club. He was assigned to a goalkeeping role for Chirk Reserves in the Oswestry and District League on the basis that he couldn’t do much damage there and might stop a few shots! When war broke out, Davies was with the Volunteers at Aberystwyth, was immediately sent for training and by November 1914 found himself in France on the Western Front with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He was wounded at Cambrai and on discharge from hospital joined the Army Signaling School at Dunstable. Davies ended the war with the Military Medal and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
He resumed football during war time when invited to play for Rochdale, and joined Preston after the cessation of hostilities. A big, strong player, Stan Davies had loads of stamina and could hit a ball hard and true. He failed to settle at Deepdale, the club was not prepared to persist with him and he was transferred to Everton for £4,000. Although a forward, Davies earned a reputation for adaptability and could give a good account of himself in any position. In eighteen matches for Wales he played in two different forward positions and at right and left back. He was an emergency full back when the ten men of Wales beat England in 1920, and two seasons later took over in goal from the injured Ted Peers against Scotland. Little wonder that he was known as “Mr. Versatility’.
In March 1929, he became player-manager at troubled Rotherham but found that there was no cash for players and he had to rely on young talent. Lack of success turned a section of the supporters against him and he resigned in March 1930. Davies later played for Manchester Central in the Lancashire Combination but in 1933 was reinstated as an amateur and joined Dudley Town. During WW2, he managed Shorts of Rochester, twice winners of the Kent Senior Cup. He was later a publican in West Bromwich.
A member of the 1929 FAW party, which toured Canada.
EGAN, THOMAS WILLIAM
Born Chirk, 1872; died Tibshelf, Derbyshire, 1946.
One cap: (Chirk) v Scotland 1892
Career: Chirk 1889-92; Fairfield 1892-93; Ardwick cs 1893-94, 7 league apps; Burnley 1894-95, 10 league apps, 3 goals; Ashton North End May 1895; Sheffield Utd November 1895-96, 16 league apps, 4 goals; Lincoln C October 1896-97, 16 league apps; Birdwell November 1897-98; Altofts October 1898-99; Darwen (Lancashire League) June 1899-00; Royston Utd August 1901; Stockport Co September-October 1901
Egan graduated from Chirk Reserves to the first team in 1891 and was soon taken up by the Manchester club Fairfield. A diligent forward with a good turn of speed, he was described as a “tricky player” and “a fine shot at goal”. In 1895, Egan was thought to be Sheffield Uniteds answer to their attacking problems and he was signed to replace another Chirk man, -Jos Davies. After one season he moved on to Lincoln and had several non-league clubs before returning to Chirk around 1903. Egan subsequently moved to Derbyshire where he worked as a miner. His sons Harry and Douglas also became professional footballers.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1892
GILLAM, SAMUEL GLADSTONE
Born Swindon, Wiltshire, 1868; died Chard, Somerset, 13 October 1938
Goalkeeper óft 1ins
5 caps: (Wrexham) v Scotland, Ireland 1889; (Shrewshury T) v Ireland, England 1890; (Clapton) v Scotland 1894
Career: Wrexham Lever 1884-86; Wrexham Olympic 1886-88; Wrexham 1888-89; Shrewsbury T October 1889 - 90; Chirk September-November 1890; London Welsh 1890-93; Ctapton 1893; Brighton Ath; West Hampstead 1898
Gillam succeeded Alf Pugh as Wrexham Olympic goalkeeper and in 1889 the two men figured in a notable substitution incident. Selected goalkeeper Jim Trainer was unable to secure his release from Preston to face the Scots, but the selectors were not informed until shortly before kick off. Sam Giltam was hurriedly sent for and Pugh stood in for the first thirty minutes of the match. He had first caught the selectors’ eye when representing Denbighshire against Walsall in 1887 and the following year played for Bolton Wanderers against Everton, and Preston. In the Everton match, Gillam “defended his charge in marvelous fashion, accounting for shot after shot in a style that brought forth hearty cheers”.
In 1890, Gillam moved to London and captained London Welsh for a time. His last international appearance, like his first, was as a replacement for Jim Trainer. From 1900, business commitments put his football career into semi-retirement but in 1904 he was still on West Hampstead’s books. In the 1920s, Gillam was vice president of London Welsh and made the following comment on his first international: “my first experience of international football was naturally to me, then 21 years of age, a wonderful event. We drew without any goals being scored and when we assembled at the Wynnstay Arms (Wrexham) in the evening to dine together there was a heated argument as to whether Scotland had not actually scored a goal with a shot which I tipped over the bar, there were no nets in those days. Anyway the Scotch players took it rather badly and swore that I had swindled them out of a win.”
Gillam was later a hotelier in Cullompton before taking the Crown Hotel in Chard.
Born Chirk, 11 April 1865: died Leigh. Lancashire. 7 July 1918
One cap: (Chirk) v Ireland 1887
Career: Chirk 1881-92
George Griffiths followed his brother Peter into the Chirk team and developed a reputation as a goal-scoring winger. The two often played together on the left wing and made a fine combination. George was a neat player, with a deft touch and always eager to shoot for goal.
Griffiths made only rare appearances in the first team after 1892, giving way to Albert Lockley. A coal miner in Chirk, he later moved to Leigh in search of work and at one time was employed in an iron works. He was a member of the Leigh Volunteers and joined the Royal Army Service Corps in June 1915. Sadly, he was gassed in France and eighteen months later died from the effects.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1887, 1888, 1890; also represented Denbighshire v Walsall (1887)
Born Chirk, September 1862; died Cefn Mawr, 29 March 1952
6 caps: (Chirk) v Ireland. England 1884; v England 1888; v Ireland, Scotland 1890; v Ireland 1891
Career: Chirk 1879-91
Along with Charles Conde, Griffiths was Chirk’s first full Welsh International having been capped against Ireland in February 1884.
A versatile player, Griffiths could never settle in any one position in the Chirk team and appeared variously at inside left, inside right, left half and right back. The selectors’ dilemma was encapsulated in the 1891 FAW player assessment: (Griffiths) “has been playing in all positions, but should stick to half back at which he is good”. Griffiths was a consistent player and thoroughly reliable. One newspaper commented: “he has a good turn of speed, plays hard all through but should try to place the ball”. As a youngster he had been taught by local schoolmaster T E Thomas, whose method involved putting a mark on the school wall for him to aim at. To develop his left foot he was made to wear a soft gym shoe on his right foot.
A coal miner throughout his working life, he gave up the game in October 1891 after sustaining a bad injury in a friendly against Accrington. He remained fascinated by soccer, was Chirk trainer in the 1890s and in later years liked nothing better than to yarn about football in the old days.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1887, 1888, 1890; also made one appearance for Wales against the Canadians in 1891, and represented Denbighshire v Staffordshire (1883) and Liverpool and District 1883
HUGHES, ARTHUR HOWELL
Born Llangollen, July 1884; died Llangollen, 5 August 1970
One cap: (Chirk) v Ireland 1907
Career: Chirk 1906-07; Wrexham 1907-09; Whitchurch 1909; Llangollen 1911
Arthur Hughes took part in the 3-2 win over Ireland in Belfast, which clinched the 1907 Home International championship for Wales. Together with his brother T H Hughes, Arthur designed the gold medal, which was awarded to all of the Welsh players who took part in the championship. The son of a Llangollen jeweller and watchmaker, he worked in London for a while before joining the family firm in Wrexham with his two brothers.
An amateur throughout his career, Hughes was quick on the ball, showed deft touches and good distributive qualities. Like so many players he had a tendency to hold onto the ball for too long and try and overdo it, when a cross would suffice.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1909; also capped at amateur level by Wales in 1908, 1909 and 1911.
Born Chirk, 1869; died Chirk, 25 March 1958
Outside left/centre forward
8 caps: (Chirk) v England, Ireland 1893; v Ireland, England, Scotland 1894; v Scotland, England 1898; v Ireland 1899, 2 goals
Career: Chirk 1890-1908 (also occasional apps for Fairfield and Burnley)
A long time Chirk stalwart, James gave almost twenty years service to the club. He was already an established member of the village side by the time Billy Meredith emerged and was one of several mentors to the young winger. James, who worked as a coal miner, was an integral part of Chirk’s rise to premier club status in Wales in the 1890s and was still turning out for the club years after the glory had faded.
One assessment of 1899 described him in the following terms - “A very good centre indeed, he is speedy, combines splendidly and keeps his wings well in hand and is generally about the goal when scoring is to be done.”
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1892, 1894. Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
Born Trefonen, 1867; died Bolton, 27 August 1902
Left back 5ft 11ins l3st 6lbs
14 caps: (Chirk) v Ireland, Scotland 1888; (Bolton W) v England, Scotland, Ireland 1889; v England 1890; v Scotland 1891; v Ireland 1892; v England 1893; v England 1894; v England 1895; v Scotland 1898; (Manchester C) v England, Ireland 1900
Career: Chirk 1883-88; Newton Heath; Bolton W March 1888-1898, 228 league apps, 4 goals; Manchester C (£50) September 1898-August 1902, 114 league apps, 1 goal.
Di’ Jones was a typical product of Chirk football, preferring to use skill and guile rather than rely on an exclusively physical approach. Jones was one of the first full backs to shadow his opponent and wait for an opportunity to tackle than dive in. His style was in contrast to those crude players who made a beeline for the man in possession. He captained Chirk for several seasons and indeed led them to two Welsh Cup successes in 1887 & 1888. He was persuaded to try his luck with Newton Heath but made only a couple of appearances for the Manchester club before moving to Bolton. At Pikes Lane, he enjoyed a remarkable nine year career, captaining the team to Lancashire Cup success in 1891 and an FA Cup final appearance at Goodison Park three years later. His benefit match against Everton in September 1895 marked the opening of Burnden Park. He had originally moved to Bolton in early 1888, but did not become resident in the town until the Football League started in September of that year. He was found work at Magee, Marshall & Co, bonded stores.
Billy Meredith played an important part in persuading his old friend to move to Manchester City in 1898. Although 31 years of age - a veteran by early football standards - Jones showed no diminution in his football powers. In August 1902, while taking part in a pre season practice match, he sustained a cut knee, which at first sight seemed to be nothing more than a straightforward injury. However, treatment at the local hospital was limited to the stitching of the wound, tetanus set in and Jones was dead within ten days.
Honours: FACup Finalist 1894; Div 2 Championship 1899;
Welsh Cup Winner 1887,1888; also played in both matches against the Canadians in 1891
JONES, WILLIAM ‘LOT’
Born Chirk, April 1882; died Chirk, 13 July 1941
Inside right 5ft 6ins 10st 2lbs
20 caps: (Manchester C) v England, Ireland 1905; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1906; v Ireland, Scotland, England 1907; v Scotland 1908; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1909; v England 1910; v England 1911; v Scotland, England 1913; v Ireland, Scotland 1914; (Southend Utd) v Ireland, England 1920, 6 goals. Also appeared in both Victory internationals (1919).
Career: Chirk 1901-02; Druids 1902-03; Manchester C January 1903-19, 281 league apps, 69 goals; Southend Utd August 1919-20, 35 league apps, 7 goals; Aberdare Ath (player-manager) 1920-22, 18 league apps; Wrexham March-April 1922, 7 league apps, 2 goals; Oswestry T 1922-23; Chirk July 1923-26.
“Like Billy Meredith, ‘Lot’ Jones owed much of his skill to the instruction he received when a boy from his school master, T E Thomas. Whilst the boys were playing football in the school year, Mr. Thomas would be giving instructions and in this way young Jones learned, not only how to dribble but much of his game”. A collier in early life, Jones, who was rejected by Bolton as too small, joined Manchester City from Druids in 1903 but it was not until the 1904-05 season that he began to make an impact. One scribe remarked on “his cleverness in control of the ball, his awareness, bigness of heart, making one oblivious to the smallness of his stature”.
Jones, a nephew of Bolton and Manchester City full back ‘Di’ Jones, was an extremely gifted footballer, often described as “the brainiest forward in the league”. But he was also a grafter, prepared to do his share of defensive work. Despite his “wizardry with the ball” and “uncanny skill in drawing the defence before delivering a pass”, he was reputed to be an erratic shot.
After the First World War, during which he served in France with the ‘Sportsman’s Battalion’, Jones spent a season with Southend before becoming player-manager at Southern League Aberdare. There, he built a side good enough to gain election to the Third Division, but a disappointing run early in 1922 led to his resignation. He signed for Wrexham and great things were expected of him, but he was touching 40 years of age and the expectations were unrealistic.
Jones completed his playing career back at Chirk and became player coach and vice-chairman to his local side until his retirement in 1926. Ran a greengrocery business in Chirk and Oswestry until his early death in 1941.
Honours: Div 2 Championship 1910
Born Cannock, Staffordshire, 1874; died Chirk, 26 December 1939
One cap: (Chirk) v Ireland 1898
Career: Chirk 1892-1900; Druids 1900-01; Chirk 1901-03
Lockley moved to Chirk as a young boy and became another of the local footballers to be developed by village schoolmaster T E Thomas. A tricky and clever player”, his weaknesses were described as “a lack of energy and pluck”. Nevertheless, his display in the trial match of February 1898 convinced the FAW selectors that he was worthy of a cap.
Apart from one season with Druids, Lockley remained loyal to Chirk and ended up as club captain. In 1903, towards the end of his playing days he was described as “a good coach to less experienced colleagues”. Lockley was a miner for 40 years and a stalwart of the local miners’ federation. A keen cricketer, he was a long-time member of Chirk CC and represented Denbighshire.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1894
Born Chirk, 28 February 1870; died Chirk, 25 November 1938
3 caps: (Chirk) v Ireland 1891; v Scotland, England 1897
Career: Chirk 1889-1901
Jack Mates was described in the FAW player assessment of 1892 as: “a very good centre half - tackles well and kicks with judgment; played far below form against Ireland.” He spent his entire football career with Chirk, shunning all offers all offers to try his luck with front rank clubs. Mates was a pillar of the Chirk sides of the l890s and was rated by Charlie Parry as the best centre half in Wales. He was “always on the ball, here, there and everywhere”. The FAW selectors didn’t share this opinion and his disappointing performance against the Irish kept him out of the reckoning until 1897 when he deputized for Caesar Jenkyns. Mates was a coal miner throughout his working life. He also played the occasional game for Crewe, Chester, Northwich and Gainsborough.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1890, 1892, 1894; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893; also appeared for Wales in both matches against the Canadians in 1891.
Born Chirk, 5 September 1872: died West Gorton, Manchester, 25 December 1921
Full back 5ft 8ins l2st
8 caps: (Chirk) v Scotland 1900; v Scotland, England. Ireland 1901; (Stoke) v England 1902; v Ireland 1903; v England 1904; (Leyton) v England 1907
Career: Chirk 1894-1901; Stoke May 1901-05 45 league apps; Leyton 1905-April 1910 94 Southern League apps; retired
Long after his brother Billy had made a name for himself in the footballing world, Sam remained a player with the village team Chirk. When he eventually joined a senior club, he found himself mostly in Stoke’s reserve side. In his first match for Wales, Meredith was asked to fill the unfamiliar position of right half. His merits were more fully appreciated when he proved an able deputy for ‘Di’ Jones in the 1901 international against Scotland.
A splendid tackler and very reliable full back, Meredith was reckoned at one time to be one of the finest defenders in the Southern League. One writer commented:
“it matters not how the ball comes to him, he invariably gets it away neatly and does not kick it at random but disposes of it to a member of his own side”, while another thought “he would have gained more fame if he’d been in a stronger side than Leyton”. In 1910, he developed a wasting disease, which forced him to give up the game. He became a publican and kept the Jolly Forgeman at Newbridge near Ruabon before moving to Gorton, Manchester to become a landlord for Hardy’s Brewery.
MEREDITH, WILLIAM HENRY
Born Chirk, 30 July 1874; died Withington, Manchester, 19 April 1958
Outside right 5ft 8ins 11st 8lbs
48 caps: (Manchester C) v Ireland, England 1895; v Ireland, England 1896;
v Ireland, Scotland, England 1897; v Ireland, England 1898; v England 1899;
v Ireland, England 1900; v England, Ireland 1901; v England, Scotland 1902;
v England, Scotland, Ireland 1903; v England 1904; v Scotland, England 1905;
(Manchester Utd) v Ireland, Scotland, England 1907; v England, Ireland 1908;
vScotland, England, Ireland 1909; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1910;
v Ireland,Scotland, England 1911; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1912; v Ireland,
Scotland, England 1913; v Ireland, Scotland, England 1914; v Ireland, Scotland,
England 1920, 11 goals.
Career: Chirk 1890-94; Northwich Vics 1894, 6 apps, Manchester C October 1894-1905, 339 league apps, 146 goals; Manchester Utd December 1906-21, 303 league apps, 35 goals; Manchester C July 1921-24, 28 league apps.
Chirk’s most famous son went on to play for both Manchester clubs and gain 48 Welsh caps.
Once described as “the football wonder of all time”, Billy Meredith was the outstanding soccer personality of his age and probably remains the most famous of all Welsh footballers. His total of 48 caps was thought in the 1920s to be unsurpassable and he was in fact selected on 60 occasions.
The youngest of ten children, he won his first soccer medal at the age of ten in a dribbling competition. T E Thomas, a firm believer in keeping the ball on the ground, coached Meredith at the local school. Billy left school at the age of 12 and took work in the pits as a pony driver, “unhooking the tubs” and later “hutching”. His ambition at that time was to go in for engineering like his father and brother Elias. He spent ten years in the mines and continued to work there for some time after joining Manchester City.
At age of 16 he adopted the position of winger and it wasn’t long before senior clubs were taking notice of the youth from Chirk. Meredith appeared for Wrexham in the Combination before breaking into the Football League with Northwich Victoria. Billy was reluctant to come to terms with Manchester City and engaged their officials in a two-day battle of wits before Josh Parlby, their secretary, signed him. His reluctance was borne out of his mother’s disapproval of soccer. ‘Di’ Jones tried to get him to join Bolton on the Monday following the Thursday on which he had signed for City but secretary J I Bentley had “shilly-shallied”. Initially, Billy remained at Chirk so he could continue to work in the local pit at Black Park.
Meredith was suspended for the 1905-06 season for his alleged part in an attempted bribery scandal.
He deplored the fact that bonus payments by clubs were illegal yet transfer fees could buy in players. His efforts to obtain wages from City during his inactivity led to the discovery that players had been receiving more than the maximum wage and Meredith was transferred at the end of his suspension to Manchester United. A natural rebel, he was also a prominent member of the Players’ Union and a leading light in the organisation’s struggle with the PA in 1909.
It was not until 1924 that he played his last major match, for City - losing to Newcastle in an FA Cup semi final. He was at the time aged 49 years and 8 months, still the oldest player to achieve this. He also still has the distinction of being the oldest British International player at 45 years and 8 months when he represented Wales in their 2-1 away victory over archrivals England.
Meredith was the first man to win both Welsh and FA Cup winner’s medals. He won a Welsh Cup medal with Chirk in 1894 and won the first of 2 F.A.Cup winners’ medals in 1904 with Manchester City and the second with rivals United in 1909. ‘Old Skinny’, as he was sometimes known, was said never to play without a toothpick in his mouth, and usually prepared with a crust of toast before a match.
Honours: Football League Championship 1908, 1911; FACup Winner 1904, 1909; Div 2 Championship 1899, 1903; Welsh Cup Winner 1894; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893; also represented Denbighshire v Mid Wales.
Bom Chirk, 1889; died Blackpool, 1959
6 caps: (Rotherham Co) v Ireland, Scotland, England 1920: v Scotland, England, Ireland 192 I
Career: Chirk; Blackpool 1912-15, 30 league apps; Leeds August-October 1919, 8 league apps; Rotherharn Co October 1919-22, 82 league apps 7 goals; Barnsley September 1922-23, 5 league apps; Castleford Town 1923-24
Harry Millership was described in 1913 as “a solid, stalwart full back and an accurate ground passer”. His career was badly interrupted by the war and in the early weeks of the 1919-20 season he became a casualty of the Leeds City scandal when the club was closed down following an illegal payments investigation. Leeds were expelled from the Football League and the team dispersed. Millership’s transfer to Rotherham County for £1,000 was a minor sensation and one newspaper commented “never In the history of Rotherham football has anything approaching such a sum as £1,000 been either given or received for the transfer of a player”. Millership had to do without a share of the transfer fee as he’d only been with Leeds a short time.
A sound player with “timely interventions”, Millership gave good service to the Yorkshire club in their first few seasons in the Football League, some of his displays being described as “faultless”. After retiring from the game, Millership ran the Castle Hotel in Castleford but later settled in Blackpool. At one time he worked as an attendant at the Winter Gardens but later took employment with a firm of building contractors.
MORGAN, JOHN TRACEY
Born Llandysilio, Montgomeryshire, 24 August 1876
One cap: (Wrexham) v Ireland 1905
Career: St Martins; Chirk 1898-1900; Oswestry February 1900-02; Druids cs 1902-04; Wrexham 1904-06; 1907-08; Chirk 1908-09; Chester 1910-11
Tracey Morgan was a centre forward with village team St Martins but, like so many other goalkeepers, first took his place between the posts when the regular keeper tailed to turn up. He was brought up in Chirk by his elder brother under the roof of the Morris brothers, all of who were subsequently capped by Wales. Tracey understudied Jack, the Chirk goalkeeper, for three seasons until the opportunity of first team football with Oswestry presented itself.
In his first season with Druids, the stockily built goalkeeper stopped 12 out of 18 penalty kicks, and the following year added a second Welsh Cup medal to the one he gained with Oswestry. He subsequently won a third medal when he kept goal for the finest Wrexham team of the pre WWI era. A broken wrist interrupted his career in 1906 and for a while he contemplated retirement. His period as a Shropshire FA councilor ended when he was disqualified from office as a professional footballer. Tracey, who took the surname Morgan from his uncle, worked as a colliery under manager at Chirk and had a spell in the coal mines of China. He later left coalmining to work as a commercial traveller.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1901, 1904, 1905
MORRIS, CHARLES RICHARD
Born Oswestry, 29 August 1880; died Chirk, 18 January 1952
Full back 5ft 11ins l3st
28 caps: (Chirk) v Scotland, Ireland, England 1900; (Derby Co) v Scotland, England, Ireland 1901; v England, Scotland 1902; v England, Scotland, Ireland 1903; v Ireland 1904; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1905; v Scotland 1906;
v Scotland 1907; v Scotland, England 1908; v Scotland, England, Ireland 1909;
v Scotland, England, Ireland 1910; (Huddersfield T) v Ireland, Scotland,
Career: Chirk 1897-1900; Derby Co April 1900-10 277 league apps I goal; Huddersfield T August 1910-11 16 league apps; Wrexham 1911-12; Chirk 1912 - 1923
A heavily built full back, Charlie joined Derby from Chirk during the 1900 close season. He had just led Chirk to their first Combination League title. He was already a Welsh international player having been capped three times whilst playing for Chirk. His decision to join the league club ended eight years of employment as a coal miner. Morris, who succeeded Archie Goodall as captain in 1903, was hardly ever out of the Derby side except for injury. One reporter commented: “he kicks well with either foot and in almost any position, tackles promptly and clears with judgment”, while another thought he showed “masterly defence when hard pressed”.
His greatest soccer ambition was to gain an FA Cup medal but on his one appearance in a final Derby lost
6-0 and he had to take over in goal from the injured Jack Fryer. Morris, who was selected by Wales on 33 occasions, had to do similar duty in 1908 against England. His long association with Derby ended in 1910 when he left because he felt he wasn’t sufficiently appreciated by the club. He joined Huddersfield and took part in the newly promoted club’s first game in the Second Division. Morris had a spell with Wrexham in the Birmingham and District League before becoming disillusioned with the professional game and virtually giving up serious football.
Charlie continued playing for Chirk until he was 43 and later became Chairman and
an active committee member. His brothers John and Robert were also capped by Wales.
His greatest love was cricket and it is said he came close to playing for Derbyshire. A good all-rounder, he was principally a wicket keeper and described his finest sporting moment as standing up to the bowling of Sid Barnes. He subsequently worked as a cricket coach at several schools in the Wrexham and Oswestry areas, and was the Duke of Westminster’s private cricket professional from 1910 to 1916. He became a prominent member of Chirk Cricket Club and was a popular figure around Chirk until his death in 1952.
Honours: FACup Finalist 1904
Born Trefonen, nr Oswestry, 1872; died Chirk, 4 December 1957
3 caps: (Chirk) v England, Scotland, Ireland 1893
Career: Black Park 1889-90; Chirk 1890-93; Accrington 1893; Whitchureh 1893-95; Knighton FC
The son of a Chirk miner, Edward Morris graduated to the local side via school football and Black Park colliery team. He left school at the age of 11 to work in the colliery, leading pit ponies for is 5p a day. In 1891 his football ability, pace and power gained him a place in Chirk’s first team. Morris’s selection for all three international matches in 1893 was the apogee of his football career. When Accrington were relegated in April 1893 and decided not to compete in the Second Division because of substantial debts, he abandoned his plans for a career in soccer and joined the Shropshire police force.
While stationed at Whitchurch and Wem, Morris, who was an extremely fast half back, played in the Shropshire and District League. He made full use of his sprinting ability in the police sports, winning the 100 yards six years in succession, and took many athletics trophies in competitions in the midlands and north. Morris, who also served in Market Drayton, Ludlow and Oakengates was promoted to superintendent in 1920 and spent 14 years at Pontesbury until his retirement as Deputy Chief Constable of Shropshire in 1935.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1892
Born Chirk, 1872; died Chirk, 20 September 1897
Inside forward/winger 5ft 4ins
3 caps: (Sheffield Utd) v Scotland 1894; (Manchester C) v England 1896;
(Grimsby) v England 1897, 2 goals.
Career: Chirk 1889-91; Ardwick May 1891-93; Sheffield Utd December 1893-95 32 league apps Ii goals; Manchester C November 1895-96 16 league apps; Grimsby May 1896-97 21 league apps I goal; Millwall Ath May 1897.
An industrious little forward, Hugh Morris first made his mark with Chirk in Welsh Cup matches. He was taken up by Ardwick, then in the Football Alliance, and later returned to the club for a second spell after it had been renamed Manchester City. One writer dubbed Morris “an exceedingly clever player” but his play was not always productive and another reporter criticised him for being ‘Inclined to pass to and fro when a well-aimed shot was needed”. He died in September 1897 from tuberculosis at the young age of 25 without having made any appearances for Southern League Millwall.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1890
Born Oswestry, 1873; died Oswestry, 15 July 1914
One cap: (Chirk) v Ireland 1898
Career: Chirk 189 1-1903; Shrewsbury T cs 1903-04; Chirk 1904-07
Eldest of the three Morris brothers (see also Charles and Robert), Jack was briefly reserve custodian to Jim Trainer and later Dick Roose. He secured his Welsh cap against Ireland when Jim Trainer was on club duty and was unfortunate in having to compete against Roose for the goalkeeping spot after the Preston man had retired. Morris, who was Wales reserve goalkeeper in 1900 and 1903, spent the greater part of his career at Chirk, breaking his loyalty to the village club for a spell at Shrewsbury and occasional games for Northwich Vics.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1894; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
Born Oswestry, 1875; died Chirk, 23 September 1926
6 caps: (Chirk) v England, Ireland 1900; v Ireland 1901; Scotland 1902; (Shrewsbury T) v England, Ireland 1903
Career: Chirk 1893-1902; Shrewsbury T 1902-07; Chirk 1907-09
An excellent defender and good leader, Bob Morris somewhat surprisingly, never made it beyond the Birmingham and District League but was briefly on Manchester City’s books. A one-time Chirk captain, he was comfortable at left back or centre half and one writer called him “unapproachable”, adding “his defence of the ball was very uncommon”. Morris was strong in the air and was keen to go forward for corners and free kicks - an early exploiter of what is now known as the “set piece”. A careful player, he relied on his well-developed positional sense and was “entirely safe”. Morris, a brother to Jack and Charlie, captained Shrewsbury to a Shropshire Cup success in 1904 before returning to a Chirk club in decline. An official at Brynkinallt colliery, he was later chairman of the Chirk club.
Honours: Shropshire Cup Winner 1903, 1904
OWEN, GEORGE ALFRED
Born Chirk, 1866; died Chirk, 29 January 1922
4 caps: (Chirk) v Scotland 1888; (Newton Heath) v Scotland, Ireland 1889; (Chirk) v Ireland 1893, 2 goals
Career: Chirk 1880-89; Newton Heath 1889-90 12 Football Alliance apps 2 goals;
West Manchester 1890-91; Chirk 1891-93; Druids 1893-95; Chirk 1895-96, retired
George Owen, a pupil teacher in his early youth, was involved in Chirk football from the early days and played alongside T E Thomas, the future mentor of so many international players for Wales. A constructive player with an excellent shot, he was regularly on target for Chirk. Owen had a spell at Newton Heath with the large North Walian contingent and appeared for them in a Manchester Cup final, which featured no fewer than six Welsh caps. He made his debut for Wales in 1888, standing in for his Chirk colleague Billy Owen after being chosen as a reserve. An ever-reliable performer, Owen retired in 1896 to become a referee in local league football.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1887, 1888, 1892; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
Born Chirk, 1866
Half back 5ft 6ins 11 st 10lbs
One cap: (Newton Heath) v Ireland 1892
Career: Chirk 1883-87; Newton Heath October 1887-93 52 Football Alliance apps 2 goals
Jack Owen was a very effective player and “equally good in attack and defence”. A centre half with Chirk, his greatest asset was his consistency but he was famed for the remarkable distances he could achieve from throw-ins. Owen had joined Newton Heath with his brother Billy and remained after Billy had returned to Chirk. Jack gave good service to Newton Heath for several seasons until the club decided to look to Scotland for players and he lost his first team place to one of the new imports.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1887
Born Chirk, 1862; died Chirk, 2 March 1946
16 caps: (Chirk) v England 1884; v Ireland 1885; v England 1887; v England 1888; v England, Scotland, Ireland 1889; v Ireland, Scotland 1890; v Ireland, England, Scotland 1891; v England, Scotland 1892; v Scotland, Ireland 1893, 4 goals.
Career: Chirk 1876-95
The only player to play for Chirk in all their 5 Welsh Cup successes and also the most capped player whilst playing for Chirk gaining a total of 16 caps between 1884 and 1893.
Billy Owen was described in the FAW 1891 player assessment as “a hard-working player, can play in any position, very tricky but rather selfish”. Billy Meredith, his right wing partner in the Chirk team of 1893, later maintained that Owen was “the sort of player who displayed that unselfishness that makes a player shine”. Nevertheless, Owen loved to show off his football skills and in 1886 one writer described him as: “a very clever dribbler but he plays to the gallery and loses too much time crossing the ground going backwards and forwards instead of going for goal”.
Owen was nicknamed ‘the John L Sullivan of inside forwards’, after the last bare-knuckled world heavyweight-boxing champion. He was a stalwart of the Chirk team for many seasons but, surprisingly, never sought to join a senior club, apart from a period on Bolton’s books as an amateur and a brief flirtation with Newton Heath in 1887. Owen retired in 1895 to become a referee in the Welsh League and continued to work as a coal miner in Chirk. His later years were far from secure financially and several benefit matches were arranged for him, some of which featured his old pal and former Chirk colleague Billy Meredith. Owen, a brother to Jack Owen who played for Wales in 1892, had to wait until the age of 72 to receive a Welsh cap. The omission was rectified at the Racecourse, Wrexham in January 1934 when Horace Blew made the presentation.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1887, 1888, 1890, 1892, 1894;
Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
POSTLE, GEORGE OWEN
Born Acrefair, 1867; died Acrefair, 10 February 1940
Career: Druids 1887-91; Chirk 1891-93; Druids 1893-96, retired. (also appeared for Rossendale and Gainsborough Trinity)
1 Cap (Chirk) v Canada 1891 (unofficial International)
George Postle was connected with Welsh football for over 50 years as a player, referee and finally an FAW councilor. There was a certain irony in his later respectability in official soccer circles as he had been a robust player with more than his share of brushes with the FAW. Postle was allegedly the culprit who flattened Arthur Lea in a Charity Cup final, causing a minor riot. Despite offers to join Rossendale, Heywood and Gainsborough Trinity as a professional, Postle remained faithful to Chirk, eschewing one offer of “ten golden sovereigns for each of his knees and a week-day job in a slipper factory”.
He retired in 1896 to become Druids trainer but soon became involved in refereeing and organising junior soccer in Denbighshire. Postle served for many years on the management committees of various leagues and was a parish councilor. His refereeing career saw him progress to the Combination League; he took charge of three Welsh Cup finals and ran the line at international matches. In September 1935, his lengthy service to Welsh football was marked with a testimonial fund.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1892, Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
RICHARDS, RICHARD WILLIAM
Born Chirk, 14 February 1890; died Salford, Lancashire. 29 January 1934
Inside left/winger 5ft 8ins 11st 6lbs
9 caps: (Wolverhampton W) v Scotland, England 1920; v Ireland 1921; v Scotland, England 1922; (West Ham Utd) v Scotland, England, Ireland 1924; (Mold T) v Scotland 1926, 1 goal.
Career: Bronygarth; Chirk; Oswestry Utd; Wolverhampton W 1913-22 (WW1 intervening) 86 league apps 22 goals;
West Ham Utd June 1922-24 43 league apps 5 goals; Fulham 1924-25 21 league apps 2 goals; Mold T September 1925-27; Colwyn Bay Utd July 1927-28. retired.
An eager-beaver type of player who had great on-the-ball ability, Richards created many match winning goals for Wolves and West Ham. Originally an outside left with Wolves, he was converted to the other flank at West Ham and appeared in that position in the 1923 FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers. In 1924, Richards took part in all three Welsh victories over the Home International sides. His time at Fulham was dogged by illness and injury and in 1925 he returned to North Wales for domestic reasons.
He spent one season with Mold Town, the pioneers of the policy of high-spending professionalism in the Welsh National League, before concluding his career at Colwyn Bay. Richards took a job with an electricity company in Cheshire and it was while unloading electric light poles that he suffered the serious back injury from which he died at the age of 42.
The only player from a Mold club to be capped by Wales.
Honours: FACup Finalist 1923
Born Chirk, 1878
2 caps: (Bradford C) v Ireland 1906; v Ireland 1907
Career: Chirk 1895-1901; Crewe A August 1901-04; Bradford C May 1904-09 23 league apps; Huddersfield T June 1909-10
Jimmy Roberts was said to have a “grand physique” and was a difficult player to get past. He “kicked well and with judgement” and tackled crisply. After a long and thorough grounding at Chirk.He moved into a higher class of soccer with first Crewe and then Bradford City.
He was thought by Bradford to be a good acquisition but was signed as a reserve and was not expected to displace either Halliday or Wilson, the regular full backs. He had a spell in the Second Division side in early 1906, which clinched his selection for Wales. Roberts joined Huddersfield in 1909 but his form was beginning to become erratic. He subsequently returned to Bradford and the Park Avenue club, where he was trainer for some years. Roberts was the first Bradford City player to earn international honours, beating Jimmy Conlin of England by one week.
His brother Matthew also played for Chirk, while another, Harry, appeared for Aberdare.
Born Chirk, 15 October 1909. Died Chirk 1995
Outside right 5ft 6ins 10st 6lbs
Wales v England June 1941 and September 1944 (War-Time Internationals)
Career: Chirk; Oswestry T; Wrexham May 1934-35 11 league apps 2 goals; Arsenal January 1935-36 16 league apps 5 goals; Newcastle Utd (£2,500) June 1936-39 56 league apps 11 goals; Swansea T (£700) May-September 1939 3 league apps; (Wrexham 65 war-time apps 27 goals; Swansea T 53 war time apps 18 goals; also guested for Lovell ‘s Athletic and Aberaman); Wrexham 1946-47 1 league app; Oswestry T 1947
A light and quick player, ‘Tim’ was an enthusiastic winger. He left school to become a chauffeur for a local businessman, but also began selling newspapers while playing for Chirk and then Oswestry. In June 1934, he signed for Wrexham as a part-time professional for £4 a week and had some outstanding matches before being transferred to Arsenal for a fee close to £3,000. It was at Arsenal that he was nicknamed ‘Tim’, because some players had difficulty pronouncing his biblical name. A fast little forward, he understudied Joe Hulme at Highbury. One Newcastle scribe described Tim as: “A player with more than a touch of finesse”.
Rogers had played only three matches for Swansea when war broke out and all contracts were cancelled. He joined the RAF and spent three years at St Athan, Cardiff before being posted to Egypt in 1944. Wrexham released him in 1947 at his own request to concentrate on his newsagent’s business. Ehud’s brother Joe played for Manchester City and Shrewsbury Town.
He was part of the coaching team that led Chirk to 3 Welsh Amateur Cup successes in the late fifties/early sixties, and became a popular figurehead around Chirk. He became Chairman of the Chirk A.A.A. club where both his sporting and business knowledge proved invaluable.
Honours: Also capped at amateur level in 1934 against Scotland.
Born Chirk, September 1877; died Chirk, 3 November 1954
Outside left/inside left
5 caps: (Druids) v Scotland, England, Ireland 1901; v England, Ireland 1902
Career: Chirk 1896-1900; Druids 1900-04; Chirk 1904-07
In 1901, one newspaper described Eph Williams as very quick, brilliant at times, a strong runner, tricky with a strong shot and hard working”. A regular goal scorer with Chirk, he spent three seasons with Druids in the Birmingham and District League and at one time was rumoured to be in Manchester City’s sights but it came to nothing. Williams was the son of a coal miner and worked as a collier from the age of 11 until he retired in 1950 -a staggering total of 62 years. A keen bowls player and cricketer; he was umpire in the Wrexham and Denbighshire Cricket League for some years.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1904; Welsh Cup Finalist 1901
Born Chirk, 1862
6 caps: (Chirk) v Scotland 1893; v Scotland 1894; v Scotland, Ireland, England 1895; v Ireland 1898
Career: Black Park; Chirk 1891-1904
George Williams worked as a coal miner at Black Park Colliery and played alongside Edward Morris and Billy Meredith in the pit side. When he first joined Chirk, he was primarily a reserve but by 1893 was firmly established in the right half position.
A durable, hard-working player, he was skilful, persistent and a good long-range shot. Against the Scots in 1894, he was described as “the pick of the half backs”. His last full season with Chirk was 1901-02 but he continued to turn out occasionally until 1904.
Honours: Welsh Cup Winner 1894; Welsh Cup Finalist 1893
Born Chirk, 1876; died Leigh, Lancashire, October 1944
One cap: (Chirk) v Ireland 1903
Career: Chirk 1898-02; Shrewsbury T 1902-06; Chirk April 1906-10
A reserve for the 1903 trial matches, Wynn was on the fringe of the Welsh squad and was fortunate to get his cap. A right-sided forward, he was long on effort and regularly on target without suggesting he was international class. Wynn, like most goal scorers, had his barren spells and was criticised for erratic shooting and a “tendency to hang on to the ball for too long”. He gave good service to Shrewsbury and was prominent in their Shropshire Cup success of 1903. Wynn, who also sometimes played at halfback for both Chirk and Shrewsbury, worked as a coal miner.