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FREDDIE WILLCOX

Freddie Willcox, one of Chester’s oldest surviving players, was a guest of the club at the recent home game against Barnet. The 84 year old former full-back played 16 league games for Chester in the 1947/48 season and was also a member of the team that reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.

Born in St Helens Freddie represented a strong Liverpool Schools side in the 1930s that remained unbeaten in 30 games. After playing for St Pauls Boys Club in Derby Lane he joined Everton as an amateur just before the war. The hostilities put a hold on his footballing activities and while serving in the army he took part in the D Day landings and also fought in the Middle East. After the war he rejoined Everton but with international players like Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer in the side it proved difficult for him to break through into the first team.

At the start of the 1947/48 season Freddie played for Chester in a pre-season trial match and he recalls manager Frank Brown coming round to his house at midnight to persuade him to sign for the club. He made his debut in a 2-2 draw at Rochdale in October but his best memories are of the FA Cup run which saw Chester secure an impressive 1-0 win at Crystal Palace before being beaten 4-0 by a Blackpool team, containing Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen, that went on to reach the FA Cup Final. Chester took 6,000 supporters to Lancashire for the Fourth round game with many travelling on a specially arranged train. Freddie remembers that the pitch at Bloomfield Road was very icy and that the players had difficulty with their studs on the frozen surface. Certainly the conditions played a part in the first Blackpool goal in the eighth minute when a long clearance from Eddie Shimwell from beyond the half way line bounced on the hard ground in front of keeper George Scales and into the net. Freddie has good reason to recall that goal as he raced back in an attempt to save the situation and collided with the upright. He says that he received mild concussion as a result of the incident and couldn’t remember much about the rest of the game.

Towards the end of the season Freddie fractured his tibia and fibia in a tackle; an injury that eventually brought a premature end to his footballing career. In the 1948/49 season he played for the Reserves in the Cheshire County League side and represented the league against their counterparts from the Southern League on his birthday. After leaving Sealand Road Freddie played for South Liverpool and captained them against Chester in a Welsh Cup tie in 1949/50. When he retired from the game Freddie worked at Ford’s in Halewood for 23 years residing in Liverpool where he still lives today.

Freddie thoroughly enjoyed his day at the Saunders Honda Stadium and was delighted to meet the chairman, manager and players as well as Jim Tanner and Betty Challinor, two supporters who travelled to Blackpool for the FA Cup game.


Freddie (second from left) meets Frank Brown and the directors with fellow new signings Tommy Best and William Young

Chas Sumner [2/4/07]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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