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Keepers' Tributes

PUBLISHED

11:06 24th January 2014

Hailing "the greatest ever"

 

Wolves’ supporters will get the opportunity to pay tribute to one of their finest at Molineux tomorrow with a minute’s applause for the great Bert Williams.

And more of the club’s former goalkeepers have been queuing up to pay tribute to the man who will always be remembered as ‘The Cat’.

The man charged with taking on the difficult mantle of following the legendary Williams in the Wolves goal was Malcolm Finlayson.

It was a role the Scot took on with great aplomb, but to him – there was never any doubt he was following “the greatest goalkeeper in the club’s history.”

“Bert was a gymnast and that showed because his greatest ability was his agility – it was a great attribute,” said Finlayson.

“When I was 18, I saw him play for England against the Italians at White Hart Lane. He played out of his skin that day and has been remembered for that game ever since.

“He played against the foreign teams in the famous floodlit friendlies and was equal to whatever challenge came his way.

“I was a different kind of keeper to Bert but I admired him greatly.

“And the other thing about him was that he was such a nice fellow off the pitch. Some players aren’t really amenable with spectators but Bert always was.

“It’s been quite a while now since he finished playing but he is going to be sadly missed. 

“Bert was the greatest goalkeeper in the club’s history.”

Two goalkeepers who followed in both Williams’ and Finlayson’s footsteps in the Wolves goal were Fred Davies and Phil Parkes.

“Without Bert I would never have had a career – he taught me so much it was amazing,” said Davies.

“He was a unique, a one-off – you don’t come across people like that very often in your life.

“It’s very sad – I shall miss him terribly.”

Parkes added:  “Bert was one of the greats – up there with Billy Wright – and probably the best goalkeeper to have played for Wolves.

“You don’t get to win as many England caps as he did without being special.

“I got to know him through the Wolves’ Former Players’ Association in his later years and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer man.”

Williams made 420 appearances in Wolves’ colours, which was a record for a goalkeeper until surpassed by Mike Stowell in 1999.

The current record-holder admits it was a massive honour.

“So much has been said about Bert this week and all of it fully deserved,” says Stowell.

“No praise could be heaped high enough.

“The word legend was made for people like Bert - he was a true great in every sense of the word.

“Bert was humble, friendly and kind and his love of Wolves wasn’t just about from his playing days despite all that he achieved – he was fully up to date with modern day Wolves too.

“I feel proud that I am the only man to have played more times in goal than Bert, and I feel proud to stand in his shadow.

“His games were played at the highest level – he was a true great.”

 Even more recently Matt Murray became a friend of Williams and received a regular supply of good wishes and support before his own retirement. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW STORY)

Wayne Hennessey also met ‘The Cat’ on many occasions, and indeed all three of Wolves’ current senior keepers are well aware of the illustrious footsteps in which they follow.

“It was sad news to hear that Bert had passed away on Sunday,” said Hennessey.

“I met him a few times and he was such a nice bloke and a true gentleman.

“Me and Matty went to see him a few times and it was an honour for me when I was invited along to his book launch.

“Whenever he met me he always knew how I was getting on and he would talk to me about how things were going.

“He kept a close eye on all of us goalkeepers and I think had a great knowledge of football even a long time after he’d finished playing.

“It was such a pleasure to know him.

“He was obviously a great goalkeeper as well and the honours he won with Wolves and number of England caps prove that.

“Not many people get to play in goal for England especially at a World Cup and that tells you how good he was.

“He was a legend around here and I am sure the fans will give him a great send-off tomorrow.”

Carl Ikeme added:  “I remember meeting Bert with the other keepers when we all came to an event.

“It was a real privilege to meet him and he was such a nice fellow who asked how I was getting on.

“His record as a player shows just how good he was and I am sure he is going to be sadly missed.”

Aaron McCarey added:  “I didn’t know Bert Williams but I have read about him and heard so much from the other lads who had met him.

“It is clear he was a Wolves legend and I am sure he will always be remembered by both Wolves fans and football fans in general.”

 

*CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF TOMORROW’S PRE-MATCH TRIBUTE

 

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