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15 September 2013

Black Country Bugle article on Ernie Wilson...

THE Black Country Bugle has recently published an article on one of the unsung heroes of The Saddlers’ history, long-serving secretary, Ernie Wilson.

Here is their story...

A DEDICATED fan of The Saddlers has been in touch regarding his favourite club, and though he would like to remain anonymous, he is very keen that one of the club’s greatest servants is given the recognition he deserves.

Our correspondent writes:

"Your recent articles on Walsall Football Club have been most interesting, but whenever I read anything about the club no mention is ever made of probably its longest serving full-time employee.

"I refer, of course, to Ernie Wilson the company secretary, who, apart from war-time service, worked for the club for his entire working life. Ernie joined the club well before the Second World War and remained with them until his death, which I think was in 1971.

“In 1959 as a 16 year-old, I became an articled clerk with a firm of local accountants who were the auditors of the club. One of my first audits was Walsall Football Club Ltd. This was in the days when Ernie Thomas and Sir Alfred Owen were directors of the club.

“I worked on the audit each year until 1966. Under the chairmanship of Bill Harrison I also worked in the office on Saturdays until 1972.

“Ernie Wilson was always happy to reminisce on such things as times when there was not enough money on Fridays to pay the players’ wages and they had to wait until after the Saturday game to use the gate receipts to settle up.

“Tales of taking the gate receipts to the police station where they were locked in a cell until Monday morning when the banks were open. Bearing in mind that in those days the takings would be virtually all in cash.

“But I think my favourite story was about one Christmas when Bert Williams forgot there were no buses. Bert ran from Bilston to Fellows Park, played in the game and then walked home.

“My favourite audit story was about one shareholder, who regularly attended AGMs and always advised my boss when he was going to ask a question about the accounts. One year, in the days of Walsall being in the doldrums of the third division (south), he telephoned to say he was going to ask why the value of the team did not appear on the club’s balance sheet.

"My boss asked him on which side of the balance sheet should they be! The question was never asked.

“I hope this little insight is of interest and that someone can produce more details of Ernie’s career.”

The Black Country Bugle has included some superb articles on the history of Walsall FC and many more are in the pipeline. It is well worth a read and is available from all good newsagents.

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