Memorial campaign for St Albans’ greatest goalscorer moves closer to fruition

PUBLISHED: 21:00 14 September 2017

Billy Minter with the England Amateur International team.

Billy Minter with the England Amateur International team.

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Campaigners have been given the green light to honour a record-breaking footballer currently buried in an unmarked grave.

Minter in the front row with the Hatfield Road Old Boys team, with a ball between his legs - a pose he often took when seen in photos of St Albans City FC during the 1920s.Minter in the front row with the Hatfield Road Old Boys team, with a ball between his legs - a pose he often took when seen in photos of St Albans City FC during the 1920s.

Members of St Albans Football Club (SAFC) have been raising money for a headstone commemorating Wilfred ‘Billy’ Minter - the local celebrity smashed records by scoring 356 goals in 362 games and is still the top goal scorer in Hertfordshire County XI.

But his impressive record did not always ensure wins for the St Albans side, with an infamous 8-7 loss for the 1922 FA Cup match against Dulwich Hamlet, where Wilfred scored all of the seven goals.

In 1923 he was invited to play on the England squad in Sweden, but declined.

When the football legend was laid to rest in 1984, at 86 years old, it was in an unmarked London Road cemetery.

Billy Minter at Clarence Park during the 1922-23 season when St Albans City were members of the Athenian League. 
Billy Minter at Clarence Park during the 1922-23 season when St Albans City were members of the Athenian League.

SAFC historians, David Tavener and Peter Taylor, have set up a fundraising page to try and “right this wrong” - they need £2,700 in total to complete the project.

They also needed permission from the grave owner - whose contact details no longer existed.

Attempts to track down the owner, Wilfred’s nephew Bryan Chapman, were complicated - he no longer lived at the Welwyn address named in Wilfred’s will, and appeals for information lead nowhere.

David and Peter asked for information by door knocking, on the SAFC website, in the Herts Ad and our sister paper the Welwyn and Hatfield Times, and in an interview on the radio. They eventually found an untraceable post from Bryan’s son Bill on a forum, but received no reply - until now.

Bill only recently contacted the historians, supplying the documentation needed for a headstone permit.

David said: “I was surprised because we had lots of other leads, but they were all blocked and every time we thought we would have success we were kicked back.

“So we are mightily relieved - lots of people had donated money already and we didn’t want to let them down.”

He said he could not understand why the gravestone was not erected in the first place for such a notable person.

“This isn’t just giving publicity to the football club, it’s giving pride back to St Albans city for someone who has done so much.”

The headstone will list Wilfred’s achievements and display a picture of him. To donate to the headstone, click here.

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