Campaign to give St Albans celebrity footballer a headstone for unmarked grave

Billy Minter with the England Amateur International team.

Billy Minter with the England Amateur International team. - Credit: Archant

A campaign has been launched to give a record breaking St Albans City goal-scorer a headstone over his unmarked grave.

Local celebrity sportsman Wilfred Minter, known as Billy, played with the Hatfield Road Old Boys before moving over to St Albans City FC.

He played his first match with the team against Bromley in Clarence Park as part of the 1921 Athenian League – it was an atypical game because he did not score a goal.

By the time he had played 263 matches with the club he had scored 300 times, and by the end of his football career at St Albans, the striker had scored 356 goals in 362 games.

The club flourished with his help, winning the Athenian League twice, the Isthmian League three times, and reaching the semi-final of the Amateur Cup.

He remains as the top goal scorer in Hertfordshire County XI, with 57 goals in 37 games, and Billy did not ease up for friendlies, racking up 72 goals in 67 for-fun matches.

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

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St Albans City FC historian, David Tavener, says this is the record highest score by an individual on the losing side of an FA Cup tie.

David and another historian, Peter Taylor, have set up a fundraising page to try and secure £2,700 to buy a gravestone for Billy, who was buried in 1984 at 86 years old in London Road cemetery.

They are also trying to trace the owner of the land, Bryan Chapman, in order to ask his permission for the memorial - he bought the plot just 10 days after Billy’s death.

As he was born in 1929, it is unclear if Bryan is still alive and the land may have transferred to the two people who used to live with him in Welwyn Garden City, William and Cathie Chapman.

David described Billy as a legend: “He’s a well-known figure in football circles and it will bring all the people in his life and in the city somewhere to go and see him, if you like to do that sort of thing.”

He said the project was righting a wrong.

Fan Matt Newby echoed David: “I’m proud to contribute to the memory of a man who brought so much to this club. We still get a lot of reference in the media to his FA Cup record.”

Billy was born and died in St Albans, working at his father’s shop before taking over the family business.

A TalkSport presenter, Adrian Durham, has pledged money towards the project, which currently has raised about £850.

To donate, click here.