Tributes paid to former St Albans City and Hatfield Town footballer and De Havilland worker Fred Collings
- Credit: Archant
Tributes have been paid to Fred Collings, one of St Albans City’s “great players and captains from the post-war years”, who has died at the age of 95.
Born in Aldershot, Fred moved to Hatfield with his family when he was nine-years-old and first played for Saints during World War Two, making his debut on May 8, 1943 at the age of 18.
Collings worked for De Havilland in Hatfield and first exhibited his footballing prowess when playing at right-back for the St Audrey’s school team.
Before gracing Clarence Park for he played for St Audrey’s Old Boys in the Mid Herts League and the De Havilland works team.
He made 31 wartime appearances for the City before being called up in the latter part of 1944 and rejoined the Saints in 1947 after being demobbed.
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His first peace time game was a 2-0 Isthmian League win over Clapton at Clarence Park in November and he would go on to make 367 appearances, scoring 38 goals.
A tall, dominant player he cut an imposing figure and was appointed captain for the first time at the start of the 1953-1954 season, lifting his first trophy as skipper in 1955 with the capture of the Herts Senior Cup.
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His final games came in 1958 before joining Hatfield Town and he enjoyed a testimonial game in 1959 between City and Hatfield.
The then club historian, Derek Christmas said: “Fred was a great character, full of fun. He was the finest dead ball kicker that City ever had.”
Former City player, manager and chairman, Bob Murphy, has many happy memories and recalls the impression that the City right-back made on an eight-year-old supporter.
He said: “I remember meeting Fred and Ron McCormack after a game against Dulwich Hamlet in August 1954. To an eight-year-old he was a colossus and my favourite City player.
“I also had the pleasure in meeting him when I started work at De Havilland.”
Another former City player, Mick Pestle, revives a time when he and Fred played for De Havilland.
He said: “He played for the machine shop in the inter-departmental tournament. Fred took a free kick which hit the underside of the bar, it went up and hit it again and still didn’t cross the line – it was the only time that I have ever seen a shot hit the bar twice.”
Life-long City supporter Barry Hilliard, whose father Len played eight times for City before the Second World War, also paid tribute to the former City captain.
“The first game I was taken to by my Dad was against Barking on February 5, 1955 and Fred played in that game,” he said.
“I saw him play many times during the late 50s, I remember he had very dark hair, slicked back and quite a lot of it.
“He was a tough, no nonsense right back who took no prisoners. He always wore number two and took the penalties for us.
“More often than not the ball and the goalkeeper finished in the back of the net.”
His wife Gwendoline, whom he married at St Ethelreda’s Church in 1950, died in 2005. They had two children, Robert and Greg.
For a full obituary go to https://saintsstatistics.co.uk/index.php/articles/players-of-note/341-fred-collings-1925-2020