Ex-Lilywhites’ player Bill Cherry dies aged 88

MOSSLEY have been saddened to hear of the death of Bill Cherry who was one of the club’s longest-surviving players.

Bill, who was aged 88, was a wing half who made 86 appearances for the Lilywhites between 1954-56, scoring three goals.

Based in Lytham St Annes, Mossley remained close to his heart and in 2004 he went to watch them play at Squires Gate where he introduced himself to some fans, including club historian John Cawthorne.

John recalled: “I was approached by a stranger who asked if I and my travelling companions happened to be from Mossley.

“As Mossley AFC historian, I quickly became inquisitive as he announced that he used to play for Mossley. I asked him his name, Cherry he replied.

“Bill, I said quickly. He looked at me with a puzzled expression as I explained how I knew his first name. He then proceeded to show my friends and I two team photographs taken during his time at Mossley.

Bill Cherry

“I had too many questions to ask as we ran through the names on the photos. I had read and written about them all. I was naturally delighted when he agreed to loan them to me.

“It was mentioned we still had to play Squires Gate at home, he said that he would love to visit Mossley again and would see if he could arrange to come across from his home in Lytham St Annes.

“I returned the photos along with a covering letter and statistical details of his playing spell at Mossley. Within a few days Bill contacted me by phone to say that he was coming over to the game.

“He found me again almost upon his arrival, his first visit to Seel Park since 1956. He brought with him his scrapbook which he kindly loaned to me, and the trophy that he won with Mossley, the 1956 Ashton Challenge Cup when he played right half as Mossley beat Stalybridge Celtic 3-1 in the final of what was at that time a highly prestigious competition, at Hurst Cross, in front of an attendance of 2,400. Goals from Jackie Ward, Ron Parkes and Ron Garland won the game.

“Bill really enjoyed his trip down memory lane and donated his trophy to the club, though he was disappointed that none of the people he knew back then in the mid-1950s were still around Seel Park.

Bill was raised in the North East where he played inside right for West Wylham Juniors and senior football for Throckley Miners Welfare where he also worked as an assistant groundsman after leaving school.

He was recommended to Cardiff City and played for their reserves in the Football Combination against Coventry City reserves just before his 16th birthday.

When not catching the reserves Bill played regularly for City’s nursery club Cardiff Nomads, who, despite being made up entirely of teenagers ran away with the Cardiff Combination League and won the Welsh Youth Cup.

Bill signed a one-year professional contract for Cardiff in 1950 but did not make the first team and moved to Heywood where he was signed by Bury for the 1952-53 season. He appeared regularly for the reserves and A team but, before the season was over, he moved to Northwich Victoria in the Cheshire League.

Bill was signed by Mossley manager Jack Boothway early in the 1954-55 season. Ironically, Bill made his Mossley debut against his former club and scored both Mossley goals as Northwich won 4-2 at Seel Park.

Boothway had the bright idea of switching Bill to right half and it paid dividends, as, not only did he relish in the move, he strengthened Mossley’s half back line considerably.

His second season at Mossley saw the club struggling off the field, so much so, there was much speculation that the club may fold. They allowed manager Boothway to join Northwich Victoria and they had the 1955-56 season with physio Jock Anderson taking training and the team selected by the management committee.

That team won the Ashton Cup despite the fear of disbandment and Bill left following the win and joined Manchester League side Radcliffe Borough and finished his playing career in Sunday football with Heywood Casuals.

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