The Brownhills Bomber

A real Brownhills hero from the days of baggy shorts and the scent of liniment. Image from Sue Lote.

I was recently contacted by reader Richard Lee, who gently suggested that I was missing something with my local history coverage. Richard was quite right, I have left untouched a quite large piece of Brownhills history – the fact the we had a major-league football star in our midst.

Dickie Dorset played for Wolves and Villa and was a real footballing hero, signing to Wolves in 1937, and after the football break during World Warr II, during which Dickie served in the RAF, he signed to Aston Villa for the princely sum of £3,000. He was a well respected player, and by all accounts a solid good sport with a great deal of skill and integrity. After a car accident in 1950, he briefly returned to mainstream football, but retired to become a coach in 1953. After a spell at Liverpool, Dickie returned to Brownhills around 1962 and ran Brownhills Boy’s Cub. Dickie sadly passed away in 1999.

Much is written about Dickie Dorsett online, but it’s Sue Lote’s work that most interests me. Sue states that Dickie actually came from a family with a strong footballing pedigree, and has some really interesting bits an pieces on her page dedicated to the man who became known as ‘The Brownhills Bomber’.

I’m interested in why there seems to be no memorial to Dickie in Brownhills that I’m aware of – no streets named after him, and I’m similarly unaware of any memorials or dedications to him. Surely that’s a bit of a municipal oversight?

As readers can probably tell, football is a long way from my natural constituency, but I’d be interested in anything anyone would like to contribute about Dickie, or any other local sporting heroes. We’ve mentioned Walsall Wood Football Club before, and it would be nice to hear about Dickie’s life and folks’ recollections and legends. Brownhills has had various football and cricket teams over the years so there must be loads of stuff out there.

What do you know, folks? BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or comment here. Thanks to Richard Lee for the prod.

Sue Lote’s site contains a wealth of information about the Dorsett family. Click on the screenshot to go take a look.

There’s also, of course, the mystery of the Dorsett inscription on the old Warreners Arms Pub, mentioned in my post ‘Persistence of Memory’

Carved into the side of the Warreners Arms, like so many Brownhills Names. Yet Sue Lote’s Dorsett family tree contains no W Dorsett. What do we know, folks?

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Clayhanger stuff, Events, Features, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Local History, Local media, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Wood stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to The Brownhills Bomber

  1. Iris says:

    Samuel,Sampson,Whittaker, of Shelfield,played for Aston Villa,early 1900`s,best season 1911-1912,and who, according to Aston Villa achives officer/historian, had a knack of keeping his shorts clean on the muddiest of pitches.
    Bob,you might recall locating a grave for a miner killed in the Grove pit disaster,well, I am pretty sure this Samuel was one of his brothers.

  2. Rob says:

    Used to have a game of dominoes with Dickie in the Hussey, when it was a pub.

    He lived on the estate of the same name.

  3. david oakley says:

    Dickie Dorsett lived in Walsall Wood during the war years and for sometime afterwards at 150 Salters Road. He left his Brownhills home on marriage to a Griffiths girl who lived opposite us and lived for some years with his in-laws, having a young son, also named Richie. He joined the RAF in the war and “guested” for Southampton FC as professional players were allowed to do when stationed nearby, After the war, while still with Wolves, on home match days, he would leave the house about noon, carrying a tiny case, catch a bus to Walsall, then a trolley-bus to Wolverhampton, and return home the same way,later in the evening. He still lived in Salters Road after being signed for Villa. A relative, a George Dorsett, lived a few doors doors away in Salters Road,perhaps a little older than Dickie, but rumoured to be quite a good player in his time.
    Things are so very different nowadays, but this was seventy years ago. Dickie never had a car and the most a retired player could hope for, was a pub to run when his playing days were over.

  4. Julie Le-Moine says:

    Was George Dorsett married to a lady called Irene?….Just wondering if anyone can knows……..

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    Can’t find Samuel Samson Whittaker in census, but

    1911 Census has Samson Clement Whittaker, 24, professional footballer, at Green Lane, Shelfield, with wife Harriett Ellen, 24, and daughter Florence Hannah, 3 months.

    1901 Samson, 14, coal miner, with family (including brother John, 15, coal miner) at Mob Lane, Walsall Wood (parish of St John), all born Heath End.

    More at Aston Villa website – Villa won the championship in 1909-10, but “Sammy” didn’t play in the first tema that season.

    • Iris says:

      I have a photograph of Samson,in the kit,(looks hand knitted)sent to me by Terry,grandson of John
      .I also have a picture of Pelsall cricket club,not sure of the date,group of 15 men,one of whom is Arthur ,son of John,father of Terry.but no names for the others.It looks a bit “formal”so there may be more than one of these about.
      I used the link,and was surprised with the amount of info.on there,
      I knew the family were methodists ,as I have some books given as sunday school prizes,to various members of the family,but didn`t know they also played football for them!.

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    A George Dorsett married an Irene Jackson in 1972, registered Aldridge.

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  8. Pedro says:

    David says, “Dickie never had a car”, but he was involved in an accident…

    Dick Dorsett, Aston Villa’s left back, who was going from Middlesbrough where he had played in a 3rd Round cup-tie, to his home in Brownhills because of illness of his baby daughter, was injured in a road accident earlier today at Worksop.

    It was stated that he had cuts and an injured shoulder. His 3 month old daughter was taken to hospital yesterday with double pneumonia.

    The car in which he was travelling was in collision with a stationary lorry at 2 am. The driver, a Saltburn man, and Dorsett, we’re both taken to hospital and released after treatment.

    Hull Daily Mail 12 Jan 1950

    • david oakley says:

      Hi Pedro,
      Perhaps I should have made myself a little clearer when speaking of
      Dickie Dorsett as having no car, this was in the late 1930’s and up to 1946 when Dickie was living with his in-laws in Salters Road and playing for Wolves.
      Not many people had cars in those days least of all married footballers whose weekly wage was £12 in winter and £8 in summer. “Soccer slaves” as Jimmy Hill used to call them. Dicky would depart on match days with his little case, and catch a bus from Walsall Wood to Walsall, then the trolley bus from Walsall to
      Wolverhampton and return home the same way. The economic changes after the war made the car more readily accessible and by 1950 Dickie would no doubt be in possession of one.

  9. Scott says:

    Dickie Dorsett is my Grandad, You will see pics online of his boots which I took, nothing like holding the real items. My Nan is still extremely fit and has some lovely memories of Grandad. I used to sit in the kitchen with him by the old paraffin heater. I was always amazed at the stories told in the kitchen. Especially shaking hands with the King when receiving his FA cup medal. Again this is something else to hold and stare into it, Just cant believe my Grandad was awarded this. Grandad would be waiting in his chair for his brains on toast talking about his footballing days and what it was like for him when he was a child. Grandad never used to watch football on TV he said it was always ruined by greed and money and that the real talent was in his day.

    He did lots for me and my brother when we were playing for our local district teams, even though he never came to watch due to his ill health his guidance in the game was special.

    I agree that a street should be named after him and would like to find out what the procedure would be to enforce this.

    Its fun to see all the things that come up for sale online and demand huge prices. People talking about Grandad and most is not the truth. He was a real gem and I am fortunate that his memories that I have are priceless.

    • nialldorsett says:

      My Great Grandfather – Played for West Brom then Manchester was George Dorsett who was Dickie’s uncle. We must be related – Niall Dorsett

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  11. kathy bull [nee cooper] says:

    hi my name is kathleen cooper [bull]grew up in the avenues my grandparents were nell and gerald cooper they bought me up my granma was dickie dorsett sister i have a small photo that they gave to me i have allways been very interested in my uncle dickie but sadly never met him also my uncle george dorsett was granmas brother he was a lovely man ,i live in cornwall now since 1981 but we visit the midlands to see family my brother tim was good at football and i see where he got it from know ,if uncle dickies wife is still alive i would love to meet her ,thanks for listening and any news would be good .

    • Sue Lote says:

      Hello Kathleen,
      Then your gran Nell was also the sister of my gran Kate! Would love to hear from you.
      Sue Lote

      • Hi Sue

        I’ll you’re OK with it I’ll send Kathy your email address, no problem.

        I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for your wonderful site, Sue. It’s been a great resourse over the years and I pay tribute to your hard work in creating it.

        If there’s anything we can do to help you here, please don’t hesitate to contact me

        BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com


        • Sue Lote says:

          Much appreciated, Bob – it would be great if you could put me in touch with Kathy. I like adding twigs to my ever growing tree branches. I’m pleased my web site has proved useful, afraid I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I used to though, plus I have changed computers a couple of times and lost the program I originally used to create it! I keep promising myself to update it to my current isp – again something I’ve left simmering on the back burner!!
          I really enjoy your web site also, and was just pondering the signatures on the Warrener’s bricks – I am minded to think that the one signed W DORSETT is possibly that of William HAYWARD/DORSETT! My great grandparents Isaiah DORSETT and Nellie nee HAYWARD ‘forgot’ to get married until after the birth of their 6th child!!! I know – don’t ask! Their first 2 children, my grandmother Kate and then William, were given the surname HAYWARD, subsequent children were given the surname DORSETT, even those who were born out of wedlock. But it is possible that William HAYWARD may have also used the surname DORSETT, or adopted it in later life! Just a thought.

          Sue Lote nee DERRY

      • kathy bull says:

        hi sue how nice to hear from you ,yes my nan nellie cooper and kate derry were sisters i was actually named after my aunt kate ,when i was younger well to be precise i have a photo of her at my first wedding in 1969 young and head strong ,she was a lovely lady i remember her living in first avenue and we lived in second avenue ,do you mind me asking who your dad and mom are ,i love it when i hear from family members i doidnt know about i have been trying to find some one well anyone who remembers a place in brownhills called st james square or the old slang name of [metts] it would be just down from the old claridges electric shop but i carnt find a photo or anything any where i was born there you see my dad was george kelly my mom elsie died aged 22 [tb] and at the age of 5 i was legally adopted by my nan/grandad cooper i hope we can keep in touch take care .

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  17. David pugh says:

    Hi Sue. My mothers father was George dorsett. She was called Gladys Pugh.We must be related. Dave Pugh.

    • Sue Lote says:

      Hello David,
      Can you give me further details of George and Gladys? There are a number of George DORSETTs in my database, but I can only find one marrying a Gladys – but her surname appears to be RUSHWORTH? This George DORSETT was the brother of my great grandfather Isaiah DORSETT.


      • David Oakley says:

        Hi Sue,
        No relation to the Dorsett’s other than cousin-in -law to Ted Dorsett, tragically killed at Walsall Wood Colliery. I still have some experience of members of the family who lived in Salters Road, Walsall Wood in the 1930’s. Dicky Dorsett, the noted footballer married a daughter from the Griffiths family, thlnk she was called Lenny, in the 1930’s. and they lived in Salters Road until well into the 1940’s, having a son called Richie. George Dorsett lived a bit lower down, a few years older than Dicky, his wife was named Gladys, but we took the name to be Rushforth, as members of the Rushforth family, lived in Salters Road, This George Dorsett had a son, also called George. born in 1937, and a daughter Glenda, born a little later. Hoping this little peep into the Dorsett history is of some help.

        • Sue Lote says:

          Yes I know about the Salters Road link – my dad used to holiday with relatives there (I think it was probably with his uncle George) Dad only lived in Brownhills!!

    • Sue Lote says:

      Hi David,
      Dickie ‘Richard’ DOSSETT (DORSETT) was my dad’s uncle, ie Dickie was my paternal grandmother’s brother. But he was not the only footballing DORSETT – they seemed to have produced a fair sprinkling of athletic chaps – even down the SEAGER line. Ruth Diana SEAGER married Thomas DORSETT. So I have often thought the DORSETT sporting genes actua;;y come down through the SEAGER line.
      I will dig out my family tree stuff and get back to you with more info, but there is a small amount on my web site. Bob has kindly put links to the site on here.

  18. Sue Lote says:

    Got it Dave – I’ve got you in my database your mother being Gladys DORSETT? I see your grand parents were the ‘footballer who went north’ aka George DORSETT 1881-1942 son of Thomas DORSETT and Ruth Diana SEAGER (also my 2 x gt. grand parents). George’s wife being Clara WOODHOUSE 1886-1942 daughter of William WOODHOUSE and Fanny.

    William WOODHOUSE was joiner/carpenter and I believe also the local undertaker. My dad seemed to remember they, or a later branch of this family ran their undertaking business from the premises where the old Natwest Bank stands in the High Street, Brownhills. This makes sense as the DORSETT clan lived next door in the old row of houses that stood where Specsavers to Wilko now stand!

    Close by was some open ground where I believe foot races etc were often held – not many people in Brownhills realise today that before his glory on the football field, George was a well known foot runner and regularly beat those brought in to run against him. His brothers evidently made a good sum backing him to win in these races!

    Please get in touch if you require any further info.


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  20. David pugh says:

    Thank you for that information. My mother was a life long Manchester City supporter and took all her grandchildren to the home matches. She had a beautiful diamond ring bought with the money from George’s benefit match which I think my sister still owns.

    • David pugh says:

      Hi sue. I live in kineton and seem to remember in one of your posts that a member of your family was buried in kineton parish church or am I imagining that. Cheers dave

  21. Sue Lote says:

    Hi Dave,
    One of my paternal gt. grandmothers was Nellie HAYWARD (mother of Dickie DORSETT – the Brownhills Bomber), she was also the mother of my paternal grandmother, Kate.
    Nellie’s father – William HAYWARD was born in Kineton in 1848, baptised at St Peter in December 1848 .

    Sue Lote

  22. David pugh says:

    Thank you for that information. I have looked through the buriel records of kineton parish church but was unable to find a William Hayward . It is strange that one of our relations lived in kineton as until recently I have no connection with the area.

    • Sue Lote says:

      Hi David

      The HAYWARD/CARTER clan came from various parishes in Warwickshire
      William HAYWARD was born in Kineton, but died in Ogley Hay in 1925!
      He married a distant cousin Catherine CARTER 2 Nov 1872 at St James, Milverton, Warwickshire.
      William HAYWARD’S mother was also a CARTER!
      His father was also named William HAYWARD and was born 1823 Butler’s Marston. He died Sept 1900 Ogley Hay, and is buried at St James, Ogley Hay. His mother, Martha nee CARTER died 1899 Ogley Hay.

      As you can see from the following 1871 Census taken at Ogley Hay – they were a rather nomadic lot.
      1871 Census: RG10/2915.
      Folio 57. Schedule 39.
      William’s Row, Ogley Hay, Staffs.
      HAYWOOD William. Head. marr. 47. Miner. Born Butler’s Marton, WAR,
      HAYWOOD Martha. Wife. Marr. 46. Born Balsall Temple, WAR.
      HAYWOOD William. Son. Unm. 23. Miner. Born Kineton, WAR
      HAYWOOD Henry. Son. Unm. 15. Miner. Born Polesworth, WAR
      HAYWOOD Herbert. Son. Unm. 12. Miner. Born Grindon, WAR
      HAYWOOD Frank. Son. 8. Scholar. Born Baddesley Ensor, WAR.
      WORTHDALE Henry. Ldger. Widower. 58. Miner. Born Loughborough, LEI.

      The furthest back I have got with the HAYWARD family is William HAYWARD jnr’s grandfather, Joseph HAYWARD, who according to the 1851 Census was also born at Kineton in c 1800. By the time of the 1851 census, Joseph had moved his family to Butlers Marston.

      Of course, the DORSETT clan hail from Shropshire!


  23. kathy bull says:

    i am so glad my uncle dickie is back in the news again he deserves to be as said befor he was my grandmother Nellie dorsets brother and the picture at the top of this page I have the original my gran had he was a great footballer and I think that’s where our timmy got it from he didn’t pleay proffesionally just in the street but he was good ,my uncle George dorset lived in Walsall wood he was a lovely man they all were anyway thanks again for mentioning my uncle dickie ,ps if none of you don’t no me its Kathy cooper [bull] now I grew up in the avenues xx

  24. David pugh says:

    Hi sue. Maybe you can cast light on a Dorsett mystery. On one of the census( I am afraid I can’t remember which one) my grandfather George has four children, Ralph, Gladys,Molly and Alice. As it shows Alice and Gladys as both being two years old, I am wondering if my mother was a twin. To my knowledge she never made mention of this. Regards Dave.

    • Sue Lote says:

      Hi Dave,
      I only have 3 children listed for George. Looking at the dates of birth of these children I am assuming you are referring to the 1910 census?
      I’ve got:-
      1) Ralph DORSETT born Brownhills 1905-1955.
      2) Gladys DORSETT 1908-1994
      3) Margaret C DORSETT 1911-1993.
      I shall have to do more investigating!!!
      As for Clara WOODHOUSE (George DORSETT’s wife) I have her born 17 Feb 1886 Brownhills, daughter of William WOODHOUSE and Fanny nee MANLEY/MASSEY?
      I have 7 siblings listed for Clara – but no twins, as far as I am aware! Interestingly, I there was a sister named Alice, but she is something of a mystery. I have no date of birth for her, but she apparently married someone with the surname BAILEY? Again, more investigating is required.
      William WOODHOUSE was a joiner and carpenter – I believe he, or one of his family, were the local undertakers – probably because they had the skills needed to make a coffin! From stories my dad told me their undertaking business was established in a dwelling that occupied the space roughly where the Natwest Bank was situated in the High Street, opposite Church Road. Next door , the terrace of houses that once stood where Specsavers to Wilko now stand is where the DORSETT clan lived – so it looks like George wed the girl next door!

  25. David pugh says:

    Thank you. Very interesting, I do vaguely remember my mother mentioning an aunt Alice .

  26. David pugh says:

    Just a further note. I am sure george dorsett lived with his family in levendhulme Manchester, probably when he was playing for Manchester city. Speaking to my cousin graham birch a while ago, he seemed to think that Alice may have died at two years old and that was why she was wrongly entered in the 1910 census. My mother rarely spoke about her famous father and uncle and my sisters and I never saw them although they were still alive when we were born. I wonder if there had been a falling out. Families mother died in 1984 and not 1994 as stated.

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