Brian Bottomer remembered: Local football has lost a great friend

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The 1965 Ogley Hay lineup – Brian Bottomer is second from right, front row. A lovely image kindly supplied by George Martin.

When I reported the news here of the sad passing of Brian Bottomer at the weekend, I had no idea just how popular and well known in local football circles he was – there have been many kind comments on social media and I thank everyone for their kind, sympathetic messages.

As George Martin kindly informed us, the Funeral is on Friday 16th December 2016, at 2.00pm at St. St. Peters Church, Church Hill, Hednesford.

Seeing the awful news, long time contributor and top football commentator Bill Shaw dug out a nugget of gold for those who knew Brian or who may be interested in his history.

Bill explains:

Hiya Bob,

Sad to hear the news about Bottie (Brian Bottomer), one of the stars of the first golden years era at Oak Park, he was involved from 1954 – 1960, great times to be here.

In the early noughties I did a spot in the programme called, “Where are they now?”, and Brian was one of my first volunteers, his career made very interesting reading – copy attached.

After the first 50’s and 60’s players re-union in 2002 Brian came down the Wood more often and was my room-mate on the 2012-2013 trip to Guernsey for the FA Vase replay.

Incidentally, the food for the re-union evening was financed by the late Percy Claridge and his mate John Sylvester, father of course of Mark and Ian at Excel. Small world isn’t it?

Goodbye, God Bless Bottie, thanks for the memories.

Regards,

Bill Shaw.

I include Bill’s scan below, which I’ve transcribed. Thanks to Bill for a remarkable contribution on the subject of a very interesting man who will be sadly missed.

My, and all the readers condolences are extended to Brian Bottomer’s family and friends.

If you knew Brian or remember the team, please do feel free to get in touch: either comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

brian-bottomer

Bill has been writing about the Woodmen much longer than I’ve been writing about Walsall Wood! Click for a larger version.

Where are they now?
Brian Bottomer 1954 -1960

Brian was born in Walsall and joined the R.A.F. as a five year regular in 1952 when he was 17 years old. Whilst in the R.A.F. he played with Jackie Mudie of Blackpool and Scotland fame. During his time in the R.A.F. he met up with P.T.I. Williamson who was also a scout for both Shrewsbury Town (who, under the managership of Arthur Turner had just been elected to the old Third Division North) and Walsall Wood. Brian together with four others had trials for Town. Although Brian played four times for the reserves he didn’t quite make it, so he signed for Walsall Wood.

As Brian arrived at Oak Park so Ray Boot departed to Burton Albion. This was the time that manager Alan Wakeman arrived at Oak Park and over the next few seasons Walsall Wood became a force in local football. They finished runners up in the Midland Combination of 1956 -57 to Wolves, having gone to a newly opened Castlecroft to beat Wolves 3-1, (Brian scored twice) to keep alive their championship hopes.   Wolves fielded a team that included Eddie Stuart, Ron Flowers (a member of England’s 1966 World Cup Squad) Barry Stobart and others who had first team experience to go to Gornal and win 1-0 to beat Wood by a point, making it a clean sweep of every league that a Wolves team played in that season. Wood also won the Walsall Senior Cup and were beaten finalists on another occasion. Brian incidentally holds the record for the number of appearances in the final, having played twice each for Wood and Rushall Olympic and once been the referee.

This was of course a great time in the Wood history. In Season 1957-58 Wood played West Auckland here at Oak Park in the F.A. Amateur Cup and in front of a crowd of 3,600 lost 3-1. Brian says, “We were all frightened to death and just froze in the first half and were down 3-0. We played better in the second half but by then it was too late.” West Auckland were that much of an amateur side they could afford to fly their left winger back from his National Service base in Germany. After beating the Wood they went all the way, winning the Amateur Cup final at Wembley. The next season saw Wood reach the second round, their reward was an away match at Willington, near Doncaster. Despite having the better chances Wood lost 1-0 to a freak own goal just after half time.

Brian played for a Middle East R.A.F. side against a Middle East Army side twice at Moaschar in Egypt and played against a Cyprus eleven at the Olympic Stadium in Nicosia. During this time Brian kept out a Scottish International called Brown. On his return to England he was stationed at Fradley together with Frank Upton who played for Chelsea and they played in the station side together.

In 1960 Alan Wakeman left to manage Stratford Town and most of the team went with him. For Brian who had only just married Jean the journey to Stratford for home games was too much, he was never home before 9.00pm. So for one season he played in the Wolverhampton Works League for his works team Aluminium Bronze. He then went to Rushall Olympic and played for seven seasons. During this time he became a fireman and was in the job for 28 years before retiring in 1988.

He represented the Midland Region as captain for 5-6 years. He was vice captain of the Fire Service national side and played three times. His last International match was against Scotland at the Meadowbank Stadium just before the 1970 Commonwealth Games. Brian continued playing until he was 40 and then a chance encounter with referee Arthur Holland (the only man to referee 3 Wembley finals: European Cup, F.A. Cup and F.A. Amateur Cup) he took up the whistle and had 8 enjoyable years before calling it a day in 1982.

Brian had a 4 way heart bypass operation in October 2000 and is now slowly getting back to normal. He’s here today with his wife Jean so pop and say hello.

Bill Shaw

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