Everyone involved with the blog has been saddened and dismayed by the loss of Bill Shaw, Clayhanger lad, champion of local football, commentator and all round decent bloke – and I’m proud and honoured to feature here an obituary for Bill from his fellow match reporter at Walsall Wood, David Evans.
Bill sadly passed away following serious illness on 4th March as reported here previously, and the tributes to this wonderful man have been copious and wide ranging. All our hearts go out toBill’s wife Lynn, his family and all at the local football clubs he so diligently supported.
David has written a lovely article about Bill which will strike a chord with anyone who knew Bill, and also supplied a whole range of pictures from various matches and Bill’s retirement event.
As ever, my sympathies to Bill’s family and all at Walsall Wood, and my heartfelt gratitude also to David for putting this better than I ever could.
Goodbye Bill, old chap.
David Evans wrote:
Bill Shaw – a personal obituary
Walsall Wood Football Club. Attending the home and away matches and marvelling at the different cries and accents that abounded there in those days, was part of my formative years. There were the players who performed with baffling skill, of course. There were also the committee, groundsmen and helpers of all sorts who were always there. Dependable, reliable.
Over the years I had lost touch with the club until a few years ago when I was encouraged to go and watch the Wood play an important home match against Guernsey.
It was strange to walk back in to a part of my past, through those metal gates, if not through the steel turnstiles. This was when I met up again with Bill. He was near the entrance and we had a chat for quite some while.
Bill was like that. He could be relied on to be there to welcome players and visitors alike; a genuine welcome. He was there to shake hands with the players as they left the pitch after the game. Bill would be there, without fail, full of enthusiasm and obvious passion for football and for the club.
He unfailingly arrived very early at matches to perform the duties and tasks of the matchday secretary, to meet the officials and visiting committee members, the referee and linesmen. His wife Lynn made the tea, sandwiches and the aftermatch meals for the players of both teams – without fail. Reliable and dependable.
Yet for me it is seeing Bill ‘sat sitting in the stand’, clutching his reporter’s notebook and pen, furiously noting every move in his own rapid notation, hearing him giving fearless voice to grace the need as he saw fit, that will remain for a long time in my mind.
Bill was very perceptive during the matches. He could absorb the intricate moves and strategy of both home and visiting teams in an instant and perhaps for this reason he would give vent to his observations in a way that was all his own.
But in the last few years Bill did not enjoy the best of health and age and increasing infirmity began to tire him. He had travelled many miles over the years, from his home village in Leicestershire to watch the Wood play, wherever that was.
We had often reminisced about how things were when we were young, of course. Bill remembered his infant school and headmistress, and his childhood in Clayhanger. Sadly Bill felt the need to resign as Club Secretary in 2017, a difficult decision both he and his constant companion and support, his wife Lynn, knew was ultimately a necessity.
The club arranged a retirement party for him and for Lynn. Bill’s farewell speech was fulsome, detailed, and uncompromising. Nothing less would have been Bill. The evening did have a surprise for them both, a beautiful, fitting surprise that left Bill speechless, which was a rare event. A board bearing his name was unveiled behind the goalmouth that Bill walked past at every match as he made his way to congratulate the players as they left the ground.
Bill had enjoyed the loving wonderful support from his good lady wife, Lynn, throughout his time at the club. The club, in its turn, was very fortunate to have Lynn’s culinary and hospitality skills on hand at all the home matches. Indeed, it was Lynn who would type out the match reports as Bill dictated them from his reporters notes, after they had driven all the way home. That’s what I call dedication and teamwork.
Memories: happy, abiding memories, then.
From my childhood memories and the names of Harold Holyman, groundsman in the early 1950s, Jim Salt, Arthur Wadey, trainer, George Mycock, of course, who was the founder and president of the present club, Geoff Woodward …. and now another name takes its place in the precious oral history of Walsall Wood Football Club: Bill Shaw, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on 4th March 2018.
Thank you for being you, Bill.
12th March 2018