Southport FC Former Players Association (Port Online)

Bill Holmes 1926-2020

We are saddened to learn of the death of Bill Holmes, one of the Club’s oldest surviving players who passed away earlier this month, aged 94.

Like his contemporary  George Bromilow , Bill was a schoolteacher and a former Amateur International. Hunslet born,  his family  moved to Morecambe  when he was a toddler. There he attended Lancaster Road Junior School  and was captain of the Morecambe Grammar School football team . As a youngster he played for both Morecambe and Lancaster City in the Lancashire Combination.

Bill served in the RASC and Educational Corps from 1946-48  during National Service and on being demobbed he went to Leeds University where he obtained a B.Sc in Maths and physics. Leaving University Bill joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and played in their Central League side. When regular centre-forward  Jesse Pye was injured Bill was selected to play in a League game at Middlesbrough on 14th January 1950  but he had previously agreed to turn out for Yorkshire Amateurs in the FA Amateur Cup tie and was not prepared to break his commitment to them.

Bill next played for Doncaster Rovers where he made his Football League debut. Still an Amateur he joined Blackburn Rovers where he netted in each of his first five appearances scoring 16 goals in 21 Second Division matches and a further three in the FA Cup including one against local rivals Burnley in Rovers 3-1 victory at Ewood Park in the sixth round tie. The Summer of 1952 saw Bill as  a member of the Great Britain squad which competed in the Olympics in Helsinki but was not selected to play. He did however win six Amateur International caps for England.

After two seasons with Blackburn Rovers Bill signed as a full-time professional with Bradford City and came to Haig Avenue in an exchange deal which took Kevin Walsh to Valley Parade. A strong, forceful player he was top goalscorer in 1954-55 season. On the morning of 30th October he was married to Gay Petrie at St Cuthbert Church and in the afternoon scored a hat-trick against Carlisle United thus emulating he feat of Bill Poyntz for Leeds United thirty-two years earlier.

The following season, one of Southport’s greatest ever, Bill was coming into form with five goals in four games when he injured an ankle against Barrow on 13th December 1955 and thereafter made only occasional appearances. He retired from football at the end of the season. During his two seasons at Haig Avenue Bill scored 21 goals in 56 League games.

Whilst at Southport he taught Science and P.T. at Everard Avenue Technical School, Liverpool. Seven years later a career move took him to Woolaton, Nottingham where he became a Training Officer at Boots and later worked at Allied Breweries as a training Manager. In later life he became a keep- fit instructor at various venues in the Nottingham area. In November 1995, the Nottingham Evening Post reported that the classes had been running for ten years and interest was greater than ever.  His courses providing a blend of exercises followed by coaching in games such as volleyball, badminton, indoor hockey and table tennis