After representing Lincolnshire schoolboys at wing-half he was signed by Grimsby Town, turning professional when barely 17, having assisted Scunthorpe United as an amateur while still at school.
In his first season he helped Grimsby regain their Second Division status. He lost his place in 1962 and, after making 129 appearances and scoring 3 goals for the Mariners, was signed by Watford manager Bill McGarry who had previously bid for him at Bournemouth.
In almost 11 seasons with the Hornets he played a record 404 (+ 7) League games, including a run of 4 successive seasons ever-present. Initially at wing-half, he moved to full-back when new manager Ken Furphy stopped playing. He won a Third Division Championship Medal in 1968-69.
Following ten years at the club, he was rewarded with a testimonial with Elton John singing at his do and also presenting with his gold disc from the record Goodbye Yellow Brick Road .
Transferred on a ‘free’ to Southport, he brought his career record up to 585 (+ 8) games and 28 goals, making him the most experienced player to turn out for the Sandgrounders.
On 26 September 1975 he was appointed player-coach when Jimmy Melia left for the Persian Gulf. Whilst never officially appointed as manager, the club were not initially looking for a replacement for Melia, with Chairman Tom Robinson happy to share the duties with Welbourne.
Welbourne himself did class the role as his first step into management and therefore that’s good enough for us to include him amongst the list of former managers on this site.
In 2012 he gave an interview to the Watford Legends website in which he commented on his time at Southport.
“I was the Manager of Southport for a while, and the Commercial Manager but there was no money and was really hard work. It became not really worth doing. I was struggling to get my wages.”
“I then became a Tunneler. So for example the underground tunnel at Canary Wharf was worked on by me. That was a very dangerous job as there was water pouring in all the time.”
In January 1976 the technically still vacant manager’s role was filled by Allan Brown. Duncan played on for another month before retiring from playing duties to become Commercial Manager following the resignation of Keith Butler.
Watford Football Club sadly confirmed his passing on the morning of 14th January 2019.
Profile reproduced with Permission from:
The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C., by Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (Palatine Books, 1995). ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9