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Full Name: William Slater
Played in an FA Cup Final at Wembley as an amateur
Received a league winners medal as an amateur
1958/9 he was named as Footballer of the Year
Never Cautioned throughout his football career
Bill Slater played junior football in the Lancashire and District Youth League and then occasionally for Yorkshire Amateurs and Leeds University, before, in 1944, he joined Blackpool. Bill's physical education course at Leeds meant that he could only turn out for The Tangerine's occasionally and although the seaside club were keen for him to sign professional forms with them, he insisted that he remained an amateur.
It was in 1951 that he found himself in Blackpool's cup final team, an injury to a team mate giving him the chance. But Slater travelled home that evening with a losers medal. In December, 1951, with his college course now over, Bill moved south to join Brentford. In his five months with the club he made 30 appearances and also found the time to marry his girlfriend, Marion. Then in the close season of 1952, he signed for Wolves despite the reservations of a couple of directors who didn't feel it right that an amateur should play for a big First Division club.
Bill had, by now, taken up a teaching post at Birmingham University and his commitments there meant that he hardly ever made a training session at Molineux. To make matters worse for him, with players like Wright, Crook, Baxter and Flowers on the club's books, the competition for wing half places in the team was intense.
But he forced himself into the side to play Manchester United at Molineux at the beginning of October, 1952, and he had a memorable debut as Wolves crushed the Reds by 6-2. He made only the occasional turn out for the first team after that until towards the latter part of the season when he played in ten of the last twelve games.
He obviously did enough in those games to impress manager Stan Cullis, for the next season saw him miss only three games as Wolves collected their first ever League Championship, At the end of the term the board, fully aware of his talents, strove to secure a stronger hold on the man who had received a league winners medal as an amateur.
And they achieved some success when they came to an agreement with Bill and his bosses at Birmingham University and the man from Lancashire signed on as a part time professional - his signing on fee being £10.
Bill's commitments outside soccer led to him missing the odd match, one of which was the FA Charity Shield game against West Bromwich AIbion in September, 1954. But two months later he was awarded his first cap when he played for England against Wales at Wembley and followed that up three weeks later at the same venue when England overcame the West Germans by 3-2. He then lost his place in the national side to the late, great Duncan Edwards.
The next two seasons on the domestic front saw Bill miss eighteen games altogether, but 1957/8 found him in the reserves for the first half of the season, in fact he didn't play in the first team until a few days before Christmas. The second half of that campaign saw him in and out of the side as Wolves won the championship once again and he also got back into the England side after the tragic loss of Duncan Edwards in the Munich air disaster.
He played nine times for England before the end of the year. 1958/9 saw Wolves top the league again with Bill playing in about 75% of their games, then, the following year he held aloft the FA Cup at Wembley after the defeat of B1ackburn Rovers in the final. That same year he was named as Footballer of the Year and he also qualified as a Bachelor of Science.
He spent a further three seasons at the club before he moved back to Brentford for a short spell prior to his retirement from the game. Throughout his long career, Bill always retained some sort of amateur registration and he is fondly remembered by Wolves fans of the time, as a stylish and fair wing half. Not once in his time in football did he receive a caution. Bill became Deputy Director of the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and then became Director of Physical Education first at Liverpool and then Birmingham University.
In 1982 he was awarded the OBE for his services to sport. He became Director of National Services in 1984 until 1989, when he was elected as President of the British Gymnasts association. In the summer 1998, he made the short trip to Buckingham Palace from his London home, this time to pick up the CBE.