He must have been doing something right, however, as he won a sackful of international caps and was one of Bristol's most famous footballers. A collection of these caps, plus other personal effects, will be on offer at East Bristol Auctions estimated at £8000-12,000.
While the best prices for English football memorabilia normally involve the terms ‘FA Cup’ and ‘Manchester United’, collectors and institutions (sometimes the clubs are involved as bidders) do feel that early items score highly overall.
William John ‘Billy’ Wedlock played for Bristol City from 1900-01 and then 1905-21, when he retired. From 1901-05 he played for Aberdare.
Between 1907-14 he won 26 England caps. His short and stout built gave him that nickname ‘Fatty’. So famous was he, that until recently, the East End Stand at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate Stadium was named The Wedlock Stand. On retirement – and in fine old-school footballer tradition - Wedlock owned and ran The Star public house outside the stadium, which after his death, was renamed The Wedlock (but is now demolished). He completed 403 league appearances in his time.
When the First World War was declared in 1914, it was expected that the Football Association would follow the example soon set by cricket and cancel all matches. But, despite opposition, matches were played in the Football League throughout the 1914-1915 season and the FA Cup held as normal.
For the remainder of the war, the Football League suspended its programme but allowed clubs to organise regional competitions. Intriguingly, East Bristol says: “There are several known examples of Wedlock receiving an official exemption from War Duties, rumoured initially to be due to his importance in keeping morale high in the City, but later due to family concerns and him being the father of seven ‘motherless children’.”
By the time the war ended in 1918, Wedlock was too old to return to high-profile matches and never played for England again, but did continue to play for Bristol City until 1921.
The lot includes Wedlock’s gold-plated pocket watch engraved to verso with WW monogram and neatly engraved to the inside Presented to W. Wedlock By His Friends At Aberdare, In Recognition Of Gaining All English International Caps 1906-7-8, April 30th 1908.
Among the caps are his British Championships International 1909-10 cap in maroon and cream. Embroidered with FA logo to front, and 1909-1910 embroidered to the peak.
Two England International caps date from 1909, while all three of his 1910 International England caps are offered - purple, red and cream, denoting matches against Ireland, Scotland and Wales respectively.
The collection also comes with a selection of reproduced photographs, articles and books relating to Wedlock.