Bill Branston - RIP

1 month ago By Richard Clark

We are saddened to learn of the death of former Glassboys goalkeeper Bill Branston at the age of 88.

Bill played for Stourbridge between 1949 and 1951, and was part of the team that won both the Birmingham and Worcestershire Senior Cups in 1949/50, and then finished 4th in a then very strong Birmingham League the following season.

Stourbridge would go on to win the Birmingham League in 1951/52 but by that time Bill had moved on to Nuneaton Borough, later playing for Lockheed Leamington, Bedworth United and Rugby Town before retiring in 1955.

Bill had a long association thereafter with Leamington, and the following tribute, by Paul Vanes, is reproduced from the Brakes Trust website:

BILL BRANSTON born 30 August 1928, died Sunday morning, 14 May 2017.

Bill left school (where they played rugby) in 1942 and started playing goalkeeper for Alfred Herbert Juniors and within two years, joined the first team in the hurly burly of Coventry Work league football where he came to the attention of Port Vale playing for their Reserve side in the Cheshire League in 1944/45.

Upon his 18th birthday, he was conscripted into the Royal Air Force and soon found his way in to the RAF Group team. By now, he was on the horizon of Aston Villa and moved to the Football League side as a full time professional upon his demob. Bill progressed through their ‘A’ team into the Reserves in the Central League. After two seasons, Bill suffered a bad ankle injury that ended his professional career.

Bill went into non-league with Stourbridge winning the Birmingham Senior Cup after a replay at Dudley watched by more than 14,000 fans and the Worcestershire Senior Cup in 1949/50 and the Glassboys finished fourth in the Birmingham League the following season with Bill ever-present playing in all 45 games.

He moved to Nuneaton Borough with the club enjoying an unbeaten run up to October, Bill broke a thumb and could not regain his place when it had healed so in December 1951, he joined Lockheed Leamington and in late January broke a finger in training missing several matches. He stayed at the Windmill Ground for 52/53 apart from a short spell with Bedworth and was first choice in both following seasons. In 1954/55, Bill moved on to Rugby Town and at the end of that season finally called it a day and retired.

Bill took over running the Windmill public house adjacent to the football ground in 1955 and he did this in addition to his full time job working at Automotive Products but in 1970 he left the pub and in 1981 retired from the AP factory.

Bill’s retirement consisted of being the full time Commercial manager and also acting as caretaker manager of the football club on four occasions as Sid Ottewell, Geoff Coleman, Jimmy Knox and John Farrington left. When the club became Leamington Football Club, he soon took over as Commercial Director.

Bill was delighted to accept the position of Club Ambassador working in the boardroom on match days entertaining the visiting directors of that days opponents, the match officials and any other visitors with his endless stories of his playing days and the tales of the people he had played with and those whose who made an impression on him. His football knowledge was second to none. We will all miss this kind hearted gentle ‘giant’ of a man whose trade mark was his smile.

All at Stourbridge FC would like to offer their condolences to Bill's family and friends, and to all who knew him at Leamington FC.

Updated 11:23 - 25 May 2017 by Nigel Gregg

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