Bill Cherry & the class of '56

At Mossley's recent away game at Squires Gate I was approached by a stranger who asked if I and my travelling companions happened to be from Mossley. As Mossley AFC historian it quickly became serendipitous as he announced that he used to play for Mossley. I asked him his name, "Cherry" he replied, "Bill" I said quickly. He looked at me with a puzzled expression - as I explained how I knew his first name. He then proceded to show my friends and I two team photographs taken during his time at Mossley.
I had too many questions to ask as we ran through the names on the photos. I had read and written about them all. (See Players A-Z) I was naturally delighted when he agreed to loan them to me. He stayed to watch the first half but unfortunately had to leave to collect his wife but when it was mentioned to him that we still had to play Squires Gate at home, he said that he would love to visit Mossley again and would see if he could arrange to come accross from his home in Lytham St. Annes.
Bill Cherry then and now
A couple of days later I returned the photos along with a covering letter and statistical details of his playing spell at Mossley . Within a few days Bill contacted me by phone to say that he was coming over to the game.
He found me again almost upon his arrival. His first visit back to Seel Park since 1956 (a year before I was born). He brought with him his scrap book , which he kindly loaned to me, and the trophy that he won with Mossley in the 1956 Ashton Challenge Cup when he played right half as Mossley beat old rivals Stalybridge Cetic 3-1 in the final of what was at that time a highly prestigious competition, at Hurst Cross, in front of an attendance of 2,400. Goals from Jackie Ward, Ron Parkes and Ron Garland won the game.
Bill really enjoyed his trip down memory lane and donated his trophy to the club, though he was disappointed that none of the people he knew back then in the mid 1950's were still around Seel Park.
Bill was born in the north east in 1933 and played his first competitive football as a goalscoring inside right for West Wylham Juniors, before scoring 5 goals in 3 matches for Throckley Miners Welfare senior side, where he also worked as an assistant groundsman after leaving school. Bill's form was such that he was recomended to Cardiff City by former Bluebirds centre forward Reg Keating and he soon headed for south Wales. Bill played his first game for Cardiff City Reserves in the Football Combination against Coventry City Reserves just prior to his 16th birthday.
When not catching the reserves Bill played regularly for City's nursery club Cardiff Nomads, who, despite being made up entirely of teenagers ran away with the Cardiff Combination (open age) League and won the Welsh Youth Cup. Bill's manager at Cardiff Nomads was former Welsh International Jack Nichols who was capped both at amateur and professional level. Bill signed a one year professional contract for Cardiff in 1950, but didn't make the first team and moved instead to live in Heywood where he was signed by Bury for the 1952-53 season. He appeared regularly for the reserves and 'A' team but before the season was over he had moved to Northwich Victoria in the Cheshire League. Bill was signed by Mossley manager Jack Boothway early in the 1954-55 season. Ironically Bill made his Mossley debut against his former club and scored both Mossley goals as Northwich won 4-2 at Seel Park. Boothway had the bright idea of switching Bill to right half and the move paid dividends, as, not only did he relish in the move, he strengthened Mossley's half back line considerably and was regularly praised in the press and by supporters for his displays as a strong and creative footballer.
His second season at Mossley saw the club struggling off the field, so much so, there was much speculation that the club may fold. They even allowed manager Boothway to move to Northwich Victoria and operated the 1955-56 season with Jock Anderson taking training and the team selected by the management committee. That the team went and won the Ashton Cup despite the fear of disbandment was a great acolade to the team spirit of that Mossley side led by captain, centre half and team hard man Jack Wilkinson ably supported by wing halves Bill Cherry and Harold Barlow. Goalkeeper was Dennis Ross, full backs were Eddie Thornley and Roy Wells. The usual forward line was Ron Parkes, Cyril Megson, Tommy Doyle, Jackie Ward and Ron Garland.
Bill left Mossley following the Cup win and joined Manchester League Radcliffe Borough and finished his playing career in Sunday football with Heywood Casuals, where he was a team-mate of former Mossley winger Eric Jenyans in a side founded by one time Mossley manager, the late Don Wilson.
1954-55
Back Row: Bill Cherry, Eddie Thornley, Harold Barlow, Harold Evans, Joe Wharmby,
Jock Anderson.
Front row: Jackie Ward, Ron Parkes, Cyril Megson, Jack Wilkinson, Bill Jones,
Brian Prolze.
1955-56
Back row: Roy Wells, Ron Parkes, Dennis Ross, Eddie Thornley, Ray Molineaux,
Alan Walker.
Front row: Tommy Doyle, Cyril Megson, Jackie Ward, Jack Wilkinson, Bill Cherry.