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James Williams
Williams, circa 1910, possibly pictured in Crystal Palace colours of the time, claret and blue
Williams, circa 1910, possibly pictured in Crystal Palace colours of the time, claret and blue
Born 15 February 1885
Buckley, Wales
Died (aged 30)[1]

John William Williams (15 February 1885 – 5 June 1916), also known as James Williams[lower-alpha 1] and referred to as "Ginger" Williams, was a Welsh professional footballer who won two caps for the Wales national football team and played in the Football League for Birmingham.[2] He died on active service during the First World War.

Playing career

Club career

Williams was born in Buckley, Flintshire, to coal miner William Williams and his wife, Elizabeth Williams.[3] A prolific scorer in junior football, he played for Bury, though not in the Football League, and for Accrington Stanley before impressing on trial with Second Division club Birmingham. Williams signed for them in August 1908,[4] and made his debut on 7 September 1908, playing at inside left in a 3–1 win at home to Bradford. He was given a decent run of games in the starting eleven,[5] but failed to impress, and returned to Accrington Stanley in February 1909.

In the 1909 close season, he moved to Crystal Palace of the Southern League.[4] With Palace his best position was centre forward or inside right, though he was capable of playing in any forward role. Described as "an eager, neat and busy little footballer who possessed a snappy tackle and plenty of enthusiasm and determination", he scored 58 goals from 149 appearances in all competitions, including scoring five in one match against Southend United in September 1909.[6] Williams remained with the club for nearly five seasons, during which time he won two caps for Wales.[7] In February 1914 he joined Millwall, also playing in the Southern League,[4] and remained with the club for about a year.[8]

International career

Williams made his international debut for Wales in the 1912 British Home Championship against Scotland national football team at Tynecastle on 2 March 1912. Wales lost 1–0.[9] His second cap came in a 3–2 defeat at Ninian Park against Ireland in the same competition.[10]

Personal life

Williams was born in Buckley, Flintshire,[4] and was married to Sarah.[1] He had a son, Kenneth, born in August 1913. He enlisted in the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment – the Footballers' Battalion – and served in northern France during the First World War. He transferred to the Royal Engineers and was killed in a mine explosion in June 1916.[11] He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial[1] and at Millwall F.C.'s ground.[12] His death was widely reported, including in The New York Times.[13]


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Name


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Casualty details". Commonwealth War Graves Commission.,%20JOHN%20WILLIAM. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  2. Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData. p. 282. ISBN 978-1-899468-67-6. 
  3. 1891 Wales Census
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. pp. 134–35. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9. 
  5. Matthews, p. 155.
  6. "James 'Ginger' Williams". Crystal Palace F.C.. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  7. "Palace Internationals". Crystal Palace F.C.. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  8. Article from Palace Echo by Alan Russell about Crystal Palace F.C. players killed during the First World War, reproduced by the author as a forum posting.
    "Palace players in WW1". CPFC BBS. 18 November 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 
  9. "Welsh International Matches 2 March 1912". Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 
  10. "Welsh International Matches 13 April 1912". Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 
  11. "Welsh International - "Ginger" Williams Killed in Mine Explosion". Western Mail. 20 June 1916. p. 4. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  12. "New Cross, Millwall FC WW1 War Memorial". Lewisham War Memorials. Local History and Archives Centre, Lewisham. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 
  13. "Noted Soccer Player Killed in Action" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 July 1916. p. E9. Retrieved 1 May 2009. 

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