Wanted To Be Schoolmaster – Selected For England (picture)

29 September 1951

South Yorkshire Times, September 29th, 1951

Wanted To Be Schoolmaster

Selected For England

A man whom doctors said would never play football again, who wanted to be a schoolmaster, was on Monday selected to play soccer for England against France at Highbury.

Arthur   Willis was born third son of a Denaby miner 31 years ago. He attended a  Mexborough school, where he was a clever, hard-working lad and good at sport. At thirteen his family moved to Derbyshire, where he still showed promise at sport, and he gained a good School Certificate at an Ecklington school.

The family moved back to Denaby and lived at 75, Tickhill Street, after they had spent a short time in London.

With an elder brother, he joined Northcliffe Club, for whose team they played left and right full-back. A “scout” spotted them, and said that Arthur’s brother had played the best game that afternoon, but that there was a position for a left-back.

Just before the war Arthur signed amateur forms with Tottenham Hotspur, but refused to join the club unless his brother could go too. Just before the war they both moved to London, and Arthur said goodbye to coal mining, at which he only worked six weeks and “hated it.”

In 1940 he had an operation for a duodenal ulcer and he suffered from this trouble until 1948, when he had another operation in Sheffield. Doctors said he would never play soccer again.

“The happiest day of my life,” he says, “was when I signed professional forms for the ‘Spurs in 1944.”

He was married just over eight years ago, and his mother, Mrs Alice Willis, told our reporter on Wednesday that her daughter-in-law was expecting a baby this week. His wife was formerly Miss Jessie Ibbertson of 65, Maltby Street, Denaby Main, and a trained nurse. They are living at 255, Durants Road, Pondersend, Enfield, Middlesex.

Arthur’s brother works at an aircraft factory in London, where they both worked during the war. He plays as an amateur for the London club. Finchley, at right full-back.

Until last season, when he won a League medal, Willis was to almost unknown. An injury to left back Withers forced Tottenham to bring him into the side, and Withers has never since regained his place.

At left full-back, he is the only new ” cap ” in the England team.  One of the smallest backs ever to play for England, he stands 5ft. 8ins. and weighs about 11 ½  stones.