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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 13, 2014

By Tony Matthews

  • Leigh Richmond Roose, one of the greatest keepers, and characters, of his day

  • Adam Rooney

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ADAM ROONEY, a striker, joined Birmingham City after his contract with Inverness Caledonian Thistle expired at the end of the 2010-11 season, having netted 53 goals in 120 appearances for the Scottish club. He signed a two-year deal with Championship side Blues and scored what his manager Chris Hughton described as 'a typical poacher's goal' in a pre-season friendly against Cork City before making his Football League debut in a 2-1 defeat at Derby County soon afterwards.

He went on to net seven times in 30 games for Blues before moving to Oldham Athletic after a loan spell with Swindon Town.

Born in Dublin in April 1988, Adam played for Crumlin United, Stoke City, Yeovil Town (on loan), Chesterfield (on loan) and Bury (also on loan) before joining Caley-Thistle in the summer of 2008.

Now registered the SPL club Aberdeen, he won nine U21 caps for the republic of Ireland between 2007 and 2010.

LEIGH RICHMOND ROOSE was an exceptionally fine goalkeeper – one of the best in the business during the early 1900s.

Born in Holt near Wrexham in November 1877, he played for Aberystwyth Town, Ruabon Druids, London Welsh (at football), Stoke, Everton, Stoke (again), Sunderland and Huddersfield Town before joining Aston Villa in August 1911.

He made just 10 first-class appearances in a four-month stay at Villa Park. Thereafter he assisted Woolwich Arsenal and Llandudno Town, and served with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers as a lance corporal during the first part of WWI. A Welsh Cup winner with Ruabon Druids in 1900, he was something of an eccentric goalkeeper, a real practical joker who never donned a clean pair of shorts at the start of a game. He wore a pair of boots (patched up) for ten years and hardly ever caught a ball fired straight at him, often heading it away or punching it.

He won 24 full caps for Wales and during his career amassed well over 300 club appearances. He was killed in action in France in October 1916, aged 38.

ALAN ROPER, an amateur wing-half with Wolves, went on to appear in 60 first-class games for Walsall during the 1960s (scoring two goals). He made his debut for the Saddlers against Middlesbrough in a Second Division match in September 1962, playing his part in a 3-2 win before a crowd of almost 18,500 at Fellows Park.

Alan left the club in the summer of 1965 and it is said that he is still with us, living in Tipton where he was born in May 1939.

IAN ROPER, no relation to Alan (above) was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in June 1977. A 6ft 3in central defender, he worked his way up through the ranks at the Bescot Stadium before signing professional forms for Walsall in May 1995.

He established himself as a first-team regular during the 1998-99 season and collected the club's 2002-03 'Player of the Year' award to add to the 'Young Player of the Year' prize he had earned a couple of years earlier.

Often an important member of the Saddlers' back-line, he had to get his career back on track after falling out of favour for a spell under former boss Ray Graydon, which saw him placed on the transfer list.

Ian completed his resurgence by signing a new three-year contract at the end of the 2003-04 season but suffered at the hands of suspension and injury for much of the following campaign.

He returned to the side in early February 2005 and was soon back to his solid best with some commanding displays in the heart of the Saddlers' defence.

Unfortunately, in March 2007, Ian suffered significant damage to his knee following an injury picked up during the 1-0 defeat at Stockport County the previous month.

In May 2008, having taken his appearance-tally to 380 (seven goals scored) he and eight other players were released by the managerless club!

Ian went on to play for Luton Town, Kettering Town and Tamworth before joining Bedworth Town in August 2011.

BILLY CRISPIN ROSE was born in St Pancras, London in April 1861 and died in Bordesley Green, Birmingham in February 1937.

A very capable goalkeeper, his career went as follows: Small Heath/Birmingham (briefly), Swifts/London (season 1882-83); represented Wiltshire, Shropshire and London (seasons 1883-85); Preston North End (season 1885-86), Stoke (August 1886), Wolverhampton Wanderers (January 1889), Loughborough Town (July 1894), Wolverhampton Wanderers (again, August 1895, retired, May 1896). He subsequently became a licensee in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and also ran a general store in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, near to the St Andrew's football ground.

Tall, brave and competent in everything he did and rightly regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers of his era, Billy won five England caps, having a quiet international debut when Ireland were beaten 8-1 in February 1884. A month later he played 'exceedingly well' in a 1-0 defeat by Scotland, earning praise from one match reporter who wrote: 'It is difficult to find a better goalkeeper.'

Owing to the presence, and availability, of so many other quality 'keepers who were around at the same time, Billy was in fact virtually third choice for his country but still

made over 250 club appearances during his career, 155 for Wolves, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1893 and played in the losing final of 1896.

Billy also attempted to form a Footballers' Union in 1894, which his club, Wolves, disapproved of! He was sacked along with four other players, Dickie Baugh, Harry Allen, George Kinsey and George Swift. He went off to play for Loughborough but returned to the club a year or so later.

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