HERE we have our fourth and final helping of Harry Wait photographs — from the days of the lithe and lanky Walsall keeper, which have been kindly supplied by his son and daughter, Bert Wait and Edna Allen.
Top right is a rare picture from a game Walsall played against Corinthians — the ‘gentlemen amateur’ side who thrashed many a top team in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before being dissolved just before the Second World War. Bert believes Corinthians beat Walsall by a narrow margin. But the most curious thing about the picture is the goat at pitchside. He was, Bert believes,, the Corinthians’ mascot.
At bottom right is an early team picture from Harry’s amateur days, when he lined up with Birmingham Juniors against ‘Scotland Inter’ at Coventry, on 4/41914. Harry kept a clean sheet as Birmingham won 1-0.
At right is a cap whose origins Bert and Edna are unsure of. SFA 1926 is the only clue, but could that knot signify Staffordshire Football Association? Let us know if you can tell us anything about the cap.
Harry’s long footballing career was given a glowing tribute in May 1957, when Fellows Park hosted a testimonial match for him. Bill Pemberton, in the souvenir programme, wrote:
“No man who has ever set foot on the Hillary Street ground is more worthy of the fullest tribute from football lovers than this young-in-heart man of Pleck who for 34 years has been serving the town club as player, trainer and now groundsman.
“Years before many of those watching tonight’s game were even born, the tall lithe figure of Harry Wait was to be seen between the Walsall uprights.
“After six years of ‘retirement’ on April 18th 1936, Harry Wait was recalled for first team duty in an emergency and his displays proved that the years had not impaired his judgment as a first class goalkeeper. So was made up his grand total of 264 league games and 11 cup tie appearances in the Walsall goal.
“So ladies and gentlemen, with our thanks to the club and players who are represented in tonight’s match, I give you a toast — ‘To Harry Wait — rough diamond with a heart of gold’ and may his testimonial be worthy of his record.”