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Feature

Silkmen A-Z: Wilf Hall

5 June 2019

We continue our look back at the Silkmen stars of yesteryear by featuring a goalkeeper who will forever remain in our hearts.

Born in St Helens in October 1934, Wilf started his career with a local amateur team. Only employed as a stand in originally, he impressed with his no nonsense style and moved up to play for Haydock C&B. A move to semi professional club Earlestown FC quickly followed and Wilf started gaining attention from higher up the football pyramid.

In 1954 Stoke City signed the 19 year old and Wilf was thrown right into the thick of it - making his debut for The Potters in the epic FA Cup Third Round tie against Bury. Wilf was in goal for all five games (9 hours 22 minutes) of the tie. It became the longest cup match between two professional sides - which Stoke eventually won.

Wilf was at Stoke for six years in total, although often as second choice keeper to Bill Robertson. Gaining a reputation as a puncher of the ball, his only sustained run in the team was in the 1957-58 season.

He made the move to Ipswich Town in 1960 for the huge fee of £4,700 (the equivalent of over £95,000 today). Stoke sold the 'keeper in order to fund the purchase of their legendary former player, Stanley Matthews. With a salary increase from £7 to £40 a week - things were certainly looking up for Wilf!

Hall played for Ipswich for three season, often as understudy to other goalies, and earned a First Division winners medal in the 1961-62 season under Alf Ramsey. As well as a trusted stalwart in goal, Wilf also got involved in other areas of club life - including helping to build the new North Stand at Ipswich in 1961. Unfortunately, he broke his shoulder in five places in early 1963 and was strongly advised by various doctors that he should never play football again.

He didn’t listen! After a short time out, Wilf was convinced by his old Stoke friend Frank Bowyer to make the move to Macclesfield. The club were looking for an emergency 'keeper and Wilf was itching to get back playing. He joined the club in 1963 and started his long love affair with the Silkmen.

Wilf made his debut for Macclesfield on 24th August 1963 at home to Buxton. 2,369 fans watched him keep his first of many clean sheets in the 1-0 win during the first game of the season. An ever-present in goal that year, he finished the season as the Silkmen’s Sportsman of the Year, receiving both the Webster Trophy and Macclesfield Express Medal. Wilf continued to impress the following season, but the signing of legendary keeper John Cooke eventually pushed Wilf down the pecking order. He left Macc in early 1966 in search of other opportunities and spent time with both Stafford Rangers and our old rivals Altrincham.

Hall rejoined the Silkmen in 1968, again as understudy to Cooke. He was to remain our number two keeper throughout the rest of his playing career, often appearing in cup games throughout the next few seasons. He then chose to retire from the game and was granted a benefit match in May 1972 when Macc played a representative team from the Northern Premier League. However, this certainly wasn’t the end of Wilf’s time with the Silkmen. In fact, it was really only the start.

Wilf had relocated to Macclesfield with his family and continued to be heavily involved in all aspects of the club after hanging up his gloves. He undertook a huge variety of roles including trainer, groundman, reserve team coach, director, programme seller, gateman and commissionaire in the suite and main entrance. A familiar face to all who frequented the club, Wilf could always be relied on for a smile and a quick-witted response to anyone who spoke to him.

Sadly Wilf passed away in 2007 after a brave battle with cancer. His contribution and commitment to the club over forty-four years was immeasurable. From his time on the pitch, where he was never booked and made the difference in many a game, to his time behind the scenes, his contribution should never be forgotten.

An old friend of Wilf’s, Eric Bond, summed it up when Wilf passed by saying “Wilf’s love affair with Macclesfield Town never died - but his worn-out hips, a legacy of his long spell as a goalkeeper, sadly did”


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