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William Chalmers (footballer, born 1912)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Chalmers
Personal information
Full name William Ritchie Chalmers[1]
Date of birth (1912-02-11)11 February 1912[2]
Place of birth Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Date of death 7 October 1943(1943-10-07) (aged 31)[2]
Place of death Grimsby, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[3]
Position(s) Inside forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Newburgh West End
Kirkcaldy Waverley
1930–1932 Raith Rovers
1932–1938 Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 153 (17)
1938–1939 Barrow 36 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

William Ritchie Chalmers (11 February 1912 – 7 October 1943) was a Scottish professional footballer who played mainly as an inside left. He played in the Scottish League for Raith Rovers and made nearly 200 appearances in the English Football League for Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic and Barrow.

Football career

Chalmers played for Newburgh West End before joining Kirkcaldy club Waverley.[2] In March 1930, the Courier and Advertiser wrote that "Chalmers is only 17 years of age, but, although young in years, he is the brains of Waverley's attack. It should not be long before he is showing his paces with a senior club."[4]

Manager Billy Birrell signed Chalmers for Division Two club Raith Rovers later that year. Birrell's successor, Jimmy Logan, praised Chalmers' performances for the A team during the 1931–32 season, and gave him a debut in the senior eleven, but at the end of the campaign Logan gave him a free transfer.[3][5] Chalmers applied for reinstatement as a junior, and was expected to join Fife League champions Rosslyn Juniors,[6] but instead he again signed for Birrell, this time at English Third Division South club Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic.[3]

Chalmers made his Football League debut on 17 December 1932 away to Gillingham, and played in the last three matches of that season.[2] He scored once, the only goal of the reverse fixture against Gillingham, with a "shot which hit the crossbar and bounced down over the line."[7] He returned to the first team in November 1933 and was a regular at inside left for the rest of the season.[2] A splintered bone in his leg kept him out for some weeks in the middle of the 1935–36 season and meant he missed the FA Cup third-round visit to Bradford City, which Bournemouth lost 1–0.[8] After a 1936–37 season in which he rarely missed a match, he lost his place through injury in December 1937 and rarely appeared again, William O'Brien being preferred at inside left.[2][9] He made 153 appearances and scored 17 goals in league competition, 25 goals from 171 matches in all senior competitions.

Chalmers spent the 1938–39 season with Barrow of the Third Division North. He was used as much at outside left, the position he had played as a youngster in Scotland,[3] as at inside left, played 36 league matches, scored twice,[2] and helped Barrow improve from a position of needing to apply for re-election to the League in 1938[10] to a mid-table finish. He played in the first three matches of the 1939–40 season, and converted a penalty in a 2–2 draw with Bradford City in the third of those, before competitive football was abandoned when war was declared.[2]

Personal life

Chalmers was born in 1912 in Kirkcaldy,[1] the only son of Henry Ritchie Chalmers and his wife Davina Birrell.[11][12] He served an apprenticeship as a joiner, and worked in that trade both before and alongside his football career.[11]

He joined the Army in 1942 and served as a gunner with the 512th (East Riding) Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery.[11][12] While stationed in the Grimsby area in October 1943, he died in unclear circumstances. He had made cocoa for the night watch before being taken ill; an ambulance was called in the early hours, but he died on the way to hospital. A post mortem attributed death to an irritant poison, believed to have been phosphorus, which was used in the officers' mess to kill beetles but to which Chalmers had no access. Giving evidence at the inquest, Chalmers' captain described him as a good soldier of temperate habits and a good athlete; his sergeant said that everyone had drunk the cocoa and none had become unwell. An open verdict was returned.[11] Chalmers was buried in Dysart Cemetery, Kirkcaldy.[12]

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 1932–33 Third Division South 4 1 0 0 4 1
1933–34 Third Division South 26 3 2 0 2[a] 1 30 4
1934–35 Third Division South 31 3 0 0 1[a] 1 32 4
1935–36 Third Division South 31 5 3 3 4[a] 1 38 9
1936–37 Third Division South 42 4 3 0 1[a] 0 46 4
1937–38 Third Division South 19 1 2 2 0 0 21 3
Total 153 17 10 5 8 3 171 25
Barrow 1938–39 Third Division North 36 2 1 0 1[b] 0 38 2
Career total 189 19 11 5 9 3 209 27


  1. ^ a b Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-899468-67-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Chalmers, WR (William)". English National Football Archive. Retrieved 29 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d "From Stark's Park to Bournemouth". Evening Telegraph. Dundee. 20 July 1932. p. 8.
  4. ^ "Amateur football in Kirkcaldy". Courier and Advertiser. Dundee. 18 March 1930. p. 9.
  5. ^ "William Ritchie Chalmers Record vs Heart of Midlothian". London Hearts. Retrieved 28 January 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Fifer (25 July 1932). "Fife Juniors ready for kick-off". Courier and Advertiser. Dundee. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Bournemouth 1 Gillingham 0". The People. London. 30 April 1933. p. 24.
  8. ^ "Cup team problems". Midland Daily Telegraph. 8 January 1936. p. 13.
  9. ^ "Cup teams in doubt". Daily Herald. London. 9 December 1937. p. 16.
  10. ^ "Northern Section unchanged". Leeds Mercury. 31 May 1938. p. 9.
  11. ^ a b c d "Open verdict returned". The Fife Free Press. 16 October 1943. p. 4.
  12. ^ a b c "Gunner Chalmers, William Ritchie". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 29 January 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
This page was last edited on 17 February 2021, at 21:57
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