Dave Woodhall pays tribute to a football supporter extraordinaire.
News of Terry Wills’ death at the age of 87 has been greeted with sadness from everyone who knew him in the West Midlands football community. Terry had latterly been best known as a regular on the Radio WM phone-in, where he spoke about the Albion with the insight that comes from a lifetime’s devotion to a club and also railed against what he dubbed the Greed League, a phrase for which he became famous, His opinions may not have found favour with all, but no-one could doubt Terry’s sincerity, nor find fault with the courteous way in which he put his views across.
Before becoming a well-known voice on the radio, Terry was involved with Albion’s Grorty Dick fanzine, played an active part in the local Football Supporters Association and wrote for the Birmingham Press not only about the Albion but also his other great love, the theatre. Terry was particularly fond of the great Broadway musicals and would often attend opening nights wearing evening dress, reportedly matched with a blue and white scarf on one occasion when his ‘duties’ clashed.
While he was a fanatical Albion supporter, Terry was more than anything a football fan. He belonged to that vanishing breed who grew up when the only way of watching a game live was by attending and stuck to his belief that there was no substitute for being there in person.
As a result, Terry had a host of tales to tell, not just from Albion games he had attended but also from the many he saw as a neutral – watchng England win the World Cup in 1966 and the 1968 European Cup final between Manchester United and Benfica being just two of the legendary footballing occasions at which Terry was present. Not that he would regarded this as anything to boast about – they were football matches he wanted to see, so he was there. Such was the way of this most modest and unassuming of men, a genuine product of his times.
Terry’s wife Dot died last year. Our sympathies go to his family and friends.