A personal memory by Paul Rowley of yesterday's guest of honour.
- Legendary Bert Llewellyn guest of honour at Rochdale match.
- BBC Manchester's Paul Rowley recalls career of boyhood favourite.
- Llewellyn scored 140 in 185 appearances for Latics between 1965-1968.
A bonafide legend with a goal scoring record to rival that of the modern day superstars, Golborne-born former Latics forward Bert Llewellyn, 77, was our guest of honour for Easter Monday's match against Rochdale at the DW Stadium.
Greeting the crowd at half time with members of his family and receiving a career certificate from Jeff Rourke of the Wigan Athletic Supporters Club, Bert was received with the utmost respect from Latics supporters of all ages, none more so than BBC Manchester's Wigan Athletic reporter Paul Rowley, who grew up taking in the delights of Llewellyn's goalscoring prowess during the 1960s.
Below, Paul recalls the career of one of his boyhood favourites:
Bert scoring one of his 140 goals for Latics, in a 2-1 win against Mossley at Springfield Park in the 1966/67 season.
Bert Llewellyn scored the first Wigan Athletic goal that I saw. It may well have been his last. But boy what a record!
At my reckoning he bagged 96 goals in 115 appearances in the Cheshire League over three seasons, when he even managed more league goals every year than our record goalscorer Harry Lyon.
As a 13-year-old I attended my first Latics match on March 30th, 1968, a Lancashire Junior Cup semi-final against St Helens Town. It was an inauspicious start to my lifetime love affair, but Bert got the only goal.
I'd gone along to watch my cousin Derek Floyd, who like Bert was from Golborne. Derek, an old style wing-half (what happened to wing halfs?) didn't play, though he did feature in the Final when we beat Marine 2-0 at Deepdale. It was Bert's last season but his goalscoring ratio was better than Lionel Messi's.
He was signed by Allan Brown in 1965, and managed 49 in 39 league appearances in his first season, and if you include the variety of cup competitions we took part in in those days he collected 57 in 57 in the days before we were sponsored by Heinz. The following campaign he managed a mere 37 (28 in the league) and in his final year 25 (19).
Oddly for such a prolific marksman, Bert wasn't tall, and his build was slight, but he was as sharp as Will Grigg in the box, scoring 5 goals twice, 4 three times, and no fewer than six hat-tricks.
Born six months before the start of the Second World War, Bert's career exploded at Everton, where he found the net on his debut at the age of 17 years 199 days - the fifth youngest scorer in the club's history.
The goal, in a 3-2 home defeat against Blackpool was followed by another in his following game, a 2-2 draw with Bolton, but despite nine more appearances for the First Division giants he didn't trouble the Goodison onion bag again.
He moved to Fourth Division Crewe Alexandra two years later with a record of more than a goal every other game, 51 in 96 league matches. It was almost as productive at Third Division Port Vale with 42 goals in 88 appearances, before an ill-fated transfer to Northampton Town. The Cobblers won the Third Division title under Dave Bowen in 1963, but Bert managed just eleven minutes in the claret-and-white after suffering a leg injury on his debut.
He collected six goals in 17 games at Walsall before joining his home-town club just after we celebrated lifting our first Cheshire League title in almost thirty years. But despite a lethal partnership with Harry Lyon, we finished runners-up for the next two seasons behind Altrincham, and in Bert's final year we'd fallen to eighth place.
Bert left us just before we joined the Northern Premier League in 1968, retiring at the age of 29. He did collect an array of trophies for his locker, the Cheshire League Cup, the Lancashire Junior Cup, the Liverpool Non-League Senior Cup (twice), the Lancashire Floodlit Cup, the Northern Floodlit League, and the Northern Floodlit League Cup.
After all these years. I'd just like to tell him one thing. "Thanks, Bert. You started it all for me."