As England celebrate the milestone of their 1,000th international match against Montenegro at Wembley tonight, Manchester Metropolitan University historian and Boro fan Dr Tosh Warwick takes a look back at our first England international Tim Williamson.
North Ormesby-born Tim Williamson, known as ‘Tiny’ due to standing at only 5 foot 9 inches tall, not only holds the accolade as Middlesbrough’s record appearance holder but also the distinction as Boro’s first full England international.
In his excellent Ayresome Memories ‘England at Ayresome’ article, Boro historian Shaun Wilson has described the first England International to take place at the famous old ground.
Making his England debut, the Boro goalkeeper was at fault for Northern Ireland’s goal in a 1-1 drawn as he dropped the ball over the line. Tim Williamson would play for England a total of seven times while at Ayresome Park, keeping clean sheets against Wales at Millwall and Wrexham and enduring only one defeat between the sticks for the national team.
Williamson not only played in the Linthorpe Road Ground’s last match but also the first at Ayresome Park, and was a stalwart of the Boro side up until the interwar period.
During a record-breaking 602 appearances for Boro, the goalkeeper even managed to score a couple of goals from the penalty spot for the Ayresome Park outfit in 1910.
In January of the same year, one newspaper described Williamson’s performance against Everton as ‘one of the finest exhibitions of guardianship ever witnessed at Goodison Park, while the Athletic News declared ‘Williamson, thy name stands for consistency and cleverness’.
Williamson is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers to play for the Boro which was recognised upon his retirement by the club. Decades later in 1960, Williamson’s brilliance was recognised in an Evening Gazette supporter-selected greatest Boro XI, with the legendary figure receiving the second highest number of votes for inclusion in the dream team behind George Hardwick and was ‘by far the most popular choice in goal’.
Three decades later, The Evening Gazette’s Boro history supplements collection of 1991 described Williamson as ‘one of the best goalkeepers in the country’.
He would hold the record of Boro’s oldest player until Bryan Robson broke the record in the late 1990s.
Image credit: Harry Greenmon collection