When you try to quantify what a “quiet man” has accomplished throughout his life it is tempting to look for headlines but Bill Mossop was so much more than that.
Born on Denmark Street, Lancaster, in 1921, Bill went to Marsh School and then onto Dallas Road and I can only assume he played sport from the day he took his first step until he stopped playing football five decades later.
A very early image of Bill taken in 1932 at the age of 11 when he was captain of Marsh Juniors cricket team and he is seen receiving a trophy watched by a very proud teacher.
Headmistress Mrs Ochiltree went on to be Headmistress at Skerton Juniors when Bill’s future wife, Jean, attended.
In season 1937-38 he represented the North Lancs League in a Junior International against Scotland that was played at Easter Road, Edinburgh, the home of Hibernian Football Club and received the first of his two international “caps” in a resounding 3-1 victory. He played for Galgate from 1937-39 in the North Lancs League.
The Second World War now intervened and local football was put on hold by the majority of clubs although John Bagot performed miracles in keeping the league ticking over with a senior and a junior section.
In season 1945-46 Leeds United came calling in the shape of manager Billy Hampson.
At this time Bill was working on the railway and lived in Hellifield where the postcards posted to him at his home at 14 Thornwick Road, Hellifield, Yorkshire, made interesting and encouraging reading.
On one Billy Hampson wrote, “Pleased to note your good reports. Keep it up. Best wishes WH.”
Bill’s hopes were eventually dashed when he was refused time off from work to travel to Leeds for training and so he joined Morecambe in November 1946 and played for three seasons.
He returned to the North Lancs League with Bentham United for season 1949-50 as they were a club making swift progress in Division I.
Season 1950-51 saw Bill’s team emerge as a real force in local football and his leadership was impressive and influential because he led by example and encouragement.
They finished 2nd Division One behind local rivals Ingleboro, won the Senior Challenge Cup by beating Galgate 3-0, lost the final of the Parkinson Collegian Cup 2-4 to Dry Dock United and went down 0-2 to Carnforth Rangers in the final of the Senior Charity Cup.
In two short years Bill had led his team from being a mid-table club in the league towards the pinnacle of grassroots football.
Bill Mossop had obviously made an impression on the Ingleboro manager, Bill Waggett, because he was enticed up the road to join the North Lancs League Division I champions as they ventured into uncharted waters in the newly established professional league of the North West Combination.
Bill took it all in his relaxed, laid back stride as Ingleboro became champions of the new league in season 1953-54.
In 1960-61 Bill finally left Ingleboro and with his friend Ken Moscrop began playing for Williamsons in Division II of the North Lancs League where he also worked.
I’m a great lover of grassroots football and my admiration for the players and officials who are involved at that level knows no bounds and when I focus on a man like Bill Mossop I see a player who influenced not only his teammates but everyone he came into contact with.
Whenever footballers meet in a restaurant, on the terraces, on a street corner or in a coffee house to talk about football and share memories and laughs we will all remember an extraordinary talented man but above all a true gentleman.