Having joined Ealing straight from school as a shy 18 year old, I initially had little involvement with the senior members of the club in general and Willie in particular. That changed when I started to frequent the Wheatsheaf and got to know Willie, his wonderful wife Wyn, big Wally and the rest of the early evening crowd who would occupy the bar stools.
In later years, I became very friendly with Willie. He was always quietly spoken, but chose his words very carefully. As he got to know me better, he occasionally offered advice about how I could improve my performance on the pitch. Willie was the archetypal iron fist in the velvet glove, so his comments would be delivered in a friendly manner, but one was left in no doubt about the message.
Some of my favourite memories of Willie relate to the Cabaret Nights we used to hold. Willie was a born impresario, with extensive knowledge of the entertainment business. He used this expertise to mould the rabble, which included Messrs. Martin, Foote, Benjamin and myself, into a half decent outfit. Who could forget (some would like to!) Tom Jones and the Blossoms, Elton John and the Deep South Dingos, the Neverley Brothers and the Muddly Medley of Musicals including The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and South Pacific?
Willie was a proud Welshman and an Ealing man through and through. The contribution he made to the club was massive but, perhaps more importantly, he was a great guy and very loyal to those who were lucky enough to consider themselves his friends.
Our condolences go to his family.
Dave and Mary Horne