Born within the sight and sounds of burning sparks and roaring bellows, William Black was the first football player to arrive at Goodison Park who had been born in the mist covered islands of the Inner Hebrides where his Father William, had chosen to make a home for himself and his Wife Catherine.
The couple had first met – and married – at Blackburn Street in the Plantation area of Govan (now part of Glasgow) where their first child, Duncan junior, was born. Shortly after this event, Duncan excepted the position of Village Blacksmith at Torosay on the Island of Mull and set up home at a location known as The Lochbury Croft and it was here that William – their 4rd child – was born on the 5th of September 1882.
He spent the early part of his life on The Isle of Mull until the death of his Father – on the 2nd of January 1889 – forced Catherine to go and live with her Aunt – near to her birthplace – at Tayvallich in the Knapdale region of Argyllshire. She spent several years here before moving back to Lanarkshire.
The Black family took up residence at Motherwell where Willie – now serving an apprenticeship at a local foundry – began playing juvenile football with the Enfield Star club. In the Summer of 1902 – moving up to Junior level – he signed for Dalziel Rovers who were members of the Lanarkshire League. During his time with the Motherwell based club he represented the League X1 and was selected to play Junior football for Scotland. Next season he moved up to Senior level and joined the famous Glasgow amateurs, Queens Park.
The Hampden Park club were members of Scottish League Division 1 and Willie Black found himself pitted against the leading clubs in the land. On the 24thof January 1904, he took part in his first Scottish cup tie but his side were beaten 3-0 by Dundee at Dens Park. He helped Queens Park to complete the season in mid league and left them as the season came to an end.
On the 21st of April 1904, Willie Black signed for Celtic and made his debut in a 4-1 home win over Port Glasgow Athletic. He made another 10 appearances as the Parkhead club went on to win the Scottish League championship. On the 29th of May, 1905 – following an approach by Mr Danial Kirkwood – Willie Black left Celtic and signed Professional forms with Everton in a deal – which amounted to £400 – that included team mate, James Hannan.
The Scot made his Football League debut on the 16th of September 1905 against reigning champions Newcastle United – at Goodison Park – as Everton were beaten by 2 goals to 1. He then made regular appearances – on both flanks of the half back line – and was included in the line-up for the local Derby Game against a Liverpool side who were challenging for the championship. The local journalist, who viewed the occasion, described the scene that greeted Willie Black as stepped out on to the playing area…The crush was so great that not only was the proper accommodation packed, but spectators encroached up on the playing area. Fully an hour before the kick-off, the capacity of the ground was tested. At 2:30, the dense and swaying crowd, at the Oakfield Road, broke down the railings and surged on to the field. A staff of Constables kept the spectators behind the touchlines, but shortly afterwards a similar incident occurred and a full avalanche of spectators poured on to the ground. All around the playing pitch, enthusiastic supporters of either side poured around the touchlines. Others climbed on the roofs of the stands while several partisans swarmed up the pillars supporting the stand and perched themselves in the forks of the ironwork. The ground is supposed to hold 28,000 people but 35,000 were present while thousands remained outside unable to gain entrance (Liverpool Courier 14th of April 1906.)
Amid all the chaos the game went ahead and Jack Taylor had given the visitors a half time lead when late penalty – converted by West – made the final score 1-1. Willie Black was all most certainly included in the Everton party when they left for London – 2 weeks later – to contest the FA Cup final against Newcastle United at the Crystal Palace. However, he took no part in a game that saw Everton lift the trophy – for the first time – with a 1-0 victory. The party then had to spend the weekend sightseeing in the Capital because – next Monday – they were obliged to honour their rearranged Football League fixture away at Sheffield Wednesday.
They left from Marylebone Railway Station and arrived at Sheffield Victoria Station where two horse drawn brakes were waiting to take them on to the home of their opponents in the district of Owlerton. Jack Taylor – who sat alongside the driver – was warmly applauded – as he held the trophy aloft during the journey through the streets of the Steel Town.
Everton had made 3 changes to the cup winning side when they took to the field at Hillsborough. Both first choice full backs were absent while Willie Black replaced Harry Makepeace in the half back line. They lost the game by 3 goals to 1.
The visitors then made a quick departure for nearby Wadsley Bridge Railway Station because it had been arranged for an Express Train make an unscheduled halt in order to convey them quickly back to Liverpool. They were shocked to discover that – amidst all the excitement – the prized trophy had been left behind in the dressing room. The Wednesday club however, saved the day by dispatching a member of staff, “post haste” after them and the FA Cup was back with its new owners as they departed on their homeward journey.
Thousands of people – amongst them many local dignitaries – waited to greet the Everton party as they steamed in to Liverpool Central Station where the trophy was displayed amid scenes of great excitement. Willie Black – no doubt impressed by the spectacle – next season agreed to re-join Everton for a wage of £4 per week.
The Scotsman failed to gain a regular place in the clubs first X1 but was made Captain of second X1 who played their matches in the Lancashire Combination. He made – during the course of the season – just 7 Football League appearances and was offered the same terms for next season. However, he declined the invitation and returned to play football in his native Scotland.
Willie Black first played for Kilmarnock and then made 1 appearance for Dumbarton – on the 7th of October 1907 – and helped them to a win over Albion Rovers. He then carried his football boots to several different parts of the country. Black again played for Kilmarnock then Hamilton Academicals before moving on to Ayr Parkhouse. The West Coast Club were in the process of amalgamating with their main rivals Ayr FC so – eventually – he turned out in the colours Ayr United. Willie Black then returned to junior football at nearby Annbank before ending his career with the Thornhill club in Dumfries.
He had found employment as a “Brass Moulder” and spent the rest of his working days at this occupation. On the 30th of December 1912, Willie Black married Isabella Murray at her home at 61 Almada Street in Hamilton. The couple then set up home at Kirkland Street in Motherwell where they raised 2 children. William Black was residing at this address when his Daughter Ella informed the authorities of his death on the 7th of February 1960 before he was buried at the local Airbles Road Cemetery.