Ex-Celtic footballer scores 100!

A FORMER professional footballer celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by his friends and family – and his wife of 77 years.

William Armstrong welcomed in his second century amongst those he cherishes most, at a party laid on for him at the Holme House Residential Home, in Gomersal, on Friday.

His family has paid tribute to a 'gentle' man who has always offered encouragement to his three daughters, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, who came to help celebrate his big day.

Wife Jean, who is 97, said: "We've had a wonderful life together and I'm so pleased we've managed to get everyone together to celebrate Bill's birthday. We've all enjoyed ourselves and being able to get the family around him is really special."

Born in Glasgow in 1910, William was one of 10 siblings and grew up in an area of the city that was still largely rural. In his teens, he used to help trot out horses at the local stables, and discovered a love of football.

After meeting Jean at a local church where his father was an elder, the couple were married in 1932 and last August celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary.

To support his young wife and baby daughter, William took a job at Templeton's Carpet Factory and continued playing football in church leagues around the city, until he was offered a trial by Glasgow Celtic. However, he decided to shun Celtic Park to focus on providing for his family.

William was registered as a player for Bridgeton Waverley for the 1940/41 season and took a voluntary position with the National Fire Service during the Second World War.

In 1947 he moved his family – eldest daughter Jean and twins Irene and Margaret – to Wyke after getting a job with Firth's Carpets in Bailiff Bridge. He and his family have remained in the area ever since.

Jean said: "Dad has always taken an interest in what we've done and always shown us encouragement in whatever we are doing."

He later took a job with John Rigby and Sons, in Low Moor, where he remained until he retired at 65.

For many years, William and Jean enjoyed ballroom and sequence dancing and were founding members of the dance club that met at Harold Club, then at Low Moor WMC and later at Dovesdale Club, in Bankfoot.

The couple kept up their active lifestyle during their nineties when they would take the bus to Heckmondwike every Tuesday to enjoy lunch at the Salvation Army.

For his birthday party, William's youngest sister Irene Ford, 81, travelled to Gomersal from Glasgow to celebrate the occasion.

She said: "Bill has always been a music lover and even though I was very young when they got married, I can remember him playing the accordion while I sang. I must have been about four-years-old. He's always been a music lover."

William has been a popular resident at Holme House for the last two years - where he helps look after the younger residents - and his wife Jean still regularly visits him.

Granddaughter Louise added: "Words cannot describe what kind of person he is – he's always been there with a smile on his face. I can't believe it's his 100th birthday, it's a fantastic achievement and we'll all proud of him."