Wrexham Football Club has been saddened to learn of the passing of former player Charlie Kelsall, who turned out for the Robins during World War Two and for a further six seasons in the Football League following the conflict. He was five days past his 98th birthday.
Buckley born and bred, Charlie took up playing football at St.Matthews School in Buckley and Hawarden County School, where he was selected at all age levels. He had football in his genes, as his brother Joe won a Welsh Amateur international cap.
Upon leaving school he obtained work at a Buckley Brickworks and continued playing football for a local side, Mynydd Isa Wanderers, with whom he won a Flintshire League Championship medal, and a runners-up medal in the Flintshire League's Challenge Cup in 1938.
Charlie played for Buckley Town during the following season, where a Wrexham scout spotted him. After a visit to his Buckley home by the Wrexham director George Turner in the close season of 1939, Charlie signed for the Racecourse club on a part-time basis.
He was playing in Wrexham's Cheshire League side when the Second World War began, but he continued to combine semi-professional football with work at the brickworks, because of his age.
Charlie made his first team debut for Wrexham in a Football Regional League West Division match against Chester in March 1940, and he made two further appearances before the end of the season.
He became a regular in the Wrexham team in the following season, playing regular matches against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Stoke City, etc, before being called up to the Army at the end of the 1940-41 campaign.
Charlie joined the 2nd Survey Regiment in May 1941, with whom he was to serve for the majority of his time in Burma and India. In five years in the Army, he would only return home the once and that was for a fleeting visit.
After WW2 was over, Charlie re-signed for Wrexham on a part-time basis, and returned to work at the Metallic brickworks, where he became manager.
A full-back, playing at either left or right back, Charlie made his Football League debut in a 1-0 defeat at Stockport in April 1947, as he went on to give loyal service to Wrexham, spending a further six seasons at the Racecourse.
Although he struggled to gain a regular first team place due to the form of the likes of Cyril Jones, Eddie Tunney, Ron Jackson and Ronnie Wynn, during that period. He played mainly in the Cheshire League side but could always be relied upon to cover at full-back in the first team when required.
Charlie finally left the Racecourse in May 1952, when he joined Welsh League side Holywell Town, who were managed by former Wrexham player Gordon Gunson. In his first season with them, Charlie featured in their Welsh League Division One Championship winning side, and he also collected a Welsh League Alves Cup runners'-up medal.
He spent one more year with Holywell before joining his local side, Buckley Rovers, turning out for them for a season before knee trouble forced his retirement.
Charlie continued working at the brickworks in Buckley, later becoming a manager at the Lane End Brickworks, before ending his working life at British Aerospace at Broughton.
He had lived in retirement in his native Buckley until his passing on at Aston Hall Residential Home.
Everyone at Wrexham Football Club would like to send their deepest sympathy to Charlie’s only son Peter, who now resides in Denver, Colorado, with his children Angie and Ian.
Season League FA Cup Welsh Cup Total
apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls
1939/40 3 0 - - - - 3 0
1940/41 20 1 - - - - 20 1
1946/47 3 0 - - - - 3 0
1947/48 1 0 - - - - 1 0
1948/49 3 0 - - - - 3 0
1949/50 8 0 - - 1 0 9 0
1950/51 18 0 2 0 - - 20 0
1951/52 6 0 - - - - 6 0
Total 62 1 2 0 1 0 65 1
F/League 39 0 2 0 1 0 42 0
By Peter Jones