Charlie Williams, the son of a Bajan father and English mother, holds the distinction of being the first black footballer to represent Doncaster Rovers. After working at Upton Colliery, Charlie signed for Rovers in October 1948 and made his first team debut in the final League game of the 1949-50 season. He did not reappear until January 1955, kept out of the Rovers first XI by first Syd Bycroft and then Bill Paterson.
Charlie soon made up for lost time, being an ever-present in the 1955-56 season and scoring his only League goal in a 2-2 draw at Barnsley in March 1956. A no-nonsense central defender, strong in the tackle and in the air, he also possessed of a surprising turn of speed. His final game came in November 1958 after which he had to give up full-time football due to a knee injury. He did, however, play for three seasons with Skegness Town.
While at Rovers, Charlie had teamed up with his lifelong friend Alick Jeffrey in a singing group. Charlie was a natural funny man and told jokes, which proved popular in the Working Men’s Clubs where they performed. Charlie decided on a career in entertainment and his big break came in the 1970s ITV show, The Comedians, which showcased stand-up talent from the club circuit. He later succeeded Bob Monkhouse as host of the game show, The Golden Shot, and became a household name for his catchphrase “alreight me old flower.” Many of his gags concerned the issue of race, and Charlie had first-hand experience of racism, not only during his football career but also when he was refused entry to Australia because of the colour of his skin. He deflected hostility with humour and charm and seldom failed to win people over.
Throughout the country people will recall Charlie for his TV and stage performances as a comedian, but to Rovers supporters he will be remembered as a member of the great teams of the 1950s, a fine defender and a very popular figure among the fans. He died in 2006, aged 77.
Rovers Debut: 3rd May 1950, Division Three (North) vs. Tranmere Rovers (home) Drew 1-1.
Final game: 22nd November 1958, Division Three vs. Bradford City (home). Lost 0-3.
Rovers Career: Football League: 157 appearances, 1 goal. All senior games: 173 appearances, 1 goal.
Honours with Rovers: Sheffield County Cup winner 1955-56