Related Olympians: Father of Barbara Slater.
After playing in the Lancashire and District Youth League and then for Yorkshire Amateurs and Leeds University, Bill Slater joined Blackpool in 1944 but he was then called up for National Service and spent most of the next three years in Germany, occasionally turning out for Blackpool. After he was demobbed, they wanted him to turn professional but he continued with his physical education course at Leeds and remained an amateur. Following an injury to team-mate Allan Brown, Slater was given the inside-left position in the Blackpool team that lost to Newcastle United in the 1951 FA Cup Final. Bill became the third, and last, post-war amateur to play in the Cup Final after Arthur Turner of Charlton and Peter Kippax of Burnley. The next season he moved south and joined Brentford and was then selected for the Great Britain team to compete at the Helsinki Olympic Games. Bill played in Britain’s only match and scored one of their extra time goals in the 5-3 defeat by Luxembourg.
After the Olympics he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers, still as an amateur as he had a teaching post at Birmingham University. He made his debut in a 6-2 win over the reigning League champions Manchester United in October 1952 but only played a few games in his first season. However he was a first team regular in the 1953-54 season as Wolves captured their first ever League title. At the end of the season the directors were keen to give him a full time contract but they compromised and he signed as a part-time professional, carrying on with his job at Birmingham University. Bill’s signing-on fee was £10. Having previously won 20 England Amateur caps, he won the first of his 12 full England caps against Wales in 1954. He subsequently lost his England place to the great Duncan Edwards and he also spent part of the 1957-58 season in Wolves’ reserves as they went on to win their second League title. Following the death of Edwards in the Munich air disaster, Slater regained his place in the England team and he played in all four of England’s matches in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Back home, Wolves collected their third League title in 1958-59 and in 1960 Bill won that elusive FA Cup winners’ medal when he captained the Wolves team that beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at Wembley. He was also honoured with the Football Writers’ Player of the Year Award in 1960 – the first Olympian to receive the award. Bill eventually moved back to Brentford in the 1963-64 season but played only five games taking his final tally of Football League appearances to 352. A wing-half, capable of playing at full-back, centre-half or inside-forward, he was never booked throughout his long career. Bill later became the Director of Physical Education at Birmingham University and in 1974 was elected on to the Sports Council. He was awarded the OBE for his services to sport in 1982 and in the 1998 Birthday Honours’ List he was honoured with a CBE. He was President of British Gymnastics at the time and his daughter Barbara was an Olympic gymnast, representing Great Britain at Montreal in 1976. She later joined the BBC, and in 2009 was appointed the director of BBC Sport in succession to Roger Mosey.
|1952 Summer||25||Helsinki||Football||Men's Football||Great Britain||GBR||17T|
|1952 Summer||25||Helsinki||Football||Great Britain||GBR||Final Standings||17T||1952-07-15||1||0||0|
|1952 Summer||25||Helsinki||Football||Great Britain||GBR||Qualifying Round||Match #9||2||1952-07-16||LUX 5, GBR 3||1|