If there had been soccer superstars in the 1940s, Walter Ardron would have been one of them. No other Rotherham United player has ever generated such adulation from the supporters; he was a centre forward to strike fear into the heart of all opposition and one of the most prolific goal-scorers the game has known. During war-time football there were eight occasions when he scored four goals in a single game; in eight Millmoor seasons he amassed a total of 232, and he was the first in the country to score 200 post-war league goals. Enhancing his reputation even further, as late as 1981 - long after his retirement from the game - his goals for the Millers and Nottingham Forest put him alongside Jimmy Greaves and Arthur Rowley as the only men in post-war English football to hold dual-club scoring records. A native of Swinton near Rotherham, he left school at 14 and worked at Kilnhurst Colliery and in the manufacturing industry until 1936 when he joined the LNER as an engine fireman. Two years later he became a part-time professional at Millmoor, but work on the railway limited his availability to one Saturday in three and a refusal to accept full-time terms resulted in his release at the end of the season. He joined Denaby United in the Midland Counties League, but in November 1941 the Millers paid £100 to get him back and had to agree to Denaby receiving half of any future transfer fee and their use of him in the remaining cup-ties of that season. Resulting from that, on Easter Saturday 1942 he left Mexborough at 2.15am as fireman on a train to Cleethorpes and returned at 11am, having been shovelling coal for almost four hours. In the afternoon he scored twice at Millmoor against Sheffield United, and at 6.15pm he kicked-off for Denaby in the final of the Mexborough Montague Cup - which went into extra time! An understandable sequel was that the Millers paid £750 to terminate the agreement, but the colliery shifts continued - some starting at 2am - and the physically demanding nature of the work made his footballing performances all the more remarkable. He was helped by extraordinary fitness; he had trained with weights from boyhood and as a memberof the Doncaster Plant AC had competed nationally in track and field events until 1939 when his becoming known as a professional footballer disqualified him from AAA competitions. In 1943/44 he created a club record by scoring 36 goals, which included a four and three hat-tricks. Indeed, over three consecutive games in February he found the net on eight occasions. At that time he made 'guest' appearances for other clubs- scoring the winning goal for Halifax Town against Manchester United, playing for Accrington Stanley against Blackburn Rovers in a final of the Lancashire Cup and leading the Sheffield Wednesday attack in a semi-final of the 1943 League North Cup. His following season's total of 28 goals included the equalising goal in a War Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday about which Fred Walters, then leading sports writer of the Sheffield Star, said, ". . . would have done credit to any front-ranking centre forward of the day." In 1946/47 he beat his own previous record by scoring 38 league goals - a total unsurpassed at Millmoor to this day. Two seasons later he was team captain and, by playing for an FA XI against the Army became the first Miller for 27 years to win representative honours; only work commitments prevented him touring abroad with the England squad. Walter's second son was born on the morning of 13 September 1947; in the afternoon he celebrated the event by scoring four times against Carlisle United - getting the first in 15 seconds - and on the same date in the following year he marked the boy's first birthday with four goals at Hartlepool. A remarkable aspect of Walter Ardron's career is that his first game in the Football League was on 14 January 1939 and the second was on 31 August 1946. Of course,the Second World War intervened but, nevertheless, seven years and 228 days is an unprecedented interval between a player's first two senior games, particularly when he went on to play a further 304 in the Football League. In June 1949 the club received its then record fee by transferring him to Nottingham Forest, and although at that time £10,000 was a lot of money for a 32-year-old, the Forest manager was considered to have done the close-season's best business. Walter looked on the move as the start of a new career and expressed the view that if a man had looked after himself he should be in his prime at the age he then was. Until then he had continued with his work on the railway, but his new club insisted he became a full-time professional, and their record investment soon paid dividends. Earlier in the year Forest had been relegated from Division Two, but at the end of his second season were back again and his contribution of 36 goals is still a club record. Quickly he made an impact on the Second Division: in November 1951 he became the first in the country to score 200 post-war league goals; a month later he scored twice in a 3-2 derby win over Notts County and he got two in Forest's beating of the Millers, and the season ended with his team in fourth place in the division. He remained with the club until he was nearly 38 years old and retained a first team place until halfway through the 1955/56 season. On retiring in the tollowing summer he had scored 123 goals in 185 games for Forest. The Ardron family then returned to Rotherham where Walter took a job at a local steelworks. There his first week's wage was more than he had ever earned from a week in football. Seasons 1959-63 were with Doncaster Rovers as trainer-coach, where he brought to bear the demanding physical standards that as a player he had so rigorously imposed upon himself. The following five years were with Carlisle United as Yorkshire scout. During that time he was appointed to the position of head messenger with the National Westminster Bank in Rotherham and had his own part-time business as physiotherapist and chiropodist in which he had qualified while with Forest. On severing the connection with Carlisle United he satisfied a zest for football by being Rawmarsh Welfare's trainer for three years, then becoming a travelling supporter of the local side, Centralians, in which his two sons played - an interest he maintained until his untimely death in 1978 at the age of 59. Contrary to impressions created on the pitch, he was a gentle, caring man; he had a great interest in youngsters and for several years ran his own youth club, first at his home and then at Swinton Manor Youth Club. Footballers with a gift for exciting the public and scoring a lot of goals are something very special, and Walter Ardron was just that. He reigns supreme among South Yorkshire's all-time goal-scorers: no one can match his remarkable consistency in averaging 33 goals over six consecutive seasons, and it is unlikely that his club record of 38 in the league in 1946/47 will ever be beaten. He had an insatiable appetite for goals, in pursuit of which he never knew the meaning of a lost cause. He was the total competitor . . . the ideal teammate. Millmoor will not see his like again.
This chapter from Millmoor Personalities 1946/1986 by David Watson (1986) is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council Department of Libraries, Museum and Arts '
|Full name||Wally Ardron|
|Date of birth||19 September 1918|
|Place of birth||Swinton,
South Yorkshire, England
|Date of death||1978|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Wally Ardron (19 September 1918 – 1978) was a footballer born in Swinton, South Yorkshire, and who played as a centre forward. He joined Rotherham United from Denaby United, and went on to score 98 Football League goals for Rotherham, either side of World War II.