Alf Sherwood

The son of Herbert Sherwood, a labourer and coal miner from Wiltshire, and Alice Maud Williams, a labourer’s daughter from Aberdare, Alfred Thomas Sherwood was born on 13 November 1923 in North View Terrace, Aberaman, a stone’s throw away from his hometown football club. 

In 1939 Alf was an apprentice wagon painter. Then, during the Second World War, he was drafted into the coal mines to work as a ‘Bevin Boy’.

Scouts recognised Alf’s footballing prowess at an early age and he gained caps at youth level for Wales. He was also an accomplished cricketer. 

In 1942, Alf joined Cardiff City from Aberaman Athletic. A wing-half at Aberaman, he switched to full-back at Cardiff. He was so impressive that he made that position his own for the rest of his career.

When the Football League returned for the 1946–47 season, Alf missed just one match for Cardiff City. That season the club gained promotion as champions of Third Division South. In the 1951–52 season, Alf was appointed club captain and under his leadership Cardiff City gained promotion to the First Division.

Alf’s senior international career began on his 23rd birthday in a match against England in the British Home Championship. The score: 3 – 0 to England. However, on 22 October 1955 in the British Home Championship match played at Ninian Park, as captain Alf led Wales to a famous 2-1 victory over England.

In total, Alf won 41 Welsh caps. He earned a reputation as ‘the king of the slide-tacklers’. Indeed, Stanley Matthews described him as “the most difficult opponent he ever played against.” Students of the game reckoned that Alf’s main qualities were outstanding pace, sound tackling and a wonderful positional sense.

Alf also served club and country as a stand-in goalkeeper. On 17 April 1954 in a match against Liverpool, he saved a penalty taken by Scottish international Billy Liddell, which ultimately condemned Liverpool to relegation.

After an illustrious career, Alf worked for the National Coal Board. He also worked as an insurance agent and during the course of this work he called on my great grandmother, Edith, to collect her monthly insurance premiums and chat.

Alf died on 12 March 1990.