Billy Meredith: Wales and Man City footballer's watch up for auction

Billy Meredith in action for Manchester United in 1908 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Billy Meredith played at clubs including Manchester City and Manchester United from 1892 to 1924

A gold pocket watch belonging to a Welsh footballer from the early 1900s is set to go under the hammer.

Billy Meredith, from Chirk, Denbighshire, is Manchester City's oldest ever player and won 48 caps for his country.

The timepiece's owner Sheila Stevenson, 87, said she thought it was "just a nice gold watch" and didn't realise its value.

The watch is estimated at £2,000 to £4,000 at auction on 22 August.

More than 50 years ago, Mrs Stevenson, from Leicestershire, took her son Simon's watch to a jeweller's to be cleaned, where an inscription was revealed.

It reads: "Presented to W. Meredith, Manchester City FC, to commemorate winning the English Cup (FA Cup), 1903-1904."

But neither Mrs Stevenson or her son realised the significance of the inscription.

She said: "Neither myself or my son Simon are big football fans.

"I never thought anything of it, just that it was a nice gold watch. I put it away in a drawer [for decades]."

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The watch's caption honours Meredith for winning the FA Cup in 1903-04

But when she showed the watch to a visitor who supported Manchester United and recognised the name, he was "on cloud nine".

Mrs Stevenson said she has researched Meredith and believes the watch came to her family "through friendship".

Hansons Auctioneers sports valuer Alistair Lofley said the item had "phenomenal sporting pedigree" and described Meredith as "a superstar of his day, an old-school Cristiano Ronaldo".

He played for 27 seasons in the Football League, at clubs including both Manchester City and Manchester United, from 1892 to 1924, scoring 176 goals in 740 league and cup appearances.

Meredith retired from football at the age of 47 in 1924, making him City's oldest ever player.

He is honoured in the hall of fame at the City of Manchester Stadium and the English Football Hall of Fame.

The watch will be sold at a Football in Focus and Sports Memorabilia Auction at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire.

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