Bolton and Cardiff legend Billy Jennings remembered

First published in Penarth sport

DESPITE his storied career as both player and manager, the Vale of Glamorgan's Billy Jennings may not be as well known as some football figures due to his decision to leave football altogether in 1939 for the quiet life in Penarth.

The grandson of Barry-born Billy, Chris Jennings, has talked ahead of this weekend's FA Cup clash between Bolton and Cardiff about his Welsh International grandad's connection to both clubs.

Born the fifth of eight children in 1893, Billy played for Romilly School football team as a teenager where he also made appearances for the Wales Schoolboy Team.

From there he was signed by Bolton Wanderers at 19 years old , where he went on to spend the next 18 years, making 267 appearances for the club at full back.

During this time he played against West Ham in Wembley Stadium's first match - the famous "White Horse" FA Cup final of 1923 - and also made 12 appearances for Wales.

His playing career saw him amass two FA Cup winner's medals and also the only Home International Triple Crown Medal.

After his playing career, Billy chose to remain in the game, taking up the role of manager at Notts County before becoming Cardiff City boss in 1937.

His retirement came after a two-year spell as the Bluebirds' manager when he was unceremoniously sacked after completely rebuilding the club that was £12,000 in debt when he took over - not to mention lacking a grandstand and dressing rooms, both destroyed by fire.

Taking the reigns at Cardiff City when the club was at its lowest ebb, he played a crucial part in getting the club promoted, back on its feet and out of debt. However, he became involved in a power struggle with club president Sir Herbert Merrett and instead of receiving praise for his performance he received the sack, leaving Ninian Park with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Grandson Chris, assistant director of Sport at Cardiff Met University, said that this factored into Billy's decision to quit football for good and take up a job as a civil servant in County Hall, Barry.

"My grandmother wanted him to stay at home too," he said. "He would be away for months playing."

Billy continued to enjoy playing sport, competing in golf, bowls and cricket and instilling a love of sport in his children and grandchildren.

Asked why his grandad isn't more renowned, Chris said simply: "Probably because he was a very conservative man."

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