Life of Bert Trautmann who played at St Helens Town featured in new film

A feature film about the life and times of legendary Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, who played with a broken neck for the final 15 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup final against Birmingham City, will hit the big screen in April - and will be of great interest to sports lovers of a certain age in St Helens.

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 9:54 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:10 pm
Players gather round the goal mouth as Manchester City's goalie, Bert Trautmann, receives medical attention to his neck, during the FA cup final against Birmingham City at Wembley

Bert, who was a German prisoner of war at nearby Ashton-in-Makerfield, declined repatriation at the end of hostilities and took his first step in what was the beginning of a journey to the pinnacle of English football when he joined Liverpool County Combination side St Helens Town in 1948.

Subsequently, he married Margaret Friar who was the daughter of the club secretary and also headed the Friars Tyres business locally.

Bert was the talk of the town during his early days at Hoghton Road,producing some amazing feats in between the sticks and almost single-handily made the turnstiles click merrily, which included a record 9,000 crowd for the final of the George Mahon Cup.

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Success led to the club being promoted to the second division of the Lancashire Combination but Football League scouts had already become aware of the blond-haired goalkeeper's reputation and in 1949 he joined Manchester City.

As a German paratrooper and at one-time a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, he suffered some abuse on signing but soon won over the Maine Road fans and his crowning glory came in that 1956 Wembley showdown when the Sky Blues triumphed 3-1.

But the real drama came after the match when medical experts revealed that Bert could have died had he received another knock on his neck.

Having seen him in action twice - once against my local non-league club Burscough and then again at Everton - I can vouch for his outstanding ability as the last line of defence.

He is also the only goalkeeper I've ever seen live who for 90 minutes against the Toffees threw the ball out every single time to a team-mate when it was in his hands - something he mastered after playing basketball back home.

The film, which is entitled The Keeper, is not entirely centred around his soccer and vividly tells the story of his pre-war days in Germany and the tragedy he and his first wife, Margaret, suffered when their first-born son, John, died in a car accident a few months after the 1956 FA Cup Final.

Trautmann said at the time Margaret had struggled to come to terms with the loss and it ultimately resulted in the break-up of their marriage.He wed twice more before passing away in 2013 at the age of 89.