Plymouth Argyle - Where Are They Now - Wilf Carter
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Where Are They Now - Wilf Carter

Peverell Green delves further back into Argyle history for the latest installment of his 'Where Are They Now' series and takes a look at the career of Pilgrims' Legend Wilf Carter.

WILF CARTER - Born 4th October 1933, Wednesbury.

Wilf started his football career at his local club West Brom at the age of 18 spending six seasons at the club, during that time he made 57 appearances scoring 12 goals.
A lack of opportunities meant when the opportunity came he was happy to move to the Westcountry.

At the start of the 1957-58 season when he joined the club Argyle were playing in Division 3 South, with the Northern and Southern clubs not meeting in league matches until the following season.
Throughout his Argyle career he proved to be a prolific goalscorer, topping the scoring charts for six consecutive seasons.
He scored his first goal for the club on 14th September in a 1-0 win over Millwall at Home Park.

His first hat trick came on 7th December 1957 in a in a 5-2 home win over Dorchester in the second round of the FA Cup, he didn`t have to wait long for his second only a week later he got another three in 4-0 home win over Coventry, a further hat trick followed in his debut season this time against QPR on February 15th 1958 in a 3-0 home win. To go with his three in the second round of the cup he also scored twice in the first round and once in the third.
When you consider Simon Walton was our leading scorer last season with eight goals, half of those penalties, and Wilf got six in the FA Cup alone.
His total for the season was 32 from 47 appearances.

As well as Division 3 being divided into North and South, 1957-58 was the last season clubs played on Christmas Day with the reverse fixture taking place on Boxing Day, Argyle played Newport away on the 25th winning 2-0 and the following day won again 1-0 with Wilf scoring the winner in front of a crowd of 25,936.
Another strange one for the season happened in the last three games. On 19th April Argyle won 2-1 at home with Carter and Baker scoring, on the 21st they lost 3-2 at home with Carter and Baker scoring, then in the final game of the season on the 26th they won 2-1 away and once again Carter and Baker were the scorers.
Gates for the season averaged 19,072 with 23,418 watching Argyle beat Exeter 1-0 and 23,756 saw a similar scoreline against Torquay, Argyle played nine games in front of more than 20,000 spectators, in only one of their away games, against Norwich, did the crowd go over 20,000. Argyle finished the season in third place.

The 1958-59 season once again saw Wilf regularly putting the ball in the net.
He scored another hat trick, this time against Mansfield in a 4-1 away win. He scored 25 goals in 48 appearances helping Argyle to win the league.
Seventeen of the gates topped 20,000 with the Boxing Day game against QPR attracting 30,036 and even that was bettered in a FA Cup game against Cardiff with 36,247 turning up.
In 1959-60 he had a quiet season by his standards only scoring 22 goals from 37 appearances, but he had moved up a division with Argyle now playing in Division 2 (today's Championship), what would a 22 goal a season man be worth now.

1960-61 saw him once again return to his goalscoring best.
A hat-trick against Leeds on 6th March in a 3-1 home win was bettered when Argyle had played Charlton on 27th December.
They had played at the Valley the day before and were beaten by Charlton 6-4, what a difference 24 hours made, not only was the fixture reversed but so was the score, Argyle won 6-4 with Wilf scoring five of the goals in front of 23,335 fans.
He finished up with 28 goals from 42 appearances. In only four seasons he had scored 107 goals for the club.

1961-62 saw Wilf score a further 20 goals in 37 appearances, no mean feat in a division that included the likes of current Premier teams Southampton, Newcastle, Stoke, Sunderland, Liverpool and Norwich.
The FA Cup proved to be the highlight of the season with Wilf scoring the first goal in a 3-0 home win over West Ham, this set up a home fourth round tie against the then glamour boys of English football, Tottenham Hotspur, unfortunately the 40,040 crowd couldn't roar Argyle on to a win with the Londoners winning 5-1.

1962-63 saw the now 29-year old Wilf notch his final hat trick for the club in the 6-1 demolition at home to Charlton.
He finished the season with 14 goals from 31 appearances.
1962-63 was his last season at the club with his final goal coming in a 1-1 draw away to Grimsby; he played his last game for the club on 31st March 1964 at Swansea in a 2-1 defeat.
He scored 7 goals in 33 appearances.

In only seven seasons Wilf scored an incredible 148 goals making him the second highest goalscorer in the history of the club.
When you consider those 148 goals came in only 275 appearances, what would we give now for a striker who could score a goal in every other game? When you read the reports of the day he wasn't even considered to have great technical ability, he was described as an opportunist who would try his luck at every chance, shooting from any distance.

Not ready to give up professional football in 1964 he moved to Exeter for two seasons making 48 appearances scoring 6 goals.

In 1966 he made his last move, joining Bath City, where he finally saw out his football career, retiring in 1970 at the age of 37 after playing 210 games scoring 46 goals.

I wasn't able to find out what happened to Wilf after he finished with football in 1970, there are no reports of his death so I can only assume he is living in retirement at the age of 78, either in the Midlands, his birthplace, or the Westcountry, where he spent the majority of his playing career.
If anyone has any information on what happened to him or actually saw him play I would be interested in hearing from them by email at

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Peverell Green Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday September 25 2012

Time: 8:57AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Most Argyle fans know what a legend Wilf Carter is. I wish I had seen him play.
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25/09/2012 14:16:00


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