SUNDERLAND’S penalty king has died.
Dave Wilkinson earned the nickname during his years playing for teams including Blackburn Rovers, Bournemouth and Berwick.
The inside left came from a mining family – his father moved to Ryhope from Pegswood in Northumberland to help sink the Ryhope Pit – and his uncles and brother were all miners.
Dave’s first shoes were football boots, and successful stints with Silksworth Juniors and Durham County boys soon saw him attracting the attention of scouts before National Service intervened.
Dave, who was 83 when he died, spent his period in the forces playing football for the RAF in Northern Ireland, before taking his father’s advice and signing for Rovers.
The RAF allowed him to be demobbed a couple of weeks early in order to take up Blackburn’s offer in 1947.
“His dad’s advice was to move away because a team that was paying for his accommodation was more likely to play him,” said daughter Carol.
Dave moved to Bournemouth after two years, where his performances brought him to the attention of Spanish giants Valencia, but he opted to stay on home soil to care for wife Olive, who had suffered a miscarriage.
In 1952, he joined Berwick, training with the Sunderland squad during the week – where he began a lifelong friendship with SAFC star Jimmy McNab – and travelling up to the borders for matches.
His professional career was ended when he collided with an opposing goalkeeper and broke his leg in three places.
“Dad was known as the penalty king because he never missed,” said son Gary.
“He scored 48 penalties consecutively, missed the 49th and never took another.”
Retiring from the professional game, Dave joined Thorn AEI and became a general foreman, but never lost his love of sport.
He turned out for football teams across the region, including Ashington, Gateshead and Horden and continued an obsession with golf that had begun at Berwick.
Joining Houghton Golf Club in the 50s, he became captain in 1964 and won the Shields, Greenshields and Dawson Cups before moving to Seaham, where he twice served as captain and was chairman of the invitation-only 24 club and social secretary.
“Dad’s whole life was dedicated to sport, either participating or just enjoying watching or sitting having a drink with friends,” said Carol.
Dave leaves Olive, Carol, Gary and another son David and numerous grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at Sunderland Crematorium at 1pm on January 20.