5 August

Dr Robert Herbert Mills-Roberts, Wales and Preston North End goalkeeper, was born on this day in 1862.

Born in Penmachno, near Betws-y-Coed, Mills-Roberts played rugby and association football while a student at Friars School, Bangor, and University college, Aberystwyth.

He moved to London to study to become a surgeon at St Thomas’ in 1882, and while playing as a goalkeeper for the hospital, Mills-Roberts was chosen to play for Wales, winning his first cap against England in 1885.

Despite standing at only 5’8" in height, Mills-Roberts had a reputation as a fearless goalkeeper, once playing for Wales against England in 1887 despite both his wrists being in plaster and having splints up to his elbows.

He combined his job as a surgeon with appearances in goal for St Thomas’ hospital, the combined London hospitals and many other amateur sides including the Casuals, the Corinithians, the Crusaders and Barnes.

Mills-Roberts was invited to play for Preston North End in the FA Cup yn 1887 as Jim Trainer, their regular goalkeeper, was a professional and therefore ineligible to play in the competition.

This was the famous team of the ‘Invicibles’ who went 44 games without a loss during the league season, but Preston lost 2-1 to West Brom in the final, with Mills-Roberts noting that the team looked stale after a long season.

Two years later in 1889, Mills-Roberts won the FA Cup with North End, beating Wolves 3-0 in the final and without conceding a single goal in the competition.

He moved back to North Wales in 1890 to become surgeon at the hospital of Dinorwig slate quarry and retired from football.

However, he was persuaded to play one last game for Wales in 1892 against England, the last of his 8 caps.

Mills-Roberts worked as a surgeon at Dinorwig and in medical services in north Wales for the rest of his career and served in the British Army at the Boer War and First World War.

He died at a nursing home in 1935, after a lifetime of service to the medical profession and a glittering amateur football career.