Newton-born, Willis Edwards began playing at right-half with his local Newton Rangers side. £10 spent in February 1922 bought Chesterfield the services of a player who, four years later, would play for England. Although the eighteen year-old was full of promise, The Spireites must claim credit for helping him realise this promise through their careful handling and development of his raw talent. Having nicked him from under the noses of Blackburn Rovers, they did not rush him on, and were prepared to rest him when it would have been easy to put the team's interests first and keep playing him. Edwards quickly developed into a strong, thoughtful halfback and scouts came to watch him long before he was sold to Leeds for £1500 in March 1925, smashing Chesterfield's record for a fee received.
A little over a year after leaving Saltergate, Edwards made his England debut: he played a further fifteen times for his country and captained England on five occasions. He developed remarkable ball control, fine heading skills and became a master of the long, pinpoint pass. For a long time, Leeds fans would talk of one match where, instead of heading out of defence, Edwards performed a handstand and backheeled the ball away.
Edwards joined Leeds' coaching staff upon retiring from playing and served as their manager for a year in 1947. The side narrowly avoided relegation to Division Three that season, though, and Willis relinquished managerial control to return to the coaching staff, where he continued to serve for another ten years. After Leeds and football decided that there was no place for Edwards, he found employment in a jam factory. What chance the Gerrards and Lampards of this world having to fill pots of Golden Shred to make ends meet, nowadays?
For Chesterfield: 70 Football League appearances, 1 goal.