William Mitchell was born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, on 22nd November 1910. He played for Cliftonville and Distillery where he won his first international cap. Mitchell was purchased by Chelsea for £2,000 in June 1933.
According to Tony Matthews (Who's Who of Chelsea): "Mitchell was a terrier in the tackle, strong and positive despite his small frame. Occasionally in trouble with the referee, he nevertheless always gave a terrific display out on the field."
On 1st February 1936, Sunderland played Chelsea at Roker Park. According to newspaper reports it was a particularly ill-tempered game and Mitchell was sent off. The visiting forwards appeared to be targeting the Sunderland goalkeeper, Jimmy Thorpe, who took a terrible battering during the match.
As a result of the battering he had received, Jimmy Thorpe was admitted to the local Monkwearmouth and Southwick Hospital suffering from broken ribs and a badly bruised head. Thorpe had also suffered a recurrence of a diabetic condition that he had been treated for two years earlier. Thorpe died of diabetes mellitus and heart failure on 9th February, 1936. Thorpe, who was only 22 years old, left a wife and young son.
Mitchell scored 3 goals in 117 games before the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war Mitchell played for Bath City.
William Mitchell died in Belfast in 1978.
Following our 3 - 3 draw with Chelsea on 1st February, one of the dailies reported that "Atrocious goalkeeping cost Sunderland a point". The goalkeeping referred to was that of James Thorpe; four days later, he died, baring sustained injuries to both his ribs and his face, the latter resulting in a very swollen eye. In a rough game that saw Chelsea's right half Mitchell being given his marching orders, Thorpe had sustained serious injuries that brought his life to an untimely end. At the subsequent inquest it was revealed that Jimmy suffered from diabetes and took insulin regularly He had fallen into a diabetic coma and the official cause of death was given as both diabetes mellitus and heart failure.
Mitchell was a terrier in the tackle, strong and positive despite his small frame. Occasionally in trouble with the referee, he nevertheless always gave a terrific display out on the field.