A commemorative cigarette box, handed to a wartime Blues boss, is expected to fetch around £1,000 when it goes under the hammer in London next week.

William “Big Bill” Camkin was the man credited with rescuing Birmingham City after it was bombed during the Second World War on January 21, 1942.

Football historians credit Camkin with saving the club, and Blues’ players and staff clubbed together to buy the silver trinket, made in the city’s Jewellery Quarter, in May 1946.

It is inscribed: “Presented to W.A. Camkin Esq,by the players and trainers of Birmingham City FC in appreciation of his untiring efforts on their behalf.”

The cigarette box, a reminder of how the club went up in smoke but then rose up from the ashes, will go under the hammer at Graham Budd Auctions, being held at Sotheby’s Olympia in London on November 12.

Tony Matthews, a Blues historian, said: “Throughout the Second World War, Bill Camkin was honorary managing director of Birmingham. He looked after team affairs and took charge of running the club in association with Sam Richards. Camkin allowed trainer, George Blackburn, the former Aston Villa player, to organise training and the match-day build up.

“Blackburn did an excellent job in difficult times but Camkin’s efforts will never be forgotten. He steered the club throughout the war and kept the flag flying, despite German bombing of St Andrew’s and a fire which destroyed the Main Stand, along with many of his personal belongings.

“His efforts to keep the Birmingham club were appreciated by everyone: players and supporters alike.”

Camkin was finally forced to quit as a club director, due to ill health, in 1951.

He died five years later, in April 1956 at his home in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. His son John Camkin, a journalist and broadcaster, went on to become a director of  Coventry City and secretary of the League Managers’ Association.

But Camkin’s cigarette box is not the only Birmingham football treasure up for sale next month.

The number five Aston Villa shirt worn by Jmmy Dugdale in the very first Football League Cup final, in 1961, is also expected to fetch up to £1,000 at the same auction.

Mr Dugdale, who died on February 26 at the age of 76, was one of Villa’s captains and all time greats. He won FA Cup winners’ medals with West Bromwich Albion against Preston in 1954, and with Aston Villa against Manchester United in 1957.

He also won a Second Division Championship medal in 1960 with Villa, and helped them become the first club to win the Football League Cup, by beating Rotherham 3-2 on aggregate, in the 1961 two-legged final.

Dugdale joined Aston Villa from Albion in January 1956 in a £25,000 transfer deal which may not sound like a lot now, but then it was possible to buy 10 decent houses in Birmingham as the average British house cost just £2,280.

When injury forced him to quit football Dugdale became a publican, running pubs in Aston, Halesowen and Moseley. In 1990, he had to have a leg amputated, and his remaining leg was also amputated later on.