Ray Williams (footballer, born 1946)
|Full name||Raymond Williams|
|Date of birth||30 August 1946|
|Place of birth||Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|1978–1980||Northwich Victoria (player-manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).|
Starting his career at Stoke City, he did not make a first team appearance and so moved on to Stafford Rangers, and also worked as a teacher. He helped Rangers to lift the FA Trophy in 1972 and to top the Northern Premier League in 1971–72, before he returned to the Football League with Port Vale in July 1972. He scored 40 goals in 194 appearances for the club over the next five years, and was given the club's Player of the Year award in 1972–73. He returned to the non-league scene with Northwich Victoria in March 1977, and was appointed as the club's manager the following year. He achieved massive success with the club, winning the Cheshire Senior Cup and Staffordshire Senior Cup twice, the Alliance Premier League Cup once, and also picking up runner-up medals in the Northern Premier League, Northern Premier League Challenge Cup, and Cheshire Senior Cup. He returned to Port Vale in 1980, and worked there as a chief scout until 2011. He became a commentator at BBC Radio Stoke in August 2011.
Williams played youth team football for Stoke City before joining non-league Stafford Rangers under manager Roy Chapman. He helped the club lift the FA Trophy in 1972 as they defeated Barnet 3–0 at Wembley. His 47 goals also helped the club to the Northern Premier League title in 1971–72.
He was signed by Port Vale in July 1972 for a £3,000 fee, and left his teaching career behind to become a professional player. He soon slotted into Gordon Lee's Third Division side, and with 11 goals in 49 games in 1972–73 he was the club's joint-top scorer, along with Sammy Morgan. For this performances he was also named as the club's Player of the Year. In 1973–74 he bagged nine goals in 43 games, as the club flirted with relegation.
He hit fourteen goals in 1974–75, becoming the club's joint-top scorer, along with Terry Bailey. The "Valiants" missed out on promotion by four points. However Williams lost his scoring touch after being moved to the wings in 1975–76, and after going on a 21 game goal drought he posted a total of three goals in 34 games. Though together with his strike partners Derek Brownbill and Mick Cullerton the Vale front-line hit a total of 33 goals.
In 1976–77 he came off the bench against Hull City at Boothferry Park in the FA Cup, and set up Ken Beamish for Vale's equalising goal. The team continued the run until a Fifth Round defeat to Aston Villa at Villa Park. He was in the fifteen man matchday squad for the Villa game, but he and Tommy McLaren did not receive the £100 bonus that the other thirteen players did. Williams was so disgusted he walked out on the club, and in March 1977 he was sold on to Northwich Victoria for 'a small fee'. He scored a total of 40 goals in 194 appearances for the Vale, in all competitions.
Northwich were then in the Northern Premier League, and finished the 1976–77 campaign in second place behind Boston United, also winning the Cheshire Senior Cup. Victoria finished seventh in 1977–78 and reached the final of the Cheshire Senior Cup, and Williams was appointed the club's manager. He took the club to a tenth place finish in 1978–79, and also managed the club to the final of the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup at Maine Road, where they were defeated 3–0 by Mossley; Victoria also reached the final of the Cheshire Senior Cup and Staffordshire Senior Cup, and were victorious in both games. Victoria competed in the inaugural season of the Alliance Premier League (later to become the Conference National) in 1979–80, and Williams led them to an eighth place finish, as well as victory in the Alliance Premier League Cup final over Altrincham, and another Staffordshire Senior Cup final win. He left the club following this success.
Williams was appointed Vale's chief scout in September 1980, he resigned in November 1994 after being told he had to pay admission fees at Vale Park. He then took up a scouting role at Wolves, but after making up with Vale he once again became Chief Scout there. He is credited with discovering talents such as Robbie Earle, Mark Bright and Ian Taylor. He lost his job again in the 2002–03 season after the club entered Administration; though he later was re-hired once finances were more stable. The club announced that his contract would not be renewed beyond June 2011, partly due to Williams' decision to back prospective investor Mo Chaudry over existing chairman Bill Bratt.
Williams married medical practitioner Linda, and had three children.
In November 2009, he was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. He worked his treatment at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire around his commitments to Port Vale. He underwent radiotherapy treatment through the of summer 2010, and was given the all-clear in September 2010.
- with Stafford Rangers
- with Northwich Victoria
- Northern Premier League runner-up: 1976–77
- Cheshire Senior Cup winner: 1977 & 1979
- Cheshire Senior Cup runner-up: 1978
- Staffordshire Senior Cup winner: 1979 & 1980
- Northern Premier League Challenge Cup runner-up: 1979
- Alliance Premier League Cup runner-up: 1980
- "Mystery Sportsman: Stoke City player was first to score in cup final". The Sentinel. 18 April 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
- Kent, Jeff (1990). The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. p. 305. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7.
- Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 325. ISBN 0-9508981-6-3.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 312. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
- "Mystery sportsman: Port Vale striker with a lifelong commitment to the club". The Sentinel. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- "Vale axe Grew". BBC Sport. 18 December 2002. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- Steve Shaw (17 May 2011). "Port Vale: Veteran Williams to leave club after backing Chaudry takeover". The Sentinel. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- "Port Vale: Williams determined to beat cancer". The Sentinel. 13 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- "Port Vale: Scout Williams reveals cancer battle". The Sentinel. 13 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- "Port Vale scout Ray Williams battling back from cancer". BBC Sport. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
- Shaw, Steve (7 July 2010). "Port Vale: Positive Williams eyes role on return from cancer fight". Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- Shaw, Steve (22 September 2010). "Port Vale: Club stalwart Ray Williams wins cancer battle". The Sentinel. Retrieved 22 September 2010.