OVF is delighted to welcome Vale legend Ray Williams who will be writing a regular blog for this website.
In this first issue, Ray tells us about how he came to join the Valiants and how he actually ended up earning less if the Vale won…
In the spring of 1971, Madeley College were playing St John’s College of York in the Northern Area Final of the British Colleges Cup at Vale Park. Gordon Lee came into the dressing room before the game and advised us to make the ball do the work as it was a big pitch and if we ran with it we would soon get tired.
We won 7-0 and I scored all seven goals, twice dribbling from the half-way line with the ball. He came into the dressing room after the final whistle, looked me in the eye and just shook his head, smiled and walked out. He didn’t say a word.
Twelve months later, after a season with Stafford Rangers when we won everything in sight he sent Roy Sproston to see me at Berry Hill Hill School where I was just finishing my first year as a maths teacher. “Gordon Lee wants to know if you want to be a professional footballer?” were his exact words. I thought for a while and said that I was almost 26 years old and a bit too old. He phoned Gordon Lee from the school office and told him my thoughts.
A week later I rang Gordon Lee to tell him that I had changed my mind and that I was keen to give it a go. £3,000 sealed the deal. I was paid £45 per week which was a fiver more than anybody else. What I didn’t know was that the others were on £10 per point and I was only on £5 per point. When we lost I was up. When we won I was down. Gordon Lee was a crafty manager alright.
I did no pre-season training that year. I made my debut on the first game of the season at Rochdale where we earned a 0-0 draw.The lads made me welcome and a few friends were formed in The Vale Cafe.
Next week I will tell you who they were!
About the author: Ray Williams was a Vale player for five years in the 1970s and then Vale’s chief scout for twenty one years. He is currently a co-commentator on BBC Radio Stoke. These are his personal views.