Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Rest in Peace Ray Wilkins

Terribly sad to hear that Ray Wilkins has died following a heart attack. I was dragged to Stamford Bridge as a young boy for a number of seasons by my Old Man. Given my tender years, I always struggled to see the game from his favourite vantage point to the far left of the Shed but I always had couple of quarters of sweets to help pass the game away and after Bobby Tambling I got to see the wizard Peter Osgood for a few seasons. 

After my parents divorced I continued to make the journey across London by bus, often on my own or with a few school-mates. I went to nearly every home game in 1976-77 (and when I wasn't there, I was at the Valley) when former-Blue, Eddie McCreadie, steered Chelsea back to the old First Division (I was 13). My clearest memories of that season were the contributions of Ray "Butch" Wilkins and Gary Stanley. Two good looking lads with long dark hair and bags of talent. Wilkins was the heart-beat of the side and an inspirational young captain, He was destined for the top of the game although it was always something of a disappointment for me to see him playing so relatively negatively for Manchester United and England when he had been so swashbuckling and adventurous at the Bridge. I always assumed that he had simply been coached more progressively not to risk losing the ball but it came at a cost.

He was decent bloke, Ray, and it came across whenever he was interviewed or commentating on TV. He always seemed to be in work throughout the game and it's a shock to see him dead at only 61 as a consequence of a heart-attack. I will always have the image of him driving through the middle of the Stamford Bridge pitch and looking to find Steve Finnieston.

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