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Club News

R.I.P. Clarrie Williams

15 January 2017

The club are saddened to hear of the death of Clarrie Williams just a day or so after his 84th birthday.

Clarrie Williams will always be one of Town's best-remembered goalkeepers.

He was born in County Durham, the son of a miner, and with his father moving pits to the Doncaster area when he was 4 years old, that is where Clarrie, and his younger brother Derek who also played for Town, were raised.

He was recommended to Town by Peter Doherty the Doncaster manager, and after a clean sheet against .... Doncaster .... for the Reserves, he was duly signed.

He made his Town debut away at Crewe on 29th April 1953, when Town won 2-1, picked for the team by Town's then manager Bill Shankly.  From the start of the next season (53-4) he became the regular custodian of Town's goal.  Town were in Division 3 North at this time.

In one remarkable game at Blundell Park that season in the FA Cup 3rd Round, he conceded 5 goals against 2nd Division Fulham ...... but with Town also scoring 5 the game went to a replay!!

The following year Clarrie was in goal for another 3rd Round FA Cup tie against reigning champions of the Football League, Wolverhampton Wanderers when almost 26,000 fans squeezed into the packed Blundell Park, but this time, although Town took the lead, they couldn't hold on, and Wolves ran out comfortable winners.  At the end of the league season, Town had to apply for re-election, being just one place above Chester at the bottom of the basement.

However, the following season couldn't have been more different, and Clarrie set a club record that hasn't ever been beaten!  The first four games only yielded one win (6-1 v Chester), but then the superb Clarrie became almost impregnable at the back of the Town defence.  Only one defeat occurred in the next 17 games, and Clarrie's "goals conceded" column for those read: 0, 0, 2, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 3 (a 4-3 victory at York!) 1, 0, 0, 1, 0.  After 3 straight defeats, including one in the FA Cup, Town got on the winning streak again, losing just once in the final 17 games of the season.  Clarrie's goals conceded for this 17-match run read ..... 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, ..... now watch this!!! - 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 !!!  Town won the league with two games to spare in front of 23,000 at Blundell Park against Southport.  The only team EVER to go from re-election to promotion in one season.  And Clarrie set a record of only conceding 29 league goals all season!

By the second season in Division 2, Town's line-up took on a classic look.  A long remembered team in Mariners lore.....
Clarrie Williams, Bill Brown, Dave Richardson, Dick Conner, Roy Player, Jeff Whitefoot, Johnny Scott, Gerry Priestley, Ron Rafferty, Billy Evans and Jimmy Fell.

What a team!

Clarrie was injured on the opening day of the 57-8 season when Town beat Leyton Orient 7-2, and didn't return until 16th November.  A month later, he took part in another record-breaking Mariners match that was broadcast on the radio from half-time onwards (only one game made it to the radio in those days!).  Eastville - Bristol Rovers 0, Town 7!  The biggest away win Town have ever had!  Another match of note was on Christmas Day when the Mariners beat Liverpool at Blundell Park (losing at Anfield the following day).

Coincidentally, Clarrie was injured on the opening day of the following season at Anfield, when Town drew with Liverpool, 3-3.

Clarrie's final game for the Mariners came on 19th September 1959 in a home draw with Tranmere.

However, that wasn't the last job that the Mariners had in line for the gentle Clarrie.  After a spell at Barnsley, he returned to assist George Higgins, and as well as first team duties, he managed the Juniors and even turned out as an outfield player for the Reserves!  He also coached the highly successful Grimsby Police team, worked for Courtaulds, and captained his local golf club.

Clarrie was loved by everyone who met him, and he will be sadly missed.

But when people remember that team of legends from the fifties, Clarrie will always be number one!


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