record appearance holder, Ray Gill, died in Rochdale
on September 17th 2001. He was 76.
Ray was born in Manchester on December
8th 1924 and joined Manchester City in 1941. He made
his Football League debut against Wolves, in April
1949 and went on to make eight appearances for Manchester
In June 1951 Frank Brown signed Ray
for Chester, along with his City colleague Bill Jones,
and both players made their debuts in an opening day
victory against rivals Wrexham. Ray was on target in
the 2-1 victory, one of only three goals he scored
in his 406 appearances for the club.
A whole-hearted and enthusiastic
left back, Ray was a stalwart in the Chester defence
for more than ten years and in his first six seasons
only missed eight games. At the start of the 1954/55
season strict economies at the club led manager, Louis
Page, to experiment with Ray at centre forward. Although
the switch proved unsuccessful it was indicative of
Rays loyalty to the club that he was prepared
to accept this unfamiliar role when his unflappability
was more suited to a defensive position.
In 1957 Ray turned part-time and
took a job as a salesman. Over the next two seasons
he shared the right back position with Bill Souter
but, in something of an Indian summer, made 43 appearances
for Chester in the 1959/60 season. Ray made his final
league appearance for the club, on May 1st 1962, in
a 2-0 defeat at Carlisle United. His loyalty to the
club was recognised by the award of two testimonial
games in 1956 and 1962.
After leaving Chester, Ray
joined Hyde United and also briefly played for Altrincham
and Winsford United. For many years he worked for
Freddie Pye, a familiar football figure in the Manchester
area, in his scrap metal dealership. He also helped
teach football to youngsters in Wythenshawe where
he lived for most of his life.