Friday, March 17, 2017

When Ray Wilkins was Butch Wilkins and a genius

 Here is Richard Williams as quoted on this blog back in 2009:
Ray Wilkins was 18 years old when Eddie McCreadie gave him the captaincy of Chelsea back in 1975, with the team newly relegated to the old Second Division. The fresh-faced teenager was succeeding Ron "Chopper" Harris, the most gnarled of veterans. 
To outsiders it seemed as though McCreadie was taking an outrageous chance. But Wilkins's precocious calmness and football intelligence made him a superb captain of a side that mixed a few old stagers – Peter Bonetti, David Webb, Charlie Cooke, Ian Hutchinson – with a lot of much younger players, and two years later they were back in the top flight. 
I saw Wilkins in one of his early first‑team appearances, before McCreadie made him captain, and what I saw persuaded me that it was worth making a special effort to watch him regularly. With no allegiance – prior or subsequent – to Chelsea I bought a Stamford Bridge season ticket for those two seasons in the Second Division and got value for my money (£50, all told, for a good seat in the then‑new West Stand) from his performances alone ...
In his Chelsea years Wilkins showed himself to be as good a manipulator of the ball as any English footballer I can remember, including Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney.
The video above will give you an idea of what he means. And he had hair.

It was a great shame that Chelsea were unable to keep Wilkins. Instead he was sold to Manchester United and did the fetching and carrying for Bryan Robson.

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