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Danny Williams - Happy Birthday

19 November 2014

THE accompanying picture on this page - a pretty unique 'team pic' in a way as they are all in their 'civvies' - includes some of the legendary names in the club's history.

You don't have to be old enough to have seen them play to know that. They were from a halcyon period in the club's history and games and deeds, not to mention hundreds and hundreds of appearances for many of them, confirm it.

But one might just stand out from the rest and you don't have to do any other than mention just his christian name. The surname isn't required. 

Example? When a long-time Millers fan was shown this pic he began reeling off the names... Jack Shaw, Jack Grainger, Gladstone Guest... Danny.  

He never mentioned his surname. Didn't need to. 

Everybody with a lengthy Rotherham United connection knows what Danny is short for. Rather like the modern era. Anybody talks about Ronnie and everybody knows it's Ronnie Moore.

So Danny is... Danny Williams, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday, and is the only survivor from that remarkable picture.

It is believed to have be taken at a hotel in Darlington either before or after Rotherham's famous 7-2 win in the first round of the FA Cup in November 1950 - a game in which Jack Shaw scored FIVE, an individual tally never equalled let along bettered.

Danny is certainly a legend and not just because he is the club's record holder for appearances, just a handful short of 500 but should anyone take into account his games for the club during the latter years of World War Two then you'd be talking of over 600.

Danny was working as a miner at Silverwood Colliery when he joined the Millers in 1943 having discontinued training at Sheffield United on a couple of evenings because this entailed him walking back to his home at Dalton due to war-time bus services finishing at 9pm. 

By the time normal League football resumed in 1946, Danny was first choice for the Millers and was to make the left half shirt (No 6) his own although, in the famous 1950/51 season when the club secured its first ever promotion, he wore No 8.

In view of his mining background, he was a player of strength and stamina and would be regarded as an all-action midfield player today. He was a committed Miller who gave 100% effort game in, game out.

In keeping with those times, he worked down the pit with blokes who were Millers fans and travelled to home games by public transport, often with fans going to cheer him on. A man of the people indeed. 

So, a local hero but also a fine player. A number of top clubs wanted to sign him, including Liverpool, but your own club had the final say in those days and despite the interest, Danny remained with the Millers.

A great character and a real, lively personality with a big sense of humour, Danny was a regular for well over a decade and a great favourite. 

His 'official' career began in 1946 (his part-time career as miner and footballer continued until 1952) and ended in 1960, one of his final games being the epic second replay of the FA Cup, third round tie against Arsenal at Hillsborough when the Millers won 2-0 in front of over 56,000 and Danny played 'a blinder'.

After a spell as player-coach with the Reserves, he became Millers manager for three years before leaving having built a young, exciting side only to see some of those stars sold.

He then managed Swindon Town and became revered in the Wiltshire town after a fantastic season in 1968/69 which saw them, as a Third Division (League One) team, beat Arsenal in the League Cup Final at Wembley whilst gaining promotion and also winning the Anglo-Italian Cup, a triple which saw many clubs bid to get him. 

Sheffield Wednesday succeeded but with financial constraints he was sacked two years later.

After managing Mansfield, Danny returned to Swindon in 1974 and remained there for 11 years latterly as general manager. 

It is hard to argue against the notion that Danny is Rotherham's most famous footballing son!


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