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Millers honour Club Legend

30 November 2014

Read Millers Matchday's tribute to the legend Danny Williams...

AS the giant, framed photograph was placed in front of him, the clock was suddenly turned back 60 years and more.

Danny (surname not necessary) gently tapped the face of a player, then the next one, then another... each time, he named him or used the shortened version, Nobby, Gladdy, full names not required, we all knew who he was referring to. 

Those on this unique photograph include some of Rotherham United's greatest names - names that will, and should, always be remembered and live on although none will live on (and haven't done) longer than the man tapping the photo and naming them... Danny Williams, of course.

The framed photograph was one of the highlights of a special day last week, the 90th birthday, for a very special and treasured Rotherham United legend. And dear old Danny loved it all.

Danny, club appearances record holder and believed to be the oldest surviving former Millers player, celebrated his 90th with a family gathering at a hotel in Hunstanton, North Norfolk and it all begin with the special gift from the club itself.

A delegation from the club, headed by Media Officer Matt Young and club legend John Breckin, had arranged to meet up with Danny and his family in Hunstanton and as Danny unwrapped the photo his eyes lit up.

It was a team photo - but a unique one in one respect - which Matt had had blown up and framed and he and John handed it over.

The original appeared in this match programme for last week's home game showing  Danny along with his Millers teammates before the famous 7-2 FA Cup win at Darlington in November 1950 but not in their playing kit - all were in their civilian clothes, suited and booted. 

Danny went through them... Nobby (Norman Noble), Gladdy (Gladstone Guest), Jack Shaw (who scored five that day at Feethams, still a club record), Jack Grainger, Jimmy Rudd... and on he went. 

"There were some good players on there let me tell you," said Danny, unprompted.  No point arguing, he was most definitely right. 

Danny himself - who would be classed as a midfield player today and an all-action one at that - could have gone to the top flight with Liverpool among those who wanted him but clubs had the say in those days. 

But, by good, he meant very good because those names became revered by Millers fans of the era and although time has marched on and claimed them all except Danny, those names are still fondly remembered generations later for they are a great part of the club's history from its first successful period, in the late 1940s, through to the club's first ever promotion season of 1950/51 up to the second tier, now The Championship. 

A few years later a number, including Danny, were in the side that came heart-breakingly close, within a fraction of a goal, in fact, of going up into the top flight. 

Danny, of course, was a major figure at the club across more than 15 years as a playing regular, amassing 500 appearances in total and, if you add the games during World War Two (which aren't part of official records) he pulled on a Millers shirt more than 620 times.

Then, after finishing in 1960, he continued playing for the reserves as player-coach and also had a spell as manager, taking over at the start of the 1962/63 season and leaving in January 1965 having introduced some excellent local youngsters into a team which played attractive, attacking football.

Alongside him on his 90th, as she has been for a lifetime, was his devoted wife Joyce and they had their own special day just a couple of weeks earlier - they celebrated their Diamond Wedding  anniversary on November 4th.

And the typical, trademark humour that has always marked Danny was quick to surface when Joyce relayed that they were married on a Thursday and on the Friday morning he went off with the Millers for a game at Swansea.

"And we didn't come back 'til the Sunday - but she were waitin'," chuckled Danny with that infectious laugh many older Millers fans will recall.

They now live at Newmarket after living for many years in Bournemouth.

Danny's son Daniel and his wife Alli, along with long-time friend Roy Sealey, were there to welcome the Millers delegation and later on greet a party of Millers fans, headed up by the Nostalgia Society chairman Danny Brailsford (complete with 1950s replica shirt), who had travelled down especially. 

With them were the wives of two former players, Mavis Lambert (wife of Roy who was not well enough to travel) and Nell Farmer, whose husband Terry died recently, with a bunch of flowers for Joyce.

"It's wonderful this," said Danny as he looked again and again at the 64-year-old photo which was taken just five days after his 26th birthday. 

And he reminisced about those far off days when he combined his job as a miner at Silverwood Colliery with football.

"I'd go down t'pit on a Saturday morning and then it would be off to Millmoor to play in the afternoon," he recalled. "They'd let me off Saturday mornings for away games though, it was give and take in those days," he laughed. 

"It's a great gesture by the club to do this and come and present that to my dad," said son Daniel who is hopeful that Danny will be able to come back one weekend to see a game at the New York Stadium.

One thing is for sure - if he did, this most famous footballing son of Rotherham would get a right royal welcome. 

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