Tributes paid to ex-Chelsea winger
- Credit: Archant
TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Chelsea FC player from Letchworth GC who died at the age of 82 last week.
Ray Kitchener, who battled Parkinson’s disease, died at Benslow Nursing Home in Hitchin. He was a member of the Hitchin Town team that finished runners-up in the Athenian League and reached the FA Amateur Cup quarter finals in 1953-54.
Ray, who worked as an engineer at the British Tabulating Machine Company in Letchworth GC, joined the Canaries in 1952, but was signed by Chelsea in 1955 after he was approached by then Blues manager Ted Drake, who told him he was being watched while playing for Hitchin.
Mr Drake offered to take the Letchworth GC-born winger on a club tour of North America to give him an insight into the game at a professional level.
Following the tour Ray was signed by Chelsea for two years.
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The father-of-one, who played left wing throughout his football career, picked up a Football Combination winners’ medal and played with Bobby Smith, later to win the league and cup double with Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham Hotspur side.
During his time at Chelsea, he played only one League Division One game alongside the likes of England centre forward Roy Bentley.
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He moved on to Norwich City in 1957 before winding down his career in the Eastern Counties League and going back to his job as an engineer.
His wife Pam said: “Ray had been unwell for some time, but he was a loving husband and loved football. He watched all the games, but never supported just one team.”
The 82-year-old said: “He enjoyed playing other sports like cricket and golf and his hobby was making furniture from scratch.”
Former Hitchin team mate Derek Castle said: “Ray was a very humorous person. I knew him from school and we both went to Pixmore School in Letchworth GC.”
Ray also attended Hillshott Primary School in Letchworth GC.