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Club News


3 November 2016

We were saddened today to learn of the death of former Rovers player Ray Mabbutt, who passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack on Sunday.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

The following details of Ray’s football career has been compiled by Stephen Byrne

b. 13.3.1936 Aylesbury d. 2.11.2016 Bristol
5’ 6”; 11 st WH
Début: 4.9.57 v Derby County

Career: Aylesbury Electricity
August 1953 Aylesbury United
May 1954 Oxford City (trial)
21.8.54 Spennymoor United
August 1955 Yorkshire Amateurs
1955 Bristol Rovers (professional, 11.8.56) [392 + 3, 27]
9.9.69 Newport County (free) [38 + 6, 14]
21.7.71 Trowbridge Town
17.7.72 Bath City
7.3.75 Clevedon Town
1.10.76 Frome Town (player/coach)
August 1977 Mangotsfield United
7.4.78 Clevedon Town (player/manager)
August 1980 Keynsham Town
1984 Harptree United (to 1985).
Reliable wing half, loyal club servant and talented footballer Ray Mabbutt enjoyed a long and successful career at Eastville. 

Having represented Berkshire and Buckinghamshire at youth level and West Riding whilst in the Army, he played in military football alongside Eddie Colman, Albert Quixall and Tom Finney before joining Rovers for £9 per week. 

He proved to be an exceptional signing, for he was still performing to a high standard over a decade later, having served the club through the majority of the glory years in Division Two and, following relegation in 1962, the seasons of re-establishing the side in third tier football. A solid, dependable wing half, Mabbutt was an ever present in 1959/60 and held together the half back line with wisdom, strength and skill. 

Versatile, he played in goal after Howard Radford had left the field against Swansea in February 1961 and after Bernard Hall’s horrific injury against Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve 1966; he was also used as a centre forward, when Rovers visited Northampton in October 1967 and responded with a hat trick in an astonishing 5-4 victory, Frank Large adding three of his own for the home side. 

Fair on the field and a genuine sportsman, Mabbutt was awarded the Harry Bamford Trophy for Sportsmanship in 1964 65. Once a coach for Clifton Rugby Club, Mabbutt played in Division Four for Newport, contributing a brace of goals in the 5-1 victory over Bradford Park Avenue in November 1969, scored 11 goals in 48 matches with Trowbridge, captained Frome from his début in a 3-2 victory over Barnstaple in October 1976 and was still playing for West Harptree at the age of 47. By this stage, his second son Gary, who had left Rovers for Spurs, was already in the England side. 

Ray Mabbutt was the son of Robert Frank Mabbutt (1911-82) and Annie Toms (1911-99), Robert being the son of Alfred John Mabbutt (1879-1955) and Mary Ann Norman (1883-1934), Alfred re-marrying Katherine Worth in 1944.

Ray married Avis Blake in Aylesbury in 1957 and they had three sons who were brought up in Dormer Road, next to the Eastville Stadium, Kevin of Bristol City, Gary of Rovers, and Philip, who died at the age of three, Kevin having three daughters and Gary two. Ray later re-married Barbara and their daughter Sally worked in public relations. 

Ray Mabbutt wrote ‘You can be a Soccer Star’, but his career lay in the world of insurance broking and he worked for many years for Investors Planning Associates in Queen Square, Bristol, before retiring to live in Winford.

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