The legacy of Danny Williams – a man of his times for Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday, Mansfield Town and Swindon Town

Danny Williams
Danny Williams

His is a story from another era, it could almost be another planet.

Danny Williams, Rotherham miner, footballer, manager and sports shop owner in the town died over the weekend, aged 94.

His is a story of his time in a world barely recognisable as our own.

For nine years from 1943 Thrybergh lad Williams combined his footballing duties with his job at Silverwood Colliery.

Imagine today’s players tweeting and instagram-ing from the pit canteen? 

No, me neither.

Though of course the best of every generation rises to the challenges before it.

In Williams’ case that meant 500 games in 15 years at Millmoor plus 97 in wartime, a strong, committed midfielder - ‘wing halves’ they called them then. 

According to those who saw him he was 100 per cent, every minute, every week.

He played his last game in 1960, just after starring in the Millers side who beat Arsenal 2-0 in an epic FA Cup third round, second replay, in front of 56,000 at Hillsborough.

Everybody knew Danny.

If you were lucky he’d come out from the back of his shop - first on Doncaster Gate, then Church Street - to serve you himself.

He managed Wednesday from 1969 to 1971 during difficult times after he guided then third division Swindon Town - where he is as revered as he is in Rotherham -  to victory over Arsenal, again,  in the 1969 League Cup final.

3-1 on a ploughed-field of a pitch - the nation was in arms as the ‘hallowed turf’ had been gouged and rutted by the Horse Of The Year Show a few days earlier.

Look at the YouTube footage, it’s even more of a shock now than it was then.

But it was Danny’s and the brilliant, sloping-shouldered winger Don Rogers’ day. Unforgettable. 

That tired old cliché ‘legend’, like ‘icon’, has been hollowed out by over-use, cheapened by the hyper-inflation of celebrity worship.

So let’s just say that Danny Williams was a proper footballer, a proper manager and a proper bloke.  

Proper Rotherham.

*Danny Murphy did the decent thing and apologised to Steve Bruce for his disparaging remarks on Match Of The Day regarding the new Wednesday boss’s delayed start at Hillsborough.

Murphy was unaware when he made his comments that Bruce was on a holiday he promised his wife after she helped care for his parents, both of whom died last year.

There could have been no other explanation.