Thanks to Dave Rowntree for many of the player images after 1984.
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Full Name: John Stanley James Williams
Born: 16 August 1935
Came from: EEM Department Went to: Bristol Rovers
First game: 10 September 1955 Last game: 11 April 1966
Appearances: 448 (447/1) Goals: 55
Born in Bristol, Johnny Williams came to live in Plymouth at an early age and learned his football locally, but he did not come through the traditional schoolboy and representative route; in 1954 was signed as a part-time professional after his father asked the club to give his son a trial. Few could possibly have realised then that the 19-year-old would go on to be one of the most successful players in Argyle's history.
Originally an inside forward, Williams made his debut against Blackburn in September 1955 and retained his place for much of that season. After relegation the side made an appalling start to the 56-57 campaign. Manager Jack Rowley left Williams out and decided to play him at wing-half in the reserve side. Williams returned 4 games later and never looked back. Over the next 6 seasons he missed only 3 games, a tribute to his remarkable fitness and physical strength. At the height of his form he was majestic and constantly watched by top First Division teams. In 1958 he attracted a substantial bid from Wolves, at that time on their way to a second consecutive League Championship.
During National Service in 1958 and 1959 he was a regular in the British Army XI and was often the only non-international in that side. In one Army fixture in Scotland the watching Matt Busby described him as “the finest player on view tonight.” All of his contemporaries at Home Park shared the opinion that not only could he have played at the highest level but that he would have taken it by storm. In all competitions he made 447 (plus 1 sub) appearances for the Pilgrims and notched 55 goals, many of them unstoppable long-distance drives and volleys. He is 4th in overall appearances for the club.
Williams used his money wisely and at one time owned three separate garages in Efford, West Park and Southway. In 1965 he fell out of favour with Derek Ufton and moved back to his birthplace to play for Bristol Rovers. After 69 appearances and 10 goals the Bristol club reneged on the deal that allowed him to live and train in Plymouth. He became player-manager of Bodmin Town before joining Falmouth Town who he helped to unprecedented success. He returned to Argyle to assist Billy Bingham but when the latter was sacked Williams left too and concentrated on his burgeoning garage business.
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APPEARANCE DETAILS [reselect competitions]
The details below reflect appearances in all first-team competitions.
We're grateful to Andy Chapman, Paul Roberts, Steve Rhodes and Mark Lovell for their help in writing GoS-DB's player pen-pictures, and to the PAFC Media Team and Colin Parsons for their help with photos. Thanks also to staff at the National Football Museum, the Scottish Football Museum and ScotlandsPeople for their valuable assistance.
The following publications have been particularly valuable in the research of pen-pictures: Plymouth Argyle, A Complete Record 1903-1989 (Brian Knight, ISBN 0-907969-40-2); Plymouth Argyle, 101 Golden Greats (Andy Riddle, ISBN 1-874287-47-3); Football League Players' Records 1888-1939 (Michael Joyce, ISBN 1-899468-67-6); Football League Players' Records 1946-1988 (Barry Hugman, ISBN 1-85443-020-3) and Plymouth Argyle Football Club Handbooks.
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