Glanville James “Willie” Williams (1922- 2019)
As a Welsh writer once put it: “Wales is culturally castrated by Non-conformism, politically raddled by Marxism, and economically exploited by England”. An incidental benefit to English rugby is the number of Welshmen who came to England in search of work and who have contributed so much to clubs across the land as players, coaches and administrators, for we Welsh truly love our game whoever plays it.
One such was Willie. Born the son of a miner in Clydach Vale at the side of the Rhondda Valley on 4th September 1922, and later living in the greener pastures of Llanharan towards the Vale of Glamorgan, he came to London with his family in 1936 as a result of the Depression. They settled in Northfields and the factories of the Great West Road and Perivale provided employment. The splendid names of his elder siblings, Gwyneth, Gwynfor and Tegwen show their strong cultural affinity for their homeland, which they maintained at the Welsh chapel still thriving on Ealing Green.
Willie naturally pursued another Welsh passion and joined the Club, first turning out for it as a scrum half in 1937 at the age of 15, commencing a relationship which lasted until his death in Ealing Hospital on 5th September at the age of 97.
After call up to military service in 1942 Willie had a 25 year career in the army, in which he took full advantage of the opportunity to acquire an education and hone his administrative abilities, later put to such good use professionally and in service of the Club. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps, and, for a time, served as a Physical Training Instructor, before several overseas postings. His performance won him a commission from the ranks and a final posting on the personal staff of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
He played at Ealing during his home postings and after retirement from the army worked as a financial adviser and as manager of Elton John’s backing group, while filling many administrative roles for the Club with distinction. As well as being a supreme organiser of sophisticated and successful social events, and creating and editing a club magazine, he was Secretary, and President between 1974 and 1979, following which he was awarded the rare accolade of Life Membership in which he took great pleasure.
In retirement he pursued his hobby of writing and in 1999 under the name of Jim Williams published The Miner’s Lamp, a fascinating evocation of the hardships of his coal mining ancestors in the Rhondda, which was well received.
His cremation took place on 4th October followed by a wake at the Club attended by his many friends and admirers. Our sympathies are extended to his son, Ken, also an Ealing player, and his daughter, Wendy, who had the good sense to marry an Ealing player, and her family, with thanks for the great contribution Willie made to the Club. When Sir Isaac Newton was asked how he made his discoveries in the field of gravity, he responded: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Subsequent committees at Ealing have been standing on Willie’s shoulders.