Ray Drinkwater sadly passed away on 24th March, aged 76. He was the first QPR keeper I ever saw and he made 214 league and cup appearances for the R’s before moving on to Bath City. Michael Woodley kindly sent me the image of the Northway Youth Club team in Guildford. Ray is shown third from the left and he went on to play for Guildford City, Portsmouth and then QPR. Bernard Lambert (Kerrins) sent me his own memories of Ray which are shown below – Steve Russell
Sadly another of my childhood heroes has departed from this world. Ray Drinkwater was the steady if unspectacular goalkeeper for the R’s during the 1958-63 era. He was the stalwart keeper that established himself into the Rangers 1st team after our young star Ron Springett, was sold to Sheffield Wednesday in March 1958 (a very hard act to follow). Ray was an integral part of the QPR “nearly men” of the 1960/61 and 1961/62 Seasons and mostly a safe and reliable custodian between the posts. Yes, without doubt a good club servant. I can only ever recall two blots on his form copybook. In a vital end of Season midweek home fixture against Bradford Park Avenue (April 1962 and lost 2-1), Ray had a rare nightmare match and was at fault for the Bradford goals. The only other lapse I can remember, was in the home defeat by bottom of the League Chesterfield in March 1961 when he was somehow beaten by a freak long shot from the Chesterfield inside forward, Brian Frear…..two errors in five years !!! If so, I guess the majority of goalkeepers would be more than happy to settle for that !
I once had the honour of talking to Ray on the train travelling to an away game at Portsmouth (January 1962 and lost 4-1) The train was much delayed due to a mudslide and Ray seemed only too happy to pass the time having a chat with the supporters. He mentioned to me that he was pleased that he was going to be made Captain for the day against his former club and he even took the trouble to explain important tactics about the integration of forwards and defenders operating as a cohesive unit. After that pep talk, in my next football match for the Sulgrave Boys Club Juniors, there was no more standing around on the touchline wing for me when I didn’t have the ball !!! Ray Drinkwater eventually left QPR FC in the midst of the ill fated White City Season of 1962/63 and subsequently moved on to the non-league football arena. Thank you Ray, in your time you served our club well. It was a pleasure to have met you in person and witnessed your numerous goalkeeping exploits for the R’s all those years ago. Gone but not forgotten.