News has reached the club of the passing of former striker Ray Drake after a period of illness.
Ray was a local lad who, despite his disabilities, fulfilled many a boy's dreams by becoming a goal scoring sensation for his team - Stockport County.
Following Jack Connor’s departure to Crewe, goal scoring duties at Edgeley Park were shared between Eddie Moran and Ken Finney, until the emergence of local youngster Ray Drake. The Hatters appeared to have unearthed a genuine striking talent as Drake scored on his debut against Derby and never looked back, notching 19 goals in just 22 appearances.
Drake’s story was all the more remarkable when you consider that he was deaf in one ear and diabetic. During the 1950’s the centre forward always kicked the game off, following the referee’s whistle, with a pass to his inside forward. In itself this proved to be a problem for the hard of hearing Drake. Between them, County’s front two developed a system which signalled the fact that the whistle had been blown. Once the official had blown, Moran would pull on Drake’s shorts to inform him that the game could start. Bearing this in mind, it’s hard to believe that to this day, Ray Drake holds the record for the fastest ever goal scored for Stockport County. On Christmas Day in 1956 against Accrington Stanley it took him just seven seconds to get off the mark.
Drake’s first season tally, including a hat-trick against Gateshead and all four goals in the defeat of Wrexham, brought him to the attention of First Division Bolton Wanderers who were rumoured to be ready to offer the legendary Nat Lofthouse in exchange for the young Edgeley Park marksman. In the event no transfer took place, and following a major disagreement with Manager Moir, County lost the services of one of the most promising players of all time, to local non-League football.
A Stockport County fan through and through, Ray continued to attend games at Edgeley Park as a season ticket holder, and in the ‘90s became a founder member of the Stockport County ex-Players Association alongside Trevor Porteous, Johnny Price and Freddie Goodwin.
Everyone at Edgeley Park passes on their condolences to the family and friends of Ray.