The club is saddened to announce the death of Willy Webb who passed away at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford on Sunday at the age of 73.

Willy had many often grand job titles at the club but was essentially a caretaker/odd job man – a genuine club man and the sort of “character” that non-league football produces.

Willy worked as a cleaner at the army camp from the age of 16 when leaving school at Seabrook Lodge and originally started helping out at the club in 1992 when answering the call from Bob Dix.

“He was terrific,” said Bob Dix, now the club’s President. “He loved being at the club and he never let you down on anything. Whenever Willy said he’d do something then he’d do it and he was always very generous to the club with both his time and money as the football club became his life. He had a good sense of humour and was cleverer than people gave him credit for. He is in a happy place now”. 

He used to be over the ground before most of us had even thought about getting out of bed and there were times when it felt as though Willy ‘lived’ at the club and at times that probably wasn’t too far from the truth!

It was during Covid and the lockdowns of 2020 that Willy had to keep away from the ground and his health deteriorated in recent years. Willy was in regular contact with people at the club during the lockdowns – Neil Cugley in particular could set his clock by when Willy would ring him each day. But Willy’s body clock was different to the rest of us – he’d be up around 4am each day and often be in bed by 6pm (or after Doctor Who). Many of us have been on the receiving end of a call from Willy at an unsociably early hour – Matt Norris was particularly tolerant in this respect. 

Willy became particularly close to Bob Dix, as well as Neil and Pauline Cugley, each of whom were a great source of help to him. He was a well-known figure at the club and also later formed a close bond with kit man Andy Payne, whom he often assisted.

Neil and Pauline used to invite him round for Christmas lunch (often joking that they knew that he’d be thinking of his bed and going home not long after the Queen’s Speech). 

“Willy used to help out in so many ways,” said Neil. “He always sponsored players and matches each season, he watered the pitch, helped out as kit man …. he was very loyal and was always extremely popular with the players.”

Willy was often at the ground when Neil signed new players – Neil would introduce him to the player as “the Chairman” (I think only Carl Rook fell for it) and instructed Willy to lock the door until the player signed!

Willy was often on the receiving end of practical jokes and jibes (“banter”) from the players – he took it mainly in good part but would be quick to respond with a few choice words of his own if he felt that anyone had overstepped the mark (just ask Scott Lindsey). 

October 1st – a birthday he shared with Alan Orsbourne – was always a big day at the club as the players brought a present each in for him (one player – who we won’t name but who has a testimonial coming up at Faversham – infamously brought in a hamster that Dave Williams instead took home with him)!

This season Willy still came over from time to time, enjoying a chat with old friends in The Dugout before then bizarrely getting a taxi home before half time. Before going into hospital, Willy spent many a happy hour listening to his radio at home in Kitchener Square (where he had moved having grown up in Dallas Brett). 

Willy had his idiosyncrasies (don’t we all?) – his intake of Diet Coke was legendary, he’d eat turkey but refuse to eat chicken, he’d love cottage pie but hate shepherd’s pie (or was it the other way round)?  He’d not attend a home midweek fixture because it would finish too late but would often go to midweek away games!  

I remember him waving us off on the club’s first away trip to Guernsey (played on a Friday night which he decided would have been too late a night for him).

Willy had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of 1960s music (I remember being surprised and impressed when talking to him on an away trip about his admiration for Jimmy Cliff but soon had to take exception with him for his dislike of Simon & Garfunkel). 

There are so many memories and stories about Willy that will be told over the coming days/weeks. 

He was essentially a loyal, kind, gentle, ‘harmless’ man who didn’t wish anybody any harm.

One of our own.