Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday June 10 2013
Plymouth Argyle legend Billy Rafferty is the next player under the spotlight for the Where Are They Now series.
BILLY RAFFERTY - Born 30th December 1950 Glasgow, Scotland.
Billy started his football career in his home city with Port Glasgow, after he had scored nine goals in a game his talents came to the attention of Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers.
His heart was set on playing in England and when an offer of a week's trial with Coventry came up he jumped at the chance.
The trial must have gone well as they offered him the opportunity to join the club as an apprentice.
When he was seventeen he was offered a two year deal.
He made his first team debut in a 4-0 defeat at Newcastle at the end of the 1969-70 season.
His opportunities were fairly limited after that and after making only 27 appearances and scoring 3 goals when Blackpool offered to do a straight swap with Tommy Hutchison he moved from Coventry in 1972.
His time at Blackpool saw him playing more first team football, although his appearances were restricted by a cartilage problem in his knee, even so he still managed to score nine goals from 36 appearances.
His goalscoring potential was recognised by Argyle manager Tony Waiters and a bid of £25,000 was enough to bring Billy to Home Park in March 1974.
He was only able to make five appearances before his knee problem returned and surgery to his damaged cartilage meant he wouldn't play any more football that season.
1974-75 saw a fully fit Billy playing alongside Paul Mariner; it was time for defenders of opposing teams to start worrying.
Billy scored in the first home game of the season, a 2-1 win over Grimsby and for the first of many times to come the names Mariner and Rafferty appeared together on the scoresheet.
Billy scored again in the next game a 2-1 defeat at Southend, he followed that one up the following Saturday when he scored Argyle's second goal in a 4-3 defeat at Aldershot with Harry Burrows and Mike Green also scoring.
A week later on September 7th a hat trick from Billy and one from Paul Mariner saw a 4-1 home win over Tranmere.
Billy scored the only goal of the game on 15th October in a 1-0 home win over Aldershot, it would be the start of an unbeaten sixteen match run that would see him score eleven league and three FA Cup goals during that run.
On Boxing Day he scored the last goal in a 4-3 home win over Swindon in a game watched by 18,027 with Colin Randell, John Delve and Paul Mariner also on the scoresheet.
On 11th January Bournemouth felt the full force of Argyle's goalscoring powers in a 7-3 win at Dean Court, Billy scored the first goal, Paul Mariner (2) Brian Johnson, Hugh McAuley, John Delve and Colin Randell also scored to make it a miserable day for the Cherries.
On 4th February Argyle had their biggest game of the season when the two top teams met at Home Park, a crowd of 28,744 meant a delayed start to the game as the crowds poured in, I can remember standing in the middle of the Devonport End looking at the car headlights stretching away up Outland Road as the 7:30 kick off time came and went.
It was to be the biggest home crowd since the final game of the 1959-60 season when 29,895 saw Argyle easily beat champions Aston Villa 3-0.
Eventually the Blackburn game kicked off, the packed ground erupted when Billy got the first goal and the joy of the Argyle fans was doubled when Brian Johnson scored the second goal, a late, late Blackburn goal gave them some consolation, but Argyle weren't to be denied their victory, sending the large crowd home happy.
By the end of the season Argyle ended the season as runners up and leading goalscorers for the division.
Billy finished as the top goalscorer with 26 goals with Paul Mariner not too far behind on 20.
Back in Division 2 Bill continued to score goals, his first came on 6th September in a 1-0 home win over the team that would end up as champions, Sunderland.
He scored twice in a 3-1 home win over Portsmouth; another two came on December 27th in a 4-0 beating over Fulham at Home Park with Colin Randell and Brian Johnson also scoring.
Although it wasn't known at the time his last goals came on February 24th when he scored twice in a 3-0 home win over Luton with Colin Randell also scoring.
By the time the last game of the season arrived Billy was left out the final game at Carlisle.
Within a short time a miserly £20,000 bid was received from Carlisle and much to the disgust of the fans after making 101 appearances and scoring 40 goals the man that had shot them to promotion was sold. Even now over 35 years after he left the club on his frequent returns, the chant of Oh Billy, Billy, Billy, Billy, Billy Rafferty can be heard around the ground.
Billy made an instant impact at Brunton Park scoring twice in a 2-1 win against Southport in the League Cup before the season had even started.
He really sealed his place in Carlisle's history when in December 1976 in a game at home to Cardiff with six minutes to go Cardiff were comfortably leading 3-1 after dominating the match for 84 minutes, a rapid hat trick from Billy saw the game end 4-3 and he was ensured a place in the club's history.
Despite not missing a game and scoring twenty goals it wasn't enough to keep Carlisle in Division 2 and they were relegated.
In February 1978 Wolves offered £130,000 for Billy, a fee more reflective of his true value than the £20,000 they paid for him, and Carlisle accepted the offer.
In 83 appearances he scored 37 goals, including one at Old Trafford in a FA Cup third round replay in a 4-2 defeat to Man Utd and a goal in his final game for Carlisle, a 2-2 draw against Colchester.
Billy spent a year at Molyneux scoring six goals from 44 appearances when a bid of £175,000 from Newcastle came in for him and once again he was on his way.
He only spent a season at Newcastle when ambitious Portsmouth offered £80,000 to take him back to the South Coast.
He made 39 appearances for the Geordies scoring six goals.
At Portsmouth Billy joined up with former Argyle team mate Colin Sullivan and once again found goals easy to come by, helping Pompey to win the Third Division championship in 1982-83.
During his time at Fratton Park he made 102 appearances scoring 40 goals.
In 1984 Billy moved along the coast to join Bournemouth, in the two seasons he was with them he made 58 appearances and scored 19 goals.
While Bournemouth were his last Football League club it wasn't the end of his football career when he moved to Portugal, playing first for Farense and finally finishing off his football career with Louletano.
While Billy was a hero to the Carlisle fans he must have liked the area as well. On his retirement Billy and his wife Elaine, a former model, opened a beauty salon in the town which they still run.
Date:Monday June 10 2013
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