Club mourns passing of Ray Carter and John Howe
The club was saddened to hear that two of our former players, Ray Carter and John Howe, have recently passed away.
Mick Fox pays tribute to them.
I remember as a young fan at Town Meadow watching Ray Carter, a fine centre forward and goal-scorer who in later years was very much one of the regulars in the newly formed Social Club at Town Meadow in the late 1970s-80s.
In my role putting together articles for the current programme, a lot of my research has been into the 1950s-60s and Ray features regularly in my pieces as one of the star players of local football, not only for Crawley but also for APV. Later he was a professional, firstly for Torquay United - where although he did not get many first team opportunities he was a regular scorer for the reserves - and then in October 1961, for one of our recent opponents, Exeter City. In his 105 games for the Grecians he scored an impressive 50 goals in a struggling side.
Although most of Ray’s earlier local football was with APV, he played a number of games for Crawley in season 1955-56 before moving to APV for a very successful spell. Ray then made the seemingly surprising move out of professional football in 1963 to return to Crawley Town, at a time when the club were beginning an exciting new era in the Southern League. These were the matches where I remember watching Ray and over the next three seasons he scored an impressive 57 goals.
My next memories of meeting Ray and his family date from when the club started the Social Club in the old Floodlite Club building in the late 1970s. Ray and his wife Ann along with Mark and Tracy were regular members, and I often played very competitive pool or darts matches against Ray as well as his son Mark.
Also joining this Crawley Town celestial squad is another of our stars from the 1960s, John Howe, who passed away this week. John joined us in 1965 as a young left back and quickly established himself in a very good Crawley side over the next two seasons before a broken leg sustained in 1966 curtailed his career for some time.
I always kept up with John’s career as I worked with his wife Jill at Crawley Borough Council in the early 1970s. Jill was very much part of the local football scene being the sister of another local star, Barry Steer.
In the 1990s, when I was heavily involved in the club, we appointed John as manager of our reserve side and through massive enthusiasm and hard work he and his team were very successful and in fact won the Sussex Intermediate cup during this time, a prestigious and difficult-to-win trophy that had last been won by the club in 1927.
John achieved much success with this young reserve side, bringing players such as Joff Vansittart through to be considered for the demands of first-team football.
John’s lovely wife Jill, who was so supportive of John and his footballing passion, sadly died some years ago, but John was involved in the Crawley Former Players Association and still popped up at many Crawley matches over the years and sat with us in the East stand for a match fairly recently. John was also a keen golfer at Ifield Golf Club, and friend and playing partner of current Crawley season ticket holder Dave McHale.
My condolences to John’s daughters Sam and Natasha and the rest of his family.