Donald “Don” Ratcliffe (born 13 November 1934) sadly passed away on Sunday 19th October 2014. He spent the last couple of years in a nursing home. He would have been 80 next month.
He made his debut at home to Bury on Christmas Day in 1954 – 55 and of his 11 appearances in that season six were against Bury. He became the prankster of Stoke’s dressing room and was a hugely popular figure amongst the players.
On the pitch Ratcliffe’s natural position was left wing although he played in every position bar centre half causing Stoke manager Tony Waddington to boast that Ratcliffe was the first £100,000 footballer – as they could have sold him for £10,000 for each position.
Under Waddington he was a regular and played in every match in 1962 – 63 as Stoke won the Second Division title.
He fell out of favour with Waddington in the First Division and he was sold to Middlesbrough for £27,500 in September 1963.
Ratcliffe’s time at “Boro” was not that good as he branded manager Raich Carter as ‘a waste of space’ which ended with Ratcliffe joining Darlington in February 1966 helping the club gain promotion in 1965 – 66 which was followed by an instant relegation.
He moved on again to Crewe Alexandra and again gained promotion from the Fourth Division and he ended his career with non-league Northwich Victoria.
He made a total of 436 league appearances scoring 33 goals.