It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mike Williams, who died on Friday 12th April 2024. Mike was a former player and 1st XV Vice-Captain of Blackheath FC.

Mike joined the Club during the 1967-68 season, having previously played for Rosslyn Park and Oxford Greyhounds. He was educated at Oundle School and later Bristol University where he led their pack in the U.A.U. winning side in 1962. Later that year, he was in the Park’s successful Middlesex 7s side.

During the 1967-68 season the Club 7s team was captained by Mike winning the Surrey Sevens among others. Mike was very interested in the 7- a- side game and wrote the first Coaching Manual for 7s. His influence was felt in this respect when Blackheath won a series of sevens competitions and got to the final of the Hawick sevens in 1969 succumbing to London Welsh 17-3 in the final.

Mike hales from Blaydon and was on the Club tour to there and Hartlepool in April 1972. We think Mike had a hand in this as his father was President of Blaydon RFC at the time. Incidentally Mickey Skinner (also from Blaydon) loved to tell us that he was 9 years old when he watched Mike play in that match.

He appears on Club 1st XV team photos from 1967/68 through to the 1971/72 season, excluding the 1969/70 season.

Mike was at the centre of the 1st XV Captaincy dispute. According to The Club rules, the Captain was chosen by the Committee and for the 1970-71 season they selected Tony Jorden who was newly down from Cambridge. The regular players, however, thought Mike, as an established player, should be chosen. In the end a compromise was reached whereby Tony was made Captain and Mike Vice Captain.

In the end good came out of it, the Club Rules were revised and made more democratic. It was felt more communication was required throughout the Club and Mike was made Press and Publicity Officer. He introduced the “Blackheath Informer” in Autumn 1970 which was then and still is an interesting read. It must have been hard work typing out the copy. We have six editions, four from 1970/71 and two from 1971/72. He was also Editor of ‘Scrumdown Blackheath’, a matchday magazine professionally printed and sold at the cost of 5d. Mike was also Chairman of the Selection Committee. In his coaching capacity for the Club, Mike produced a letter for players outlining some targets for the future. He also included a critique and advice for individuals on how to improve their performance. Mike was an avid coach and from his early days coaching at Sevenoaks School, he progressed to become one of the first RFU Senior coaches and a mentor to others. His talent was recognised when appointed as England U16 coach, a role he held for several years.

As well as representing Blackheath, Mike also played for Kent and Durham, he was travelling reserve for London Counties v Springboks and North East Counties v Fiji. In 1970 he was in Micky Steele-Bodger’s XV v Cambridge University. He toured the USA with Blackheath in 1967-68 and later Zambia with the Penguins.

Mike taught Economics, Politics and Business Studies at Sevenoaks School and ran the senior rugby XVs. Sevenoaks was the first school rugby side to tour British Columbia in 1974 and Australia in 1976. With this experience Mike started his Company “Intoursport World Travel Ltd”, also providing Sports Clothing. When Mandy Allen was running the Blackheath Rugby Club Shop, she bought various items from Mike sometimes meeting in lay-bys and pub car parks to take delivery. These included some of the polo shirts for the 1993 Club Tour to South Africa.

Sevenoaks School held an end of season rugby Dinner at the local Sevenoaks Rugby Club. Tony Kennett and Brownie were happy to be invited as Mike’s guests for the evening, where Des Diamond gave, in the main address, an insightful appraisal of Mike, his life and his work.

Mike always had time for the Club and was a long-term Club Member and supported the team whenever he could. He was enrolled as one of the Club’s early Country Members (CM) in 2016 which gave him a valuable link to the Club when he became less able to visit.

Our thoughts and condolences go to his wife Rose and to his family and friends.

Mike’s funeral takes place on Friday 17 May at 10am, at the Bluebell Crematorium, Old London Rd, Halstead TN14 7AE and afterwards at Sevenoaks Rugby Club 

Mike Williams, 1971-72 1st XV team photograph 

With thanks to Mandy Allen and Peter Brown