Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roy Willner

From 1974 through 1978, Roy Willner gave Dips fans a clinic in heart, grit and effort. He was not the fastest, nor the most talented player, but you had to respect the way he played. Despite his size, 5' 7" & 150 pounds, Willner took no guff from opponents.

John Rowlands can personally attest to what happened to those who tried to get physical with ol' number 16. The Dips and San Jose Earthquakes engaged in a particularly physical match on May 23, 1977.

The game was still scoreless with about 3 minutes left in regulation when Willner received a pass near midfield. He dribbled once or twice and then passed the ball to his left. Just then, Rowlands delivered a cheap shot that Karl Malone would have envied. Willner turned and dropped his assailant with one right hook to the jaw.

"It was just a real dirty play," Willner said of Rawlands hijinks. "We went out to celebrate after the game (the Dips eventually won, 1-0. via a shootout), and my jaw was killing me."

Willner, who retired after the 1978 season due to knee problems, now lives in the neighborhood in which I grew up. He allowed me the honor of adding his personal equipment bag to my Diplomats collection.

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