Remembering AP Lockheed Leamington striker Bill who was a star both on and off the football pitch

Bill Draper scored a diving header for AP Lockheed Leamington.
Bill Draper scored a diving header for AP Lockheed Leamington.

A talented footballer, a successful businessman and a caring and loving man - Bill Draper was all of these things.

Born Richard Walter William Draper, Bill lived in Leamington his entire life .

Bill Draper enjoying his retirement in his later life.

Bill Draper enjoying his retirement in his later life.

The former employee at AP Lockheed, who played for the company’s football team at the same time, died aged 82 on Wednesday March 25.

In his three seasons for AP Lockheed Leamington between 1952 and 1955 he played 101 games, scoring 83 goals.

While starring for AP, Bill was visited at his home by the then Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis who wanted him to sign full-time forms on £13 a week but he turned the offer down as he was already earning more than this.

Shortly after, Bill moved to Northampton Town FC for whom he scored a brace at Highfield Road against Coventry City who had England player Reg Matthews in goal for them.

The goals were due to be shown on BBC Sports Special that night, but his wife-to-be Josephine talked him into going to the AP dinner dance instead.

Bill’s final clubs were Kettering Town, where he scored 100 goals in three seasons, and then Rugby Town.

In the 1960s Bill and two colleagues from AP opened Leamington’s first casino nightclub called the Oddspot in Bedford Street and later a second club called Le Can.Can in High Steet.

When the Labour government blocked licences for casinos in towns, the team kept the same theme and opened the first of the Spa Turf Accountants betting offices.

These well known establishments remained Bill’s focus for the rest of his working life.

Paying tribute to his father, Dave Draper said: “He always kept fit and could never sit still. Members of the Leamington Lawn Tennis Club would see my dad there most days.

“During his retirement years he enjoyed horse riding, walking and was even known to white water raft down some of the most treacherous rapids in the world.

“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago and it was a hard time for him and the family. He wouldn’t have wanted to have gone through or put anyone through it if he’d had a choice. “He was a very caring and loving man.”

Bill leaves his wife, his sons Dave and Richard and three grandchildren Freddie, Lilli and Louie.

His funeral will take place at Oakley Wood Crematorium on Thursday April 9 from 3pm and there will be a gathering at the Leopard pub in Bishops Tachbrook after.

Flowers and donations to WG Rathbone Funeral Directors in Leamington.