James Patrick “Jimmy” Rayner (1935-2009)
Born Cornsay, near Durham, he began his football career at Langley Park Juniors and Grimsby Town, before moving to Bury, Hartlepool United, Barrow and Corby Town.
He played for Grantham in October 1957 in a Midland League fixture against Goole Town and scored his first goal for the club only two weeks later at Bradford City Reserves.
Jimmy played in every one of the remaining season’s games, including the County Cup Final at home to Gainsborough Trinity and easily finished as the club’s highest scorer, aided by four hat-tricks against Corby Town, Nottingham Forest Reserves, Spalding United and Gainsborough Trinity.
By the time he returned to London Road in the summer of 1963 as Grantham’s Player/Manager, his Football League experience had widened to include his most successful spell so far, with Peterborough United.
The season of 1963/64 was to be Grantham’s first Midland League Championship and for Jimmy personally there was to be so many highlights. A club record of 71 goals for one season included six against Sutton Town and Retford Town, four put past Gainsborough Trinity and Denaby United, plus another five hat-tricks.
The title was secured at their closest rivals, Scarborough, in April and only a few days later Jimmy was able to lift the trophy in front of 2,616 spectators after the Belper Town fixture.
His goal-scoring skills continued into the following season, but after eight goals in only six games he was transferred back into The Football League when Notts County came up with a Â £2,500 fee.
His final appearance for Grantham had been in September 1964 at London Road against Skegness Town.
Following the end of his professional career, which saw him make over 150 appearances in The Football League, Jimmy went on to become Player/Manager at Ilkeston Town, before having a successful couple of seasons at Boston United, scoring 55 goals in the 1965/66 campaign, still a club record for The Pilgrims.
He then returned to the North-East, had a short spell with Durham City, became Player/Manager at Gateshead, scouted for several Football League sides including Coventry City, before returning to Durham City as Chairman.
Compiled with assistance of Jon Barnes