Former player/manager at Ramsgate FC and Margate FC manage Leslie “Les” Riggs has died at the age of 85.
Les, who lived in Broadstairs with wife Georgina, made a total of 169 appearances for Gillingham FC during the 1950s and the 1960s and then later went on to manage both Ramsgate FC and Margate FC.
As well as managing both Thanet sides, Les had a number of links to the area. He had local school football tournaments named after him and also owned a sports shop on Northdown Road in Cliftonville which bears his name. He was the former captain of the North Foreland Golf Club.
Former Rams manager and friend, Jim Ward said: “”Les was an inspiration to many young and old in the Thanet area. I first met Les in the late 90s when I first took the Ramsgate job and most of the advice he gave me then has stood the test of time.
“I played golf with him many a time at North Foreland and he always wanted to know all about what we were doing at Ramsgate F C. Always positive never negative. I never saw him play but I knew he was renowned as a tough tackler who also could throw that heavy old leather ball miles. He will be sorely missed in football and North Foreland Golf Club where he was an ex Captain. RIP Les.”
Les was born in May 1935 in Portsmouth. He came through the junior ranks with Gillingham and made his league debut in April 1954 at the age of just 18.
In 1958 Riggs moved to Newport County for a fee of £1,750, where he again racked up over 100 Football League appearances. In 1961 he was sold to Bury for £750 and then moved to Crewe Alexandra in 1963.
Eighteen months later he returned to Gillingham, who were strengthening their side after promotion to Division Three, and made 18 further appearances for the Gills.
In October 1965 Les joined Ramsgate as player-manager and later spent more than five years as manager of Margate
After leaving football in 1977 Les ran a guest house and later opened Les Riggs sporting goods shop.
A tribute to Les has been posted by the Gills, who said: “The thoughts of everyone at Gillingham Football Club are with Les’ family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Les died on December 28.
Tribute and photos with thanks to Ramsgate FC and Gillingham FC
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