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Former Hotels midfielder Abley, dies aged 61.

Former Hotels midfielder Billy Abley died last Saturday in his hometown Liverpool, UK after a long battle with cancer. He was 61 years old.

Abley, who first came to Bermuda in 1978 to work at HMS Malabar in Dockyard and joined Hotels the same year, was a skilful midfielder who helped Hotels, then one of the Island’s top teams, win several trophies, including the league, Martonmere Cup, Friendship and FA Cup. Ian Morrison, Stanley Ray and Anthony (Toe) Dill also joined Hotels that year.

Abley left Bermuda for the first time in 1980 after helping the team win the league that year and was away for six months before returning in 1981 and working at Southampton Princess. He remaining on the Island until 1985 before emigrating to South Africa and living there for three years before returning to the UK.

Abley played in a Hotels that some outstanding players, including the likes of Sam Nusum, Robert Calderon, the late Frankie Brewster, the captain, David Kneisler, Kaz Reizner, Ian Morrison, Tony Greaves, Coolridge Bell, player-coach Allan Peacock, Anthony (Toe) Dill, Eddie Simpson, Myron Piper, Allan DeSilva, Eric Levon and Stanley Ray who were a part of the Hotels league winning team in 1979-80.

Bruno Fiocca, who was manager of Hotels from the 1970s up to ‘85, remembers Abley as one of the club’s best players. ‘He was a very skilful player, one of the best we ever had from abroad, he, Abbadi El Mustafa and Keith Brooks, a midfielder who only stayed a couple of years,” said Fiocca.

“After Keith left, Billy appeared out of nowhere. He was very, very good. We won the league hands down in 1979-80 when we lost just one game, the last game of the season. Allan Peacock was the player-coach.

Added Fiocca: ”Billy was very good physically, handled himself very well, won the ball easily, was a beautiful passer and had a terrific shot. He wasn’t very tall but was very skilful. I knew he was sick for about six years but was successful to come out of it. We were happy about that but unfortunately it came back and spread to his liver.

“After he won the league with us in 1980 he left the Island and came back in 1981 and stayed for another four years. He loved the Island so much that he applied for a job and worked at the Waterlot Inn.”

Ricky Hill, who was a young striker establishing himself at Hotels at the time, had fond memories of playing alongside Abley. “I started playing with him in 1981 and we had a lot of success at Hotels in those days,” recalled Hill.

“Billy was outstanding, not very fast but a very tough midfield player who could mix it up. He had great skills in very small and tight areas and had a good pass and a good shot. When we had him, Allan Peacock and Dennis McQuade in midfield in the 1980s we were a well-drilled team. When Hotels went to Somerset to play you had 3,000 people going to watch and you don’t get that today.

“I knew he wasn’t well for a while but I’m absolutely saddened and on behalf of all Hotels players in that day I send my condolences to his family.”.

Hotels were one of the Island’s top teams from the mid-1970s when they won the league in 1975 and 1980 through the 1980s when they also won the Martonmere Cup in 1981 and ‘83, Friendship Trophy in ‘83 and the FA Cup in ‘85. In 1985-86 they were relegated but returned after a couple of years and then eventually folded.

The funeral for Abley is being arranged to take place in Warrington, UK.

Billy Abley in action for Hotels against St George's in the 1980s. In the background is Kenny Pearman. Abley died last Saturday after a long illness at the age of 61.

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Published April 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm (Updated April 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm)

Former Hotels midfielder Abley, dies aged 61.

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