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16 January 2013

Richard Day looks back at the former outside-right

John "Johnny" William Benjamin Warsap, born in Leytonstone, served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment during World War II.

In 1945 his regimental team played a friendly against the Gills and the outside-right came to the attention of Gillingham manager Archie Clark - later that year he signed professional terms with the club. It was the start of 13-year association with the club.

He made his debut in a 4-0 Kent League win at Sheppey United and his first goals came a month later when scoring twice in a 8-1 away triumph at Folkestone.

That season, in which Johnny scored 14 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions, Gillingham won the Kent League title, the Kent League Cup, the Kent Senior Cup, the Kent Senior Shield and the Kent Challenge Cup.

They returned to the Southern League for the following campaign (1946-47) and Warsap netted six goals in 39 matches as the Gills won a league and cup double.

Over the next three seasons he played in 72 games and added 25 goals which included a hat-trick in a 5-1 home win over Cheltenham Town in March 1948.

The summer of 1950 saw Gillingham re-elected to the Football League but Johnny had limited opportunities in the first-team. Over the next three seasons he made just nine more appearances and his one and only League goal came in a 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth in April 1953.

The last of his 131 appearances for the club, in which he netted 40 goals, came two matches later at Southend United but although he didn’t play for the first-team after this he remained at the club.

In 1958 his long service was rewarded in a joint benefit match with Vic Niblett against a team from the British Army.

After retiring from professional football he continued playing locally into his fifties while working in the gas industry.

He died in Rochester in May 1992, just weeks before his 71st birthday and is buried in St Margarets Cemetary (Rochester).

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