Ray Stewart enjoyed an illustrious playing career spanning 3 decades. Born in Perthshire he began his career along the road at Dundee United, and after 3 years at Tannadice (where he was voted SPFA Young Player of the year) he became the most expensive teenager in British football when he signed for West Ham United for £450,000 in 1979.
(Ray Stewart is pictured above, back centre, lining up for the West Ham United Away team in 2006)
Stewart was to spend 12 years at Upton Park making an incredible 345 league appearances for the club. A hard tackling Right Back, dubbed ‘Tonka' (after the indestructable Tonka Toys) by the Hammers fans, he had an unnerring ability from the penalty spot, scoring 76 out of 86 penalties in his career with the Hammers. An ever present in the excellent Hammers team in the early '80s - playing alongside the likes of Trevor Brooking, Phil Parkes, Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie - he celebrated instant success, winning the FA Cup in his 1st season when only 20 years old. The following year he demonstrated his worth to the team, when he calmly slotted home a late penalty against Liverpool in the 1981 League Cup Final to take the game to a replay, unfortunately West Ham were to lose 2-1 in that game. His success with the club continued, with the highlight coming in the 1985-86 season, when McAvennie and Cottee's record 46 league goals saw the Hammers only narrowly pipped to the Division 1 title, with the club finishing 3rd.
In 1991 he brought a long and distinguished career at Upton Park to an end, returning North to join St Johnstone, before he ended his playing career with Stirling Albion a few years later. Stewart then turned his hand to management, with spells at Livingston, Stirling Albion and Forfar Athletic between 1998 and 2004.
A Scotland International (making his debut at the age of 21 against Wales in 1981), he was capped 10 times and was perhaps unlucky to be competing for the Right Back position with the likes of Danny McGrain, Richard Gough and Steve Nicol.
Ray was delighted to sign up as our Football Aid Ambassador for West Ham United in 2006 and he certainly showed his famed determination and will to win in his debut appearance. Our match report describes him stepping up "to show why he made a record 431 appearances for West Ham during his career and sent a delicious curving ball inside the left post and past an unsighted Turner into the net".