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Ex-Socceroo Billy Rice Passes Away Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 20:49

SOCCEROO BILLY RICE PASSES AWAY

Ex-Socceroo Billy Rice has passed away.

This extract is from Laurie Schwab's, The Socceroos and their Opponents, p. 32.

"Billy Rice was one of the few Australians whose reputation withstood the 6-1 and 3-1 batterings by North Korea in the 1965 World cup qualifying series. Rice collapsed in the dressing room with stomach pains at half-time of the 3-1 game but because substitutes were not allowed then, he staggered back onto the field and played the second half in a daze.

Yet he and Slavia’s Nigel Shepherd emerged as Australia’s best players over the two-match series. Rice played only one more match on the tour, against Hong Kong, before being forced on to the bench by a leg injury.

He played his last international match against Scotland at Olympic Park on June 4, 1967. He came on as substitute after 68 minutes for Stan Ackerley against Greece at Olympic Park on 27 July 1969. Greece was 2-0 up at the time and did not score again.

Born on September 12, 1938 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Rice came to Australia as a 17-year-old with his parents in 1955 after playing as a junior with Distillery in Belfast. He signed with Footscray Capri and stayed on after Capri amalgamated with JUST three years later. He thus had a total of 14 years with the ‘one’ club.

During this time he played about 500 club games and represented Victoria 24 times.

A deeply religious person, Rice opposed Sunday soccer as he considered Sunday the traditional day of rest.

He made seven Socceroo appearances in total and retired from football in 1972. 

Socceroo appearances

1965 Chelsea, North Korea (twice, in World Cup qualifier), Hong Kong
1966 A S Roma
1967 Scotland
1969 Greece