I think that it is safe to say that Gerry Warner was considered to be Wivenhoe Town’s ” Go To Man ” as he had no less than six spells at Broad Lane spanning over an eleven and a half year period. The fact that different Dragons managers saw fit to bring him back as the club progressed up the non-league pyramid show how highly he was rated as a goalkeeper on the local footballing scene.
Having previously been a member of the Tilbury squad that reached the 3rd Round proper of the F.A.Cup before going out of the competition away to Stoke City in 1977/78, Gerry was signed by Geoff Bennett at the beginning of the 1981/82 campaign from neighbours Brightlingsea United. He made his Dragons debut on Saturday 22nd August 1981 in a 2-1 Essex Senior League victory at East Ham United. He was virtually ever present as Wivenhoe finished Runners-up in the league and won the Worthington Evans Charity Cup. After three seasons (broken by a short period away from the club) and playing in the Dragons’ run to the last sixteen of the F.A. Vase in 1982/83, his second spell came to an end following a 3-0 Harry Fisher Memorial Trophy Semi Final victory over Maldon Town on 14th April 1984.
Gerry launches the ball into the opponent’s half at Broad Lane.
With the Dragons moving up to join the Isthmian League Division Two (North) at the beginning of the 1986/87 campaign, manager Mick Loughton re-signed Gerry from Eastern Counties League outfit Haverhill Rovers and he made 19 appearances in our debut season before leaving in October. Brought back again at the end of February 87 by returning Boss Geoff Bennett, he played out the season and started the following campaign as Wivenhoe’s number one (playing in our first ever F.A.Cup match) before the arrival of Dave Gadsdon signalled his departure again after a 6-2 F.A.Vase win over Somersham Town.
Mick Loughton, then in his second spell as First Team manager, sprung a surprise on 4th January 1992 when bringing the now “veteran” Warner out of semi retirement for the trip to St.Albans City with the Dragons struggling second from bottom in the Isthmian League Premier Division. This was Gerry’s fifth spell at Wivenhoe and not only did he help us to a 2-1 victory on the day, he was to be an important figure in the coming months as we avoided relegation.
Gerry “congratulates” the Dagenham keeper on conceding four goals. This was his own 65th and final clean sheet for the Dragons. Meanwhile Phil Coleman contemplates what to do to the kit man who shrunk his shorts !!.
When former Fulham striker Steve Milton put Woking 2-0 ahead in the 13th minute at the Kingfield Stadium on Saturday 22nd February 1992, little did those Dragons fans present realise that this was to be the last time Gerry was to be beaten until former Colchester United and Wivenhoe player Tom English scored for Bishop’s Stortford just over ELEVEN HOURS later !!. In total he went 661 minutes without conceding a goal which established a club record at Senior level, a fitting tribute to one of the best goalkeepers to play for Wivenhoe Town. Gerry’s final appearance in the Dragons’ number one shirt came the following season as this time Steve Dowman disturbed his retirement as we found ourselves without a keeper for our important Premier Division bottom four clash at home to Bognor Regis Town on Saturday 6th February 1993. Warner gave his usual assured display as we won 4-1 and his career with the ‘Hoe finally came to an end having made 187 First Team appearances during which time he kept a respectable 65 clean sheets.
In addition to the aforementioned clubs, Gerry also played for Donnyland Swifts in the Colchester & East Essex League, Essex & Suffolk Border League sides West End United and Rowhedge, plus Coggeshall Town, Halstead Town, Tiptree United, Clacton Town and Brantham Athletic.
Gerry Warner and Team Mates Season 1986/87
Back (left to right) Mick Loughton (Manager), Mick Clarke, Colin Hill, Richard Reynolds, George Measures, Paul Harrison, Chris Dines, Peter Licence, Matt Bennett. Front (left to right) Geoff Harrop, Wayne Ward, Gerry Warner, Gary Higgleton, Neil Milburn