Southampton football Legends – Hopefully this will be the first in a line of articles written about some of Southampton’s great footballing heroes of the past.
Ron Davies began life in Holywell, Flintshire, Wales on May 25th 1942. To many of our younger Saints fans he is just a name that dads and grandads spoke about with fond memories. For those of us that saw him play he is a true Saints Legend.
Ron began his career at Chester City after failing to persuade Birmingham City to take him on. He made his debut in 1960 and has always said that his superb jumping capability was as a result of stern training methods whilst at Chester. These included training in army boots when jumping hurdles. From Chester he was sold to Luton for £12,000 in in the September 1963 he moved on to Norwich for the princely sum of £35,000.
He stayed at Norwich City for three successful years and whilst their became a Welsh international, making his debut in 1964. Southampton won promotion for the first time to the the old First Division, and spent a then club record £55,000 to bring Ron to the ‘Dell’. In his first season Ron netted 37 goals in 41 games. This included a run of 10 consecutive games in which he scored 12 goals.
His first goal was scored at Bloomfield Road and what a goal it was. Tony Waiters the Blackpool keeper had come out of his box and Ron simply lobbed him. In Ron’s own words, ‘The keeper came out of his box, way outside the box and I couldn’t believe it, and lobbed the ball over him from 35 yards’.
1966/7 saw Ron as the leading scorer in the First division, and the next season saw him level with George Best as leading scorer. On 16th August 1968 Southampton travelled to Old Trafford to take on the Matt Busby’s Manchester United. This game made him a Saints legend by itself as he scored all four goals in a 4-1 victory. The late great Sir Matt Busby said after the game of Ron, ‘that he had no peers’.
Ask Ron what he considered his best goals ever and you might be surprised to hear it was one of four that he scored against Aston Villa in the same season. In that game he showed that he could score without his head by hitting all four with his feet.
His favourite being one where he received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and then swiveled before smashing a fierce shot into the goal. The ball was hit so hard that it hit the stanchion at the back and bounced straight back out of the goal.
As we moved into the 1970’s defenders had learned that the only way to beat Ron was to mark the man and not the ball. He began to suffer with injuries and Saints slowly lost the services of their leading goalscorer through these injuries reducing his effectiveness. Considering his last couple of years at the club were not as prolific Ron Davies had nevertheless scored a total of 134 league goals in just 240 league games.
Ron left us for Portsmouth in 1973 where he played 59 games scoring 18 times. From there he moved to Old Trafford but only made 8 appearances from the subs bench before ending up at Millwall where he played another 3 games. For Wales Ron played 29 times scoring 9 goals which was a good haul considering the limited size of the Welsh catchment area.
For those of us who saw him, Ron Davies was a supreme header of the ball and scored many a goal from crosses delivered by the likes of another Saints Legend Terry Paine, and flying left winger John Sydenham. If it was possible for our kids to see some footage of Ron they would see how he sometimes seemed to hover above defenders before heading powerfully into the net for our team.
So there you have it. My first article on one of our legends. This is different though as any good comments and descriptions of times you saw him play will be added as footnotes to this article if you accept the offer when asked. If any of you have a wish for us to do an article like this on an old favourite of yours let us know and we will see what we can do.
Ronald Tudor ‘Ron’ Davies is for me a true legend, and I remember him with affection for the many hours of pleasure that he brought me with his powerful displays and excellent heading ability whilst playing for our club.
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