Davies, one of Chester’s finest ever youth products,
has died in America on the eve of his 71st birthday.
The Holywell-born centre forward developed into one
of the most lethal strikers of the 1960s and 70s and
his strength and power in the air made him almost unstoppable
at the peak of his game. In a long career, from 1959
to 1976, he made 549 Football League appearances and
scored an incredible 279 goals. He was also awarded
29 international caps for Wales scoring 9 goals in the
Ron started his career as a junior
at Chester in the late 1950s and such was his promise
that manager Stan Pearson gave him his debut at Workington
after scoring a hatful of goals for the reserves. Although
Chester were well and truly thumped 5-0 the 17 year
old did enough for Pearson to include him in the side
the following week when he scored against Doncaster
Rovers in his first game at Sealand Road.
The 1960/61 season saw Ron begin to
make a name for himself, scoring 23 goals in 39 games,
even though Chester ended the season 92nd in the Football
League. Ron continued to find the back of the net in
1961/62, finishing leading scorer with 13 goals, although
the team remained rooted at the bottom of the table.
However, the strain of playing in a struggling side
was beginning to show and the youngster often found
himself the subject of criticism from the Stadium fans.
By the start of 1962/63 Ron had been
dropped to the Cheshire County League side and had asked
to be put on the transfer list but an impressive performance
for the reserves, against Bangor City, saw him return
to the first team alongside Irish international Peter
Fitzgerald. It proved to be a perfect pairing, and Ron
regained some of his earlier form netting ten goals
in eight games including a four goal haul against Southport.
With Liverpool and Wolves reportedly showing an interest
it was Luton Town who stepped in for his signature and
the big Welshman moved to Kenilworth Road in October
1962 for £12,200.
Following Luton’s relegation
Ron moved on to Norwich City followed by Southampton
for a record £55,000 in 1966. The move to the
Dell proved to be the making of Ron and over the next
seven years he scored 134 goals in 240 games including
37 during the 1966/67 season, a total that has not been
bettered in the top flight since. In August 1969 Ron
scored four times against Manchester United at Old Trafford
a feat that prompted Matt Busby to describe him as “the
best centre forward in Europe” and he was the
subject of a huge bid of £200,000 from United
which was turned down by the Saints board. His later
years were marred by injury as the strain on his body
began to take a hold and he wound down his career playing
for Portsmouth, Manchester United and Millwall before
moving to America where he played for Los Angeles Aztecs.
Widely regarded as one of the finest
centre forwards to grace the game Ron put down his phenomenal
aerial ability to the training he received at Sealand
Road in the 1960s. Bill Lambton took over as manager
at Chester in January 1962 and his eccentric training
methods certainly left a lasting impression with Ron.
“Iron Man Bill” was a former Sergeant Major
who believed in training based on physical fitness and
Ron was made to jump hurdles wearing heavy army boots.
As Ron himself said “when I took those boots off
I felt I could jump over the moon.” Ironically
it was these successful training methods that brought
about health problems in his later years.
After retiring from playing
Ron, who was also a skilful artist, continued to live
in America and after coaching in Florida spent his latter
years in New Mexico. In 2007 Southampton supporters
started a successful campaign which raised £15,000
to help finance a hip operation for one of their most
popular players. Our condolences go out to his family