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RON DAVIES 1942-2013

Ron 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 process.

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 and friends.

Chas Sumner [30/5/13]



























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