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Ron Davies
Personal information
Full name Ronald Tudor Davies
Date of birth 25 May 1942 (1942-05-25) (age 67)
Place of birth Holywell, Flintshire, Wales
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1959–1962 Chester City 94 (44)
1962–1963 Luton Town 32 (21)
1963–1965 Norwich City 113 (58)
1966–1972 Southampton 240 (134)
1973–1974 Portsmouth 59 (18)
1974–1975 Manchester United 8 (0)
1975 Millwall (loan) 3 (0)
National team
1964–1974 Wales 29 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Ronald Tudor "Ron" Davies (born 25 May 1942) was a Welsh footballer who played as a centre forward. He spent most of his career with Southampton in the Football League First Division, and also for the Welsh national team.

Davies was born in Holywell, Flintshire, Wales. He was arguably the best header of the ball there has ever been in English football, and was the top goal scorer in Division 1 for two seasons (1966 – 1968). In his first season at Southampton, he scored 12 goals in 10 consecutive league games. It will always be his incredible ability to seemingly defy gravity and head home yet another centre that will linger in the memories of those who were fortunate to see him play.

His younger brother Paul was an Arsenal youth player who went on to play for Charlton Athletic.

Contents

Early career

After an unsuccessful trial with Blackburn Rovers, Davies signed his first professional contract in July 1959 with Chester City where he was made to hurdle wearing army boots – training, he later claimed, which gave him his strength when jumping for crosses.

Davies was to learn the hard way in his early professional career. He made his debut in a 5-0 thrashing by Workington in March 1960 and the following two seasons would see the club finish bottom of the Football League. However, Davies continued to catch the eye with a strong strike rate and impressive performances. After a rare spell out of favour that saw him placed on the transfer list, his reputation was enhanced with four goals in a 6-1 win against Southport in October 1962. A move to Luton Town for £12,200 followed just weeks later and he moved on again to Norwich City in September 1963.

Norwich City

One of the few men to average more than a goal every other game for the Canaries, Davies became an instant hero at Carrow Road when he scored in each of his first four matches following a £35,000 move from Luton in the early weeks on the 1963-64 season. He went on to score 30 goals that season in a side who finished a lowly 17th in the English Football League, Division Two and followed up with tallies of 15 and 21 before being sold to Southampton, at the peak of his powers, for only £55000.

He made his international debut for Wales on 15 April 1964 in a 3-2 defeat against Northern Ireland, aged 21.

Davies was a tremendous hit in his three seasons at Carrow Road and there was an outcry when City let him go for what was considered by many to be a derisory sum. The fact that the big Welshman went on to score another 152 goals and win 29 caps before retiring in 1975 merely added to the feeling that manager Lol Morgan had sold him cheap.

Southampton

Ted Bates spent a club record £55,000 to bring the 24 year old centre forward to Southampton as the club prepared to face their inaugural season in the top flight. He was already an established Welsh international but most Saints fans did not expect Davies to make such an impact. It soon became clear that the fee was money wisely spent as Davies went on his goal scoring run of 12 goals in 10 consecutive league games and ended that season having scored 37 goals in 41 games to top the goal scoring charts, preventing certain relegation. A big but amiable giant, Davies was useful on the ground, but it was in the air where he inflicted most damage, although in Terry Paine he was lucky to have such a fine crosser of the ball.

With crosses from Terry Paine and John Sydenham floating in, Davies continued to dominate the aerial battles and he again headed (along with George Best) the scoring charts for 1967-68. His heading powers were awesome and when on 16 August 1969 he scored four goals in a match at Old Trafford, Matt Busby said that Davies had no peer in Europe.

It was a credit to The Dell management that all offers from wealthier clubs were firmly rejected. Manchester United headed a whole host of clubs who were willing to pay a small fortune for Davies' services, but Southampton were determined to hold on to their prize asset.

As the Saints progressed into the 1970s many top clubs learned how to cope with Davies' aerial power and he took a battering from many a desperate defender unable to cope with his mastery of the airways; eventually a series of injuries reduced his effectiveness and his scoring was reduced somewhat, although he never gave less than his best. By 1973 he was suffering from a series of injuries sustained from too many robust tackles and he could no longer command a regular first team place.

It was a sad day when the amiable Welshman left the Dell for Fratton Park but he let behind a generation of local schoolboys uninterested in practising their footwork, preferring instead to emulate their idol, and pursue the art of leaping like a salmon to plant the ball in the back of the net with their heads.

During his career with the club he scored 134 league goals placing him 8th on the club's list of all-time goalscorers. He won 29 caps for Wales, 23 of them whilst at Southampton and his total of 134 league goals included three 4-goal hauls, the most memorable being at Old Trafford in August 1969

Later career

Portsmouth signed him in April 1973, and in 59 games for Saints' closest rivals, he scored 18 goals.

His final international appearance was on 11 May 1974 in a 2-0 defeat against England, bringing his total number of caps to 29, with 9 goals scored.

Meanwhile, Manchester United had not forgotten Davies and they surprised the football world by signing him in November 1974. Unfortunately, he never started a game in United's first team but made eight substitute appearances before joining Millwall for 3 league games in November 1975.

Davies returned to Southampton to live and for a while continued to play for local sides but then moved to Los Angeles where he coached at local schools and latterly in Florida. He is now resident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is working on a construction site, living in a motor-home. Authors Jeremy Wilson and Javier Igeno, with John Sydenham, traced the location of Davies through their research for different projects. He is reported to be in need of a hip replacement operation but is unable to raise the necessary funds. There is a possibility of a benefit match being played to help raise funds, and former Saints colleagues, including Mick Channon, Terry Paine and Brian O'Neil, together with former club chairman Michael Wilde, have pledged their support.

In October 2007 an appeal fund was established to raise money to help fund a hip replacement. This appeal reached its initial target in mid-November. The appeal was established by Southampton fans and, while the bulk of the monies raised came from fans of Southampton, there were also contributions from fans of his former clubs Norwich City and Chester City.[1] An anonymous Southampton fan has also paid for some dental work.[2]

Davies is also a talented artist and his caricatures of his team-mates often featured in the local press.

External links

References

  • Duncan Holley & Gary Chalk (2003). In That Number - A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X.  
  • Jeremy Wilson (2006). Southampton's Cult Heroes. Know The Score Books. ISBN 1-905449-01-1.  
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