This is the second and final part of a very interesting interview that took place a few years ago. Once again, thanks to Terry Springett and Mark Jamieson for their help.
SR: Do you remember any memorable games at the Rangers ?
RS: Not really, I obviously remember the League Cup Final at Wembley when they beat West Brom. I wasn’t here as a player, but my brother was.
SR: Ron, you have never decided to do a book.
RS: No, I’ve never done a book. There was a book that a lot of players contributed too though. An old BBC Commentator wrote 8/10 pages on me. I used to meet him on the train a lot.
SR: Going back to Hillsborough, you were a guest of the club and travelled up on the Youth team coach. What are your memories and emotions of that day ?
RS: It was out of this world. We left here at 8.30am, stopped off halfway up the motorway and there was blue and white everywhere. I think it made it better because we were playing Sheffield Wednesday…because it involved my past. Many of the Sheffield Wednesday players that I played with were there and they all supported the Rangers as well, so that was great. They treated us really well and coming back and seeing all that blue and white, the coaches and everything.
SR: You owned a Sports shop on the Uxbridge Road. What happened with that ?
RS: I had the sports business about three years before I packed up. I went there part-time and then in the end it got a bit naughty with people stealing things. I couldn’t leave my wife in there alone at times, so I decided to sell it. During my football career I did an interior decorating course at the local Poly and passed all the tests. At first, I worked for a firm called ‘B.C. Gray’, just in the afternoons for five years. Then the chap died and I opened up my own business and I had that for about twelve years.
SR: We (England) used to have the best keepers in the world. What are your thoughts about that now ?
RS: I still think that we have the best in the world. I think that we command our area a lot better than the continental keepers, although they have improved a hell of a lot. You will now find that one or two of them catch the ball from corners and crosses !!! They used to punch everything.
SR: Your first game for England was against Northern Ireland at Wembley and you saved a penalty from Jimmy McIlroy.
RS: I used to keep a book on where they put their penalties. I used to leave that side open a bit.
SR: The next game was against Scotland at Hampden. The match ended 1-1 but there were 55 free kicks and 3 penalties and two of them were missed. Ray Wilson played with a broken nose and Joe Baker dislocated his shoulder !
RS: I broke my finger in that game. After the match, I got a taxi to take me to the Royal Infirmary. The driver found out who I was and he didn’t charge me. I had quite a good game you see and he said: “I should charge you double because you stopped us from winning.” I think there were 129,000 there that day and not any ounce of trouble,
SR: You received 33 caps and played under two England Managers, Walter Winterbottom and Alf Ramsey. What are your memories of them ?
RS: Walter would sit us down for hours in a room doing tactics. It was fine but when we got out on the pitch he couldn’t realise that they wouldn’t work. Someone would be marking someone, you can’t do anything about that and it used to drag on for hours. Alf Ramsey was entirely different. He would know if you closed your eyes ! A very good trainer and he had Les Cocker and Harold Shepherdson. They were both keen trainers.
SR: How did you receive the news of your call-up ?
RS: I can’t even remember ? I remember when I got my first cap. I was indoors …you think about this nice velvety blue cap and that it’s presented to you. I got up one morning and I heard this rattle at the door and this parcel tried to come through the letter box. When I opened it, it was my first cap. I mean, what a way to get your first cap !!!
SR: The World Cup in Chile. Apparently you were put up somewhere in a remote part of the country.
RS: We even took our own chefs. You walked down the steps of the building and we had the training pitch in front of us. There was a funny story there. Johnny Haynes was my room mate and we were warned to be wary of the poisonous spiders around. We went to a trick shop and the first night we were there, lying in bed, Johnny Haynes said: “How the bloody hell did that (a spider) get up there ?” He thought that it was a joke one but then it moved and Johnny jumped out of bed, ran down on to the training pitch and a dog bit him !!!
SR: You played against Brazil, no Pele, but what was it like facing their banana shots ?
RS: Well, one goal was my fault. It was very difficult when you place a wall, to know if it’s going over or round it.
SR: The 5-2 defeat against France in Paris and Alf Ramsey’s first game in charge. Were you troubled by the floodlights ?
RS: They blamed me for three of the goals. I said no way as one of them was a back pass and I didn’t have a chance with the other two. I could have been at fault with one, possibly two of them.
SR: What about the 9-3 win over Scotland ?
RS: Well everything we touched went in. It Was 3-0 at half-time and Alf said to keep playing football, within a few minutes it was 3-2 !
SR: Were there any characters in the England team ?
RS: Bobby Smith was always up to his tricks. I remember playing in Luxembourg and he came back with all these toys and in the middle were 500 cigarettes. This was at Customs and he wasn’t allowed them !
SR: In 1961, there was the 3-2 victory in Rome and Johnny Haynes led the team in a lap of honour with the Italians throwing things at you.
RS: That was the best game I ever had out there. At the end of the match, they threw everything. As soon as the final whistle went, they started. I’ve got a funny story about Alf Ramsey. When we trained at Roehampton, I used to live round the corner. We had been away on a tour of Finland and Norway. When we arrived back at the training ground, I said to Alf: “Can I pop home to see the wife ?” He said yeah, fine but be back by 2 o’clock. I went home and returned for a practice match. One of the shots went right through my legs. Alf came up to me and said: “That’s the last time you go home !” It was wonderful to take part in a World Cup and then play a part in 1966. The only disappointment was that I didn’t get a medal. Terry Paine didn’t get one either and he played a couple of games. I had a wonderful career, to play for my country was wonderful.
SR: Thanks very much Ron.
(The good news was that Ron did eventually get his medal. FIFA finally agreed to honour the eleven players that missed out as well as Harold Shepherdson, Les Cocker and Sir Alf Ramsey. A year ago, there was an awards ceremony at No. 10 Downing Street and they were guests of honour at the World Cup qualifier between England and Andorra at Wembley. Ron was quoted as saying: “If they’d waited any longer they would have had to dig me up and chuck it in the coffin.”)