Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ron Henry - a Tottenham Legend

It was sad to read in yesterday's newspapers that while Ronnie Henry is playing against Tottenham in the FA Cup 5th Round game at the Lamex Stadium, his grandfather, the legendary 'Double' winning full back, Ron Henry, is unable to attend as he is in a care home suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Ron Henry
Ron Henry was an ever-present member of the 1960-61 team which won the 1st Division title and the FA Cup.  Playing at left back he was an important part of the Tottenham successes of the early 1960s.  He developed a good understanding with his full back partner, Peter Baker and while others were making the headlines Henry was an unsung hero.

He had joined Spurs in 1953 as an amateur, turning professional two years later and making his debut against Huddersfield Town in April, 1955, playing at centre half.  In each of the next two seasons, he made just one appearance at his traditional left back position.  In the first half of season 1957-58 he again had only one solitary match but in February, 1958 he got his chance replacing the Welsh international, Mel Hopkins, who was injured playing for his country.  Henry held his place for the final fourteen games of the season.  At the start of the next season, Henry played in the opening two games but with Spurs losing heavily, Hopkins reclaimed the position and Henry played in only six more matches that year.

In November, 1959 Hopkins broke his nose on international duty and Henry came in as his replacement.  He played throughout that season and over the next three seasons missed only one game, through injury in April, 1962.  A reliable player, he was rarely injured and having bided his time became part of Tottenham's greatest ever team as they won the League title, two FA Cup Finals and the European Cup Winners' Cup trophy in 1963.

In season 1963-64 he made 29 League appearances and the folowing year he captained the side in place of the injured Dave Mackay, playing in all but one of the League matches.  That was his last season as a regular - he made just one further appearance, Cyril Knowles having established himself at left back.

In total, Ron Henry made 287 League and Cup appearances for Tottenham.  He scored only one goal but it was worth waiting for as it came in his final full season in February 1965, the only goal against Manchester United at White Hart Lane.

Troubled by injury he stepped down to the reserve team where he played for another four seasons, using his experience to help the development of the younger players and than on retiring from playing he assisted by coaching the junior teams at Spurs for many years.

Ron Henry was a loyal Spurs player.  He was a sound defender and had great positional sense.  He won just one England cap, in Alf Ramsey first match as manager.

Ron's grandson, Ronnie, was on Tottenham's books as a junior and progressed through the reserves to the verge of the first team but apart from a few appearances in friendlies didn't make it into the first team.  Having left Tottenham, he at first had difficulty finding a club but established himself with Stevenage in the Conference and has helped them to promotion to the Football League and into League One.


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