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Ron Tindall sadly passed away on September 9, 2012 aged 76. His football career included a 12 month stay with West Ham in the early Sixties.
Reading about Ron Tindall’s sporting career made me very envious as he was fortunate and privileged to have enjoyed a very varied and fascinating career competing, coaching and managing at a top level which bought him into contact with many of the football and cricket superstars of his day. At various times he had Jimmy Greaves, Roy Bentley, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Johnny Byrne as football team mates. While at Surrey County Cricket Club his notable colleagues included Alec Bedser, Jim Laker, Ken Barrington and John Edrich. He also came close to playing football for England when selected for the Football League XI in 1957. After retiring from the playing field his sporting career continued into managing Portsmouth and coaching in Australia.
Transfer to West Ham
Following the retirement of prolific goalscorer Vic Keeble, the Hammers struggled in the early Sixties to find a suitable replacement which resulted in Ron Greenwood turning to the transfer market. To fill the gap Greenwood signed Tindall in a transfer deal which saw half back Andy Malcolm move in the opposite direction. Ron’s pedigree at Chelsea was impressive. A record of 69 goals in 174 appearances, which included playing alongside some illustrious names, including Roy Bentley and Jimmy Greaves. During his Chelsea days he gained representative honours with selection for the Football League v the League of Ireland in October 1957.
Andy Malcolm (left) shakes hands with Ron Tindall with Ron Greenwood of the Hammers and Tommy Docherty of Chelsea in the background
The story behind the transfer is that the Chelsea management were infuriated as they believed that Tindall had been the subject of illegal overtures from West Ham while the two teams shared a train back to London. However, his claret and blue career turned out to be very short. The bold statistics show that in season 1961-62 he played 13 Division One games and scored three goals, plus a solitary appearance in the FA Cup.
To help Ron settle in, his first two appearances in claret & blue were in the Football Combination. The first game was a 2-1 win over Peterborough United Reserves (Nov 11). As an aside it is interesting to review the reserve team that day as many went on to have distinguished careers. All eleven players in the team that day had or would go on to play league games for the Hammers.
The West Ham Reserve team was:
Brian Rhodes, Eddie Presland, Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington, Bill Lansdowne, Martin Peters, Tony Scott, Ron Boyce, Ron Tindall¸ Mick Beesley and Ron Brett.
A week later he opened his West Ham goal account when scoring with a header for the reserves in their 4-0 win over Shrewsbury Town Reserves.
Two Goals in 2nd Division One Appearance
The following Saturday November 25, 1961 Ron made his West Ham United league debut in the 3-1 Upton Park victory over Everton. Seven days later an unchanged team faced Arsenal at Highbury. This turned out possibly to be Ron’s most impressive performance for the club as he scored both of West Ham’s goals in the 2-2 draw. The result of the next league game was more memorable as the Hammers clinched a 2-1 win away at Old Trafford.
His third and final league goal turned out to be on Boxing Day in the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers. In January he was in the team which suffered an early FA Cup exit at the hands of Plymouth Argyle. Thereafter Ron’s first team appearances were spasmodic as Greenwood recalled Alan Sealey.
Hat Trick in Friendly
As the Hammers had lost interest in 1962’s FA Cup they had no competitive fixture at the end of January and instead made a mini tour of the south coast for a couple of back to back friendlies. The first friendly was on Friday 26 at The Dell, followed by a Saturday fixture at The Goldstone Ground. The Southampton friendly turned out to be one of the highlights in Ron’s short West Ham career. The Hammers won 6-2 with Ron scoring a hat-trick in front of an 8,000 crowd. The next day’s fortunes reversed as Brighton & Hove Albion won 3-1. Just over a month later on March 5 Ron was again in the first team for the friendly defeat at Reading.
Partnership with Johnny Byrne
In one way the Reading friendly was an important game as three days later Ron Greenwood signed another forward who would later turn out to be one of Ron’s most shrewd purchases. Johnny Byrne joined the Hammers from Crystal Palace in a £65,000 deal. Following a 6-0 defeat away at Burnley Ron Greenwood recalled Tindall and included Byrne for his West Ham debut. For the next six league games Tindall and Byrne played alongside each other but the partnership made little impact. In these six games neither player scored and the team only managed three goals, all scored by Malcolm Musgrove! Ron Greenwood must have been pulling his hair out at this point. Two purchases and still no apparent answer to the Hammers’ goal scoring problem. Those six league games alongside Johnny Byrne proved to be the last of his 13 league appearances for West Ham. Curiously Ron’s first and last league appearances for the Hammers were both against Everton. He started with a 3-1 victory and finished with a 3-0 defeat.
The only change to the published line-up in the match programme that day, Geoff Hurst played at No.4 with Bobby Moore in his famous No.6 shirt
Ron Tindall's shot is saved by Everton's Albert Dunlop
County Cricket Cap for Surrey
A clause in Ron’s contract allowed him an early release at the end of the season and a late start to the following season to pursue his love of county cricket with Surrey. This meant his last game for the Hammers that season was on April 14 and his first match in 1962-63 turned out to be on September 8. In between those dates Ron won his county cap.
Late Start to 1962-63 Season
A five month break from football meant Ron missed the club’s June tour of Africa, the August first team friendlies and the very early Division 1 matches. Not kicking a football in anger and missing so much first team football must have had a detrimental affect on a recall to the first XI.
On his return to West Ham he found himself belatedly starting his season with two Saturday reserve team games on September 8th and 15th. The first match was encouraging as the Hammers’ reserves thrashed Bristol Rovers Reserves 6-1 at Upton Park with Ron scoring twice. For his third, fourth and fifth games of the season it was all change for Ron. He was in the A team for three Metropolitan League matches. The opposition were Guildford City Reserves (Sat September 22), Metropolitan Police (Wed Sept 26) and Bedford Town Reserves (Sat September 29). Surprise selections with Ron tried out as centre half in all three games. Ten days later on October 9, with the door to the first team seemingly closed, Ron left West Ham to join Reading for a fee of £12,000. During his West Ham tenure Ron managed 3-3-3: three league goals, three goals in a first team friendly and three for the reserve team.
The Biscuitmen & Pompey
With Reading his strike rate improved as he scored 12 goals in 36 games. In September 1964 Ron moved on to Portsmouth. After failing to score in his first 15 games he decided to fall back and finish his career as a defender, as well as club captain. His Portsmouth stint saw 162 league games with 7 goals. In March 1970 he was appointed as the club’s manager and in the spring of 1973 he moved up to general manager. In 1975 he left Portsmouth and two years later emigrated to Western Australia where he took up the role of state director of football coaching.
Board minutes relating to transfers dated 23rd October 1962
County Cricket Career
As a middle order batsman and off-break bowler he was on Surrey’s books from 1956 to 1966. In first XI games for Surrey he scored 5,446 runs at an average of 24.86, hit two centuries (highest 109 not out), and 28 fifties. The summer of 1963 was his best for runs when he scored over 1,000 runs for the season.
With the ball he took 150 wickets at an average of 32.38 runs and his most successful season was 1962, after the retirement of the off-spinners Jim Laker and Alec Bedser, when he took 66 wickets with an average of 23.92 runs.
Ron emigratied to Western Australia, where he became an Exective Officer for the Western Australian Coaching Foundation. He remained there for the rest of his life.
1964 Surrey County
Standing: A. Long, R, Harman, G.G. Arnold, R.A.E. Tindall, S.J. Storey, M.D. Willett, W.A. Smith, D.A.D. Sydenham
Seated: K.F. Barrington, M.J. Stewart (captain), J.H. Edrich, D. Gibson
Date of Birth:
September 23, 1935
1 FA Cup