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*Pat's thanks to Ron

Posted on 25 February 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Taking aside his wonderful playing career, Spurs fans have a lot to thank Ron Burgess the manager for - without him, there might have been no Pat Jennings.


Ron sadly passed away last week. He famously captained the 'push and run' side that gained promotion in 1950 and then won the First Division championship in 1951, a side including the likes of Bill Nicholson and Sir Alf Ramsey.


Ron, who was capped 32 times and also captained Wales, played 457 games for us between 1936-1954, scoring 56 goals.


After leaving the Lane, Ron managed Swansea Town and then Watford where, as Pat himself admitted, he 'took a punt' on a young goalkeeper from Newry Town in Northern Ireland.


Little did he know then that 'Big Pat' would go on to play 673 games for us between 1964-1977 and another 300-plus at Arsenal before winding down his career in a second spell at White Hart Lane. He also played 119 times for Northern Ireland, including two World Cups.


In his time at Spurs, Pat won the FA Cup in 1967, League Cup in 1971 and 1973, UEFA Cup in 1972 and on a personal level, the PFA (1975-76) and Football Writers' Player Of The Year (1972-73) Awards.


It might not have happened though but for Ron, as Pat explained. "I had just come out of the Northern Ireland youth team, we'd played England at Wembley and I was back in Ireland for one day when I got a phone call to say that Watford were interested.


"Ron was manager at the time. I don't know if it was on his recommendation but Watford's chief scout Stan Berry came across to sign me. I was at Newry Town at the time.


"Looking back now, Ron was a real gentleman. I can remember him well from the couple of weeks I had with him at the end of the 1962-63 season.


"We had four games left and Watford were in danger of being relegated, so he didn't play me in the first two of those four games, the late Dave Underwood played, but we did well and it meant we couldn't then be relegated. I then played the final two games, I remember the first was at White City, I think it was 2-2 that day.


"I only had that month with him though. We then had the close season and when I came back, Bill McGarry had taken over."


Pat made such an impact in the following season at Watford that Bill Nicholson splashed out £27,000 for a 19-year-old with only 48 league appearances behind him. It proved to be one of the legendary manager's greatest-ever signings.


Pat was as sad as anyone following Ron's passing, not least because of the role he played in his career.


As he pointed out, Pat didn't really get to know him in the short time they were together at Watford at the end of the 1962-63 season and Pat only caught up with him a couple of times after that.


"I only think I saw Ron once or twice after Watford, possibly when I played for Northern Ireland against Wales. I never really sat down with him," he said.


However, he knew all about his Spurs career. "I can still remember him playing the five-a-sides in the car park at Watford," recalled Pat, who is still out on the training ground at Spurs Lodge. "You could tell what a player he must have been.


"I've heard so much about him in the time I've been involved at Spurs, his reputation, people here comparing him with the best of players we've had over the years.


"Talk about the history of the club, the greats and Ron's name comes to the fore all the time. People have told me he could do everything, skilful, tackled and he captained Wales as well.


"He captained a team to successive titles that included the likes of Sir Alf Ramsey and Bill Nicholson, that says it all."