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Ron Henry - 50 years a Spur

Posted on 12 January 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).

Lane legend and Double winner Ron Henry celebrates 50 years of association with the Club today, having signed professional forms with us on January 12, 1955.

To mark this achievement, club historian Andy Porter profiles the career of a White Hart Lane great.

Born at Shoreditch, London on August 17, 1934, Ronald Patrick Henry was one of twin boys, joining an elder sister and three brothers. His father was a furrier by trade and when the family were evacuated from the City to Redbourn in Hertfordshire he continued to travel daily to Bermondsey.

Ron attended junior school in Redbourn and then Manland Secondary Modern School at Harpenden, playing at outside left for the school, district and county boys’ teams.

On leaving school at 15, he worked for the Empire Rubber Company at Dunstable, earning eight pounds per week, playing for Redbourn in the Mid Herts Premier League and Harpenden Town in the Herts County League.

He had a trial with Wolverhampton Wanderers and then signed amateur forms for Luton Town, turning out in their Metropolitan League ‘A’ team.

Called up for National Service in December, 1952, Ron did his basic training at Oswestry and spent the remainder of his two years with the Royal Artillery based at Woolwich — along with future team mate Terry Dyson.

He continued to play for Luton ‘A’ as well as the Army XI. Spotted by one of our scouts playing at Woolwich and invited for a trial, Ron turned out for our Midweek League ‘B’ team in a 3-2 win at Fulham on November 25, 1954. Our line-up was: Smith, Parry, W. Woodhead, M. Lewis, Farley, R. Henry, Dulin, B. Aitchison, Stokes, L. Locke, Dowsett.

Signed on amateur forms four days later Ron was given his ‘A’ team debut in an Eastern Counties League fixture at Stowmarket on December 11 and upgraded to professional forms on January 12, 1955, for a wage of five pounds per week.

Soon promoted to our Combination side, he made his first team debut in a 5-1 win over Swiss club Servette here at White Hart Lane on March 30.

Ron made his Football League debut at Huddersfield Town on April 12, 1955, replacing Harry Clarke at centre half. Soon after, his former club Redbourn received a donation from us, for 26 pounds, five shillings (£26.25)!

With Mel Hopkins at left back, he had to bide his time in our second XI, picking up Football Combination championship medals in both 1955-56 and 1956-57 and a London Challenge Cup winners medal in 1958-59.

Aside from a run during the early part of 1958, he had to wait until November, 1959 for an extended sequence of first team games but then made the position his own until 1965.

Indeed, he became only the seventh player to make 100 or more consecutive Football League appearances for us, being ever-present for 105 games between November, 1959 and April, 1962. With the addition of 25 cup matches the sequence extended to 130 games in all.

The glory years followed with the League and FA Cup ‘Double’, the FA Cup retained in 1962 and European Cup-Winners Cup success the following year. His final first team campaign, 1964-65 saw him captain the side. He did make one further League appearance, against Sheffield United on December 28, 1965, taking his senior tally to 287 competitive appearances.

Rather than move on, Ron stepped down to assist the reserve team to three consecutive Football Combination titles in 1966, 1967 and 1968, leading the side for most of that time from the left half position.

His final season as a player, 1968-69, was spent with our ‘A’ team in the Metropolitan League, winning the Autumn Shield . His final appearance was in the second leg of the final against Sheppey United, a 3-0 home victory to complete an 8-2 aggregate scoreline on May 14, 1969. Our line-up was:
Lee, Cutbush, Bish, T. Naylor, Holder, Henry, Neighbour, Shoemark, Woolcott, Bunkell, Pitt.

Ron’s only League goal came in a home win over Manchester United on February 6, 1965. Described variously as being from 25 to 35 yards range, a Terry Dyson corner ran free for Ron to volley home the only goal in the 19th minute. He told reporter Ken Jones after the game "It was my first and may be my last. But it was worth waiting for.”

He did score 10 goals in competitive matches for our intermediate teams, his first being in a 5-0 Combination win over West Ham United on October 4, 1958. With his tally of reserve, ‘A’ and ‘B’ appearances standing in excess of 300, his overall total for the club was around the 600 mark.

His one selection for the England team was not a happy occasion. Alf Ramsey’s first match in charge saw Ron face France in Paris. The home side won 5-2 on February 27, 1963.

On retiring from playing in 1969 Ron took on the job of coaching our schoolboys on two evenings each week and took charge of our Junior team in the South East Counties League.

March, 1977 saw him make an emergency appearance in our Combination side against Reading here. Unfortunately, a groin injury sustained after 15 minutes saw him replaced by a substitute.

Ron continued with our junior team for a number of years before setting up a School of Excellence at Redbourn which fed into our youth set up. That ran for around 10 years until the present Academy system came into effect. He can still be found attending to our Under-18 team on matchdays, both at Spurs Lodge and around the country.

Having lived in a club house at Ponders End during his playing career, Ron returned to Redbourn on retiring and set up a nursery business on a 14.7 acre site with his brother-in-law. They specialised in bedding, pot and house plants and continued the business until a couple of years ago. His life-long passion though has been breeding and showing Yorkshire canaries.

The Henry family became the first to provide three generations of Spurs players in 1999 when Ron’s grandson Ronnie first played for our youth teams. He followed his father Steve — Ron’s only child - who had played 10 games as a schoolboy for our junior team back in 1972-73.

Ron and his wife Edna are due to celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary in May this year. His sister Maud, twin brother Vic, and elder brothers Ted, Stephen and George all reside at Redbourn.