ronnie henry ... 
like grandfather, like grandson

This article originally appeared in 
MEHSTG Vol. 2 Issue 20 (April 2001)

A defender with a familiar name is playing in our academy ranks. He is Ronnie Henry, the 17-year-old grandson of Ron Henry who was the left back in the great Double side. Ronnie has a lot to do to live up to his grandad. Ron was originally an amateur with Spurs who joined the army and later signed professional for Spurs in 1955. He had earlier had a trial for Wolves at outside left. His first wage at Spurs was £5 a week and his father was not pleased because Ron had been earning £8 a week prior to joining the army at The Empire Rubber Company.

It took Ron a while to make his mark at Spurs. Mel Hopkins was the regular first team left back and he was also a fixture in the Welsh national side so Ron only made a total of three appearances in the top flight in his first three seasons. During the next two seasons, Ron made 15 and 8 appearances respectively, but his big chance came in 1959 when Mel broke his nose playing for his country and Ron made the position his own with 25 appearances and became Billy Nick's first choice. During the next three seasons from 1960-1 to 1962-63, Ron was playing at the top of his game and won the coveted double and another FA Cup Winner's medal and a winners medal in the European Cup Winners' Cup. Ron was ever present during the Double season and only missed one game in the next two seasons.

Ron was a very consistent performer and although he was never the centre of attention in the Super Spurs side, he was very effective. He had to be solid in such an attacking team, because in the days of 2-3-5, he was often left exposed by the natural instincts of Dave Mackay, the left-half in front of him. Ron always tried to thwart attacks down his flank by clever positional play in trying to make the opposing forwards go to the flanks and away from the dangerous penalty box area. In the early sixties there were many good natural wingers who Ron had to mark and he was always reliable in the tackle and was good in the air. One of his strengths was the sliding tackle which he timed well. Although he was not the best left back in the country, many people thought that Ron and Peter Baker at Spurs were the best pair of full backs in the League. That was one of the features of Spurs in the early sixties, they were a team and they played as a team. Ron knew Dave Mackay’s strengths in attacking forays and he would charge up the flank to support the Scot to be ready for a pass and to make a challenge. It was in defence that Ron made his mark and he was always willing to support a colleague. He had gone through the army with Terry Dyson so their friendship helped the team as well.

 

 

 

Ronnie : "It's my ball and
you can't have
it Mackay !"

 

 

 

One of Ron's best games was In the 2-0 win over Leicester in the 1961 Final which clinched the Double but he only went on to win one England cap in the 1963 defeat against France. He scored his only goal in the first team at Spurs in the 1964-65 season when he only missed one game. The next campaign was his last in the first team when he played only once as Cyril Knowles took his place. Ron stayed at the club playing in the Combination side and afterwards helping the youth players develop by even playing in the Metropolitan League side with them. Ron made 28 appearances in the 1967-68 season for that side before retiring and concentrating on training the Youth Team for many more years. Ron gave Spurs great service for 10 years at the top and for 13 years as a player in all ranks. This loyal club man set an example at all levels that is hard to emulate. He is a great example of a player working hard at his game to get his chance in the top flight. It took him five years to oust Mel Hopkins and he had six consistent seasons afterwards.

Ron was one of Spurs' best ever left backs. Perhaps only Cyril has surpassed him, but Ron was a great team player and a pivotal member of the great side. Young Ronnie at the club now has to work hard like his granddad and let us hope that he can go some way to emulate him.

Richard Porter

Generations of Henry's have played for Spurs.

Ron's nephew John was a Youth team player in the 1970-71 season.

Grandson Ronnie played for the first team in friendlies and ended up at Stevenage.

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