Ron Burgess – A legendary Leader
With no Welsh participation in this year’s Russia World Cup, The betting sites outside chance England are the only British country involved. They are captained by Tottenham superstar Harry Kane. Inside Welsh Sport takes a look at the career of one of Wales own and Spurs’ past world class leaders. Ron Burgess; a player that inspired and shaped the Welsh team that would eventually go on to play in the 1958 World Cup and the only time Wales have qualified for a World Cup tournament. Here we introduce the legendary Welsh Captain.
Ron Burgess was part of the 1950’s Welsh “Golden Generation” with stars such as Ivor Allchurch, Cliff Jones, Alf Sherwood, Jack Kelsey, Trevor Ford, Terry Medwin and John Charles.
Ron Burgess was both a player and manager. He was born in the Monmouthshire village of Cwm in 1917 where he was a miner before eventually becoming a professional footballer. Burgess played for only two clubs, namely Tottenham Hotspur 1938-54 and Swansea Town 1954-56. He was also capped 32 times by Wales between 1946-54. In addition, Ron managed Swansea Town 1955-58 and Watford 1959-63. He was also the first Welshman to play for a Great Britain select team, playing against the Rest of Europe in 1947. William Arthur Ronald Burgess died in Swansea on 14 February 2005 aged 87.
A young Ron Burgess initially showed promise as a centre-forward and caught the attention of Cardiff City whom he later joined as an amateur. He later left Cardiff after things didn’t progress to work down the pits as a miner and started playing for the local team, Cwm Villa. It was when he scored a massive 59 goals in one season for Cwm that Spurs were alerted and he signed amateur terms in 1936.
At first Burgess failed to impress as a striker for Tottenham but later tried out as a “right half” for their reserve side, were his muscular frame, energy and willingness to get forward stood him out above what Spurs already had. He subsequently turned professional in 1938 aged just 21 and made his senior debut against Norwich in 1939.
Burgess was an enthusiastic, influential midfielder with boundless energy who was well known for his leadership qualities, captaining both Tottenham to the Championship title in 1951 and captaining the Welsh side gaining 32 caps in total, most of which were as skipper. He was often referred to as a midfield workhorse but he offered much more than that being both very quick and also very comfortable with the ball at his feet. He had the added bonus of being an exceptional player in the air.
It was after WW2 that Burgess really started to shine for Tottenham becoming club captain ahead of the inspirational figures of Alf Ramsey and Bill Nicholson, a real testament of his leadership qualities. He is regarded by many as one of the best midfield players that Wales and Tottenham have ever had.
Burgess later joined second division Swansea Town in 1954 aged 38. He continued playing until 1956, taking over as manager of Swansea Town from 1955 to 1958 first as player/manager. He later went on to manage Watford, Hendon and Bedford Town before finishing as a coach at Fulham. His managerial career didn’t quite live up to his great playing career, having mixed success. Although he did manage the National side for one game in 1965 due to the unavailability of manager Dave Bowen.
A blue plaque was erected in 2014 in honour of Ron Burgess in his hometown of Cwm by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. A “Welsh Footballing Giant” as described by another legend Neville Southall.
Who will be the inspirational leader at the Russia World Cup 2018, who gets to ultimately lift the trophy. Will it be Lloris, Lucio, Hazard or maybe Kane? Latest odds are here