"Big" Ron Atkinson
Ron Atkinson was born in Liverpool
, just before the start of WWII
. A talented wing-half
, he signed for Aston Villa
in 1956, but failed to make the first team. Three years later, he was given a free transfer to Southern League
team Headington United
, later to become Oxford United
. With Oxford
, he won the Southern League
twice in 1962 and 1963, before it became Division One
. Ron continued to play for Oxford
until 1971, making 500 appearances. From there, he took on the role of player-manager of Kettering Town
, earning them promotion to Division Two
in his first season.
His first management job proper was with Cambridge United
, which was followed by a stint at West Bromwich Albion
before landing one of the biggest jobs in the country - Manchester United
. He managed the club for five years from 1981 to 1986 and won two FA Cups
, but failed to win the league.
After a brief time in Spain (96 days, to be precise) managing Atletico Madrid
, he returned to Blighty
to manage strugglers Sheffield Wednesday
. He dodged relegation
in the first season, but wasn't so lucky second time round. However, he brought the club straight back up and won the League Cup
. This was followed with a two year stewardship of Aston Villa
, where he also captured a league cup before runinng afoul of "Deadly" Doug Ellis
. His last management job was in 1995 with eternal relegation candidates Coventry City
As both player and manager, it has to be said that Big Ron's contribution was pretty minimal
. What he will always be remembered for is his punditry. He is the James Joyce
of football commentators. Sure, there are other sports commentators who can mangle a metaphor, and we've all laughed at Murray Walker
saying something daft. But while other commentators like Clive Tyldesley
and John Motson
merely sound stupid, Big Ron's
" sound like broadcasts from another dimension, a universe which bears only the slightest of similarities to ours. To listen to Ron commentate is to go on an Jabberwockian
exploration of the greatest depths of English language
, not to mention the human psyche
. Whether he's subverting clichés ("I tell you what, I wouldn't swap David Beckham
for all the money in China") or producing breath-taking non sequiters ("He's tried to play the Marilyn Monroe
shot there", "Oh, that's a lollipop ball"), there is only one way to appreciate Ron's true genius. That is to take lots and lots of acid beforehand.
- "Beckenbauer has really gambled all his eggs."
- "He must be lightning slow."
- "He sliced the ball when he had it on a plate."
- "I think that was a moment of cool panic there."
- "I'm afraid they've left their legs at home."
- "I've had this sneaking feeling throughout the game that it's there to be won..."
- "Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw."
- "Zero-zero is a big score."
- "The defenders are all on armchairs tonight"
- "He dribbles a lot and the opposition don't like it - you can see it on their faces."
- "I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that pratt."
- "I'm going to make a prediction - it could go either way."
- "Phil Neville was treading on dangerous water there..."
- "Woodcock would have scored, but his shot was too perfect."
- "The midfield is outnumbered numerically."
- "There's nobody fitter at his age, except maybe Raquel Welch"
- "Well, Clive, it's all about the two M's - movement and positioning."
- "I tell you what, if the Cameroons get a goal back here they're literally gonna catch on fire."
- "He's not only a good player, but he's spiteful in the nicest sense of the word."
- "...and he Peter Schmeichel extends and grows even bigger than he is."
- "They've picked their heads up off the ground, and they now have a lot to carry on their shoulders."
- "Now Manchester United are 2-1 down on aggregate, they are in a better position than when they started the game at 1-1"
- "A ten-foot keeper really should have stopped that"
- "His white boots were on fire against Arsenal, and he'll be looking for them to reproduce tonight."