Skip to main content Skip to site footer


24 August 2012

Richard Day reviews the career of the former Gills winger

Born in Fareham, Ron had played for Newport (Isle of Wight), Woking, Portsmouth, Leyton Orient and Crystal Palace before joining the Gills, under former Pompey boss Freddie Cox, in September 1963.

He made his Gillingham debut against Darlington here at Priestfield Stadium, scoring in the 2-1 victory and went on to score 13 times as the club won promotion as champions of Division Four. His tally included a hat-trick in the 5-1 home thrashing of Southport in December.

Ron replaced Gordon Pulley 17 minutes into the opening day Division Three fixture at Peterborough United in 1965-66, creating history by becoming the club’s first-ever substitute.

The experienced winger went on to make 101 appearances, scoring 22 times, in his three seasons with the Gills.  

Then in January 1967 came his move to the United States where he initially played for the Atlanta Chiefs Chiefs of the National Professional Soccer League and he was voted most valuable player (MVP) in his first season.

During the following season, having scored four and gaining three assists in 18 games for the Chiefs, he was traded to the Dallas Tornado where, in addition to playing, he served as an assistant coach during the 1968 season.

He became player-head coach of Tornado in 1969 and went on to lead them to the NASL championship in 1971. Then at the end of the 1974 season he retired from playing and concentrated on the head coach role.

In 1976, he coached the Los Angeles Skyhawks of the American Soccer League (ASL) taking them to the championship which meant Newman became the only coach to win both an NASL and ASL title. He was also named NASL coach of the year in 1971, 1977 and 1984, as well as ASL coach of the year in 1976.

He returned to the NASL in 1977 as coach of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers where he stayed until 1979, it was during that campaign that he was forced to play one game due to injuries.

In July 1980 Newman became coach of the San Diego Sockers where he won 10 indoor soccer championships during his 11 years with the club, a record unmatched in North American soccer history.

Ron won championships and Coach of the Year honours in four different leagues and was twice named Coach of the Year while with the Sockers.

He became the first coach hired by the MLS when he joined the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in 1995. The Wizards won the Western Division title in 1997.

When he retired from the indoor soccer coaching ranks in 1999 with 753 victories under his belt, no other professional North American coach had even reached the 500-win mark.

He has certainly been recognised for his soccer career States-side having been inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992, the Dallas Walk of Fame (2006), the San Diego Hall of Champions and the Atlanta Soccer Hall of Fame.

Newman also received the 'Key of the City' in Fort Lauderdale and twice in San Diego. The championship trophy of the Professional Arena Soccer League was named the Ron Newman Cup when the present version of the San Diego Sockers honoured him back in January this year.


Advertisement block