The Gills versus England 1966 | Ron Flowers

Andy Ford's series of articles continues with former Wolves midfielder Ron Flowers.

Ron Flowers made his England début in a friendly against France in May 1955, the first of forty-nine caps, and he captained his country on three occasions.

From his second international appearance, in November 1958, until April 1963, he played in forty consecutive England matches. Ron scored ten goals for his country, including one in each of the first two games of the 1962 World Cup Finals, both penalties, in a 2-1 defeat against Hungary and 3-1 victory over Argentina.

He was a non-playing squad member for England in 1966, having made what turned out to be his last appearance for his country in a friendly against Finland, twelve days before the start of the World Cup Finals. The oldest member of the squad, he turned 32 two days before the Final, which he narrowly missed out on playing in. On the night before the game against West Germany, he was put on standby by manager Alf Ramsey as Jack Charlton was despatched to bed with a chest cold.

Flowers didn’t allow himself to get too excited. Looking back, in 2016, he recalled, with a wry smile, “I knew Jack would play. He wasn’t going to miss playing in a World Cup Final at Wembley. He’d have played with one leg. I’d seen Jack and knew he’d be okay and he was right as rain in the morning.”

Ron played for Wolves between 1952 and 1967, winning three league titles and the FA Cup once, in 1960, during his time with the club. He was initially an attacking midfielder, before playing in a more defensive role later in his career. Flowers left the Molineux club in September 1967 and joined Northampton Town, firstly as a player, before a year as player-manager, prior to his departure in May 1969. He ended his career at non-league Wellington Town (latterly known as Telford United) as player-manager, before retiring to run a sports shop in Wolverhampton.

It was whilst he was with Northampton that Flowers faced the Gills, on two occasions, both at the County Ground. The first took place on Saturday 16 December 1967 and ended 1-1, Brian Gibbs putting us in front in the 54th minute, before Don Martin’s shot from thirty yards out rescued a point for the hosts, who had been relegated from the second tier at the end of the previous season, with eleven minutes remaining.

The second match was on Tuesday 5 December 1968 and we won 1-0, courtesy of a twenty-third minute goal from Brian Yeo. Flowers was unable to preserve Northampton’s status at the end of that campaign and their fourth from bottom final placing saw them relegated to the basement division. The Gills survived after finishing one point and one place above the Cobblers.

Like the other ten members of England’s 1966 World Cup squad that didn’t play in the Final, Ron, who is now eighty-five years of age, received his medal in June 2009. Three years later he handed it over to be displayed at the Wolves Museum, saying, “This medal is one of my proudest possessions and I cannot think of a better place for it to be than at Molineux. I was delighted to loan the medal to the club.”