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The Gills versus England 1966 | Ron Springett

Andy Ford continues his 1966 series.

26 May 2020

Ron Springett began his career at Queens Park Rangers, making his début for the club in 1953, and his stint with the London outfit included two years out for national service, during which he spent time in Egypt during the Suez crisis.

He moved to Sheffield Wednesday for £10,000 in 1958, making 384 appearances for the Owls, before returning to QPR in 1967, part of the deal including his brother, Peter, who was also a goalkeeper, moving in the opposite direction.

When Ron joined Wednesday, as he was reluctant to leave his home city, he was allowed to continue living in London, training with QPR during the week and joining the rest of his teammates on Saturdays. It was an indication of Wednesday’s desperation at the time to sign a quality goalkeeper.

Springett was the fifth goalie to appear for the club during a disastrous season, which culminated in relegation to Division Two. He played for the Owls in the 1966 FA Cup Final, which they lost 3-2 to Everton, having led 2-0.

Ron won thirty-three England caps, with his début coming in a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland at Wembley, on 18 November 1959, during which he saved a penalty, and remained first-choice until the emergence of Gordon Banks in 1963. Springett played in all four of England’s matches at the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile, when Banks was his understudy, three group games, a 2-1 defeat against Hungary, 3-1 victory over Argentina and a 0-0 draw with Bulgaria, and the Quarter Final, when we went out of the competition after losing 3-1 to Brazil.

By the time England next faced Brazil, in a May 1963 friendly at Wembley, Walter Winterbottom had been replaced as manager by Alf Ramsey and the new boss selected Banks over Springett. Although Ron was involved in warm-up matches for the 1966 World Cup, it was Banks alone who kept goal during our victorious campaign, and Springett’s final appearance for his country was a 6-1 thrashing of Norway in June 1966 in Oslo, in a World Cup warm-up game.

Ron played against Gillingham on four occasions, all during his first spell at Queens Park Rangers and all Division Three South games in 1957. He kept a clean sheet in the first two, a 1-0 victory for the Hoops at Priestfield on 9 March and a 5-0 win on 29 April. The two sides next met on Christmas Day that year at Gillingham, when Wendell Morgan scored for us in a 1-1 draw. The return took place on the following day and again ended 1-1, Ron Saunders with our goal on this occasion.

Springett retired from professional football in 1969 but continued to play, as a centre-forward, for a Sunday league team. He opened a sports shop not far from QPR’s stadium and, after selling the business three years later, set himself up as an interior decorator and, later, as a gardener. He died on 12 September 2015, at the age of 80. Sheffield Wednesday honoured the goalkeeper by featuring him on the cover of the matchday programme and observing a minute’s applause, prior to the home game against Fulham, a week after his death.

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