Billy Ronson 1957-2015.

CoymayJust a few quick words about our former player Billy Ronson who passed away yesterday at the age of just 58. Ronson began his career at Blackpool and, after an early loan spell in America with Fort Lauderdale Strikers, became an established part of the their midfield before we paid what was a club record fee of £130,000 at the time to bring him to Cardiff in the summer of 1979.

By City standards of that time, Ronson was part of a successful team during his first season with us – after years of continual struggle in the old Division Two, we finally had a side that made it into mid table! In fact, the 1979/80 season was a little like this current campaign in that we were never serious promotion contenders and we always seemed to put a little run of results together whenever we started dropping too close to the lower reaches of the table. Like the current side, the 79/80 team were pretty solid defensively, but were lacking when it came to flair and entertainment. However, although Ronson did not lack natural ability, he was not in the side to provide frills and skills and it could be said that he did his job more than adequately, while those charged with being our play makers weren’t good enough at theirs.

Never known for his goalscoring, Ronson did get what was probably the most satisfying goal of that season when his second half effort proved enough to beat Swansea in the first league derby at Ninian Park for fifteen years, but he became frustrated as the 1980/81 season developed into another slog against relegation. He had long since make clear his determination to leave the club and he didn’t stay for long during his third season at Cardiff as Wrexham paid £90,000 for him in October 1981 with City recouping most of the money they had spent on Dave Bennett a week or so earlier.

Billy Ronson practices his ball skills with his father on an interesting looking pitch in 1977.

Billy Ronson practices his ball skills with his father on an interesting looking pitch in 1977.

Ronson left a poor City side destined for relegation, but his new team fared no better as they joined us in making the drop to the Third Division and, while City fought back with a promotion in 82/83, Wrexham’s decline continued as they suffered another relegation. By that time, Ronson had moved to Barnsley and it was here that he probably had the best spell of his career as he enjoyed three seasons of regular football in a team that was an established second division outfit at the time. After a brief loan spell at Birmingham, Ronson returned to Blackpool, but only played three times for them before moving to America in 1986 where he played nearly 300 indoor games for Baltimore Blast (he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2009) and kept on playing at various levels until 1999 when he was in his early forties – he also did some coaching and managing in the American indoor soccer scene as he made his home in that country.

According to his ex City colleague, Ron Healey, Billy had not enjoyed the best of health in recent years and so, it may be that his death did not come as a shock to those who knew him well, but it certainly did to this City fan who is saddened by the passing of another ex City player who is younger than him.

RIP Billy Ronson, a player who was good enough to have played for better Cardiff sides than the ones he turned out for.


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2 Responses to Billy Ronson 1957-2015.

  1. RickQ says:

    I grew up with Billy in Fleetwood, and the photo was taken at our home town’s Highbury ground. The ground has been much developed since the Lancs Combination/Northern Premier League days when Billy’s Dad, Percy (a former – and very prestigious – player), was groundsman. Percy used to give us chip money for taking the nets down after games, which was a cheap day out for us because we used to climb over the wall to get into the ground in the first place!

  2. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Great to hear from you Rick. I was born a year before Billy, so you can understand why news of his death came as such a shock, but it was more than that, he was such a vibrant player and he had the energy levels of a young man – even when I’d see him playing for Barnsley as a near thirty year old.
    Best of luck for the new season at Fleetwood, it’s great to see how much your club has come along in quite a short length of time.
    I see you’ve signed Aaron Holloway for this season, he’s from the same part of Cardiff as me and lived about a quarter of a mile from me when he was a kid. He’s a very talented lad, but he really could do with a rocket up his backside at times, I don’t know if it’s because he’s too easy going or what, but sometimes I wonder if he really wants to be a pro footballer – that may explain why you never know what you are going to get from him from one game to the next. However, if a manager somewhere can get him playing to his potential for a sustained period, then they’ll have someone who, in terms of talent, should have been in the Wales squad for the Euros on their hands.

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