Just 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.
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.
by The other Bob Wilson with no comments yet
The death was announced yesterday of former City centre half Danny Malloy who spent six years with the club after signing from Dundee in 1955. I’m too young to have seen Danny play for City, but he is someone whose name nearly always crops up when I discuss great City players with those old enough to have seen him turn out for us.
Under the circumstances, it seems best that I leave it to one of those who grew up watching Malloy play for us, so here’s what regular correspondent Dai Woosnam has to say about him;-
“I saw every home game that Danny Malloy played, and a fair smattering of his away games too. Along with John Charles, Ivor Allchurch and Graham Moore, he was one of the only 4 TRULY GREAT players I saw in a City shirt…I was a bit too young to see Alf Sherwood, other than a couple of games.
Best memory? Not the promotion game against Villa when he spoke from the grandstand to us kids who had spilled on to the pitch in delight. But that amazing game on 28 December 1957 when City were beating LIVERPOOL 5-0 at half time! We kids in the Boys’ Enclosure could not believe it. Nor could manager Trevor Morris as he warned City at half time that “we have not won the game yet!”
And captain Danny famously replied “Och, but we are slight favourites though boss, eh?!”
I remember how after every game, we would run after him for his autograph as he emerged into the car park. His big black car was always gleaming and some boys would put their sweaty fingerprints on it to get their balance, as they jostled for position to get his autograph. And Danny would always sign every one. But the fingerprints would exasperate him. And he would be unable to contain his slight annoyance: he would raise his voice slightly and say “Och, get away from the CAR please laddie!”
Ah, halcyon days indeed.
And the staggering thing is this: for a tenner a week Cardiff let their star player go after the first of the two seasons in the top flight. He was on the then maximum wage of £20 which was abolished that year. He wanted a 50% increase. Bill Jones turned this down by saying “No player is bigger than the club”. (Ah but it turned out that Danny almost WAS !!)
Johnny Haynes was also on the same £20, but that same summer got a staggering 400% increase to become the first £100 a week footballer …and Malloy was every bit as good a footballer, and just as VITAL to the Bluebirds, as Haynes was to Fulham. He wanted a tenner pay rise, not EIGHTY.
We went into the second season with Splott-born Frank Rankmore, who was a decent centre half who looked a bit like Burt Lancaster. But he wasn’t the commanding centre half that Malloy was, and more importantly, was not the LEADER of MEN.
Cardiff have never had such a leader since.
And you know, I genuinely believe that City would have stayed up that second year were Danny at the helm. And who knows? They may then have consolidated and consolidated and done an Arsenal or Everton and never left the top flight since!
All for a tenner! Half a century in the wilderness resulted. Let it be a warning to us all, not to be too parsimonious.”