Danny Hall Column: The day Wednesday's Ron Springett was called up by England... via a newspaper!

Ron Springett died at the weekend, at the age of 80
Ron Springett died at the weekend, at the age of 80
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It was a golden age for newspapers and, arguably, for football, too.

Ron Springett is remembering the time he fulfilled probably every schoolboy’s dream and was called up for England. In 2015, with social media prevalent and all number of hangers-on all too keen to share in glory, one imagines it would be hard to avoid.

But Springett’s magic moment came via the medium of good, old-fashioned newsprint.

“There were rumours for a while of an international call-up and I knew I must have a chance as I was playing quite well,” said the former goalkeeper, who had just joined Sheffield Wednesday when the call-up came.

“Then I picked up a newspaper one day and the headline was ‘ENGLAND PICKS SPRINGETT’. No one told me first! I just read about it in the ‘paper.

“I made my England debut against Northern Ireland in 1959 and I went on to play in the 1962 World Cup Finals out in Chile.

“We got knocked out in the quarter-finals by Brazil. Then I was a member of the 1966 World Cup winning squad.”

What a way to begin an England career that would take Springett, who passed away at the weekend, right to the very peak of the game.

His club career began in quaint fashion, too; as a 17-year-old, Springett secured trials at Fulham and QPR by writing letters to Craven Cottage and Loftus Road.

His Fulham audition saw he, and another rookie goalkeeper, stationed in one goal as Johnny Haynes blasted balls at them both.

Springett pictured in 2009, on his last visit to Hillsborough

Springett pictured in 2009, on his last visit to Hillsborough

Shambolically, each kept leaving shots to the other.

QPR saw the more promising offer of two trial matches. Springett shone, and was offered a game for the club’s youth team at Watford.

He broke his finger in the game, but had done enough to persuade QPR to offer him a professional deal.

Rangers got a good return on their £10 signing bonus when they sold Springett to Wednesday for £10,000 in 1958. Eric Taylor, then in charge of the Owls, knew he had signed a real player.

Another Yorkshire sporting great, Brian Close, also died this week

Another Yorkshire sporting great, Brian Close, also died this week

“When I joined Wednesday, they were a big club in the First Division," Springett said,

“Eric Taylor said: ‘If you sign for us, I guarantee you will be playing for England within 18 months.’

“And that’s what happened.”

Success followed with Wednesday, too. The Owls reached the top flight with him in goal in 1959, and Springett narrowly failed to achieve a club-and-country double in 1966 when Wednesday lost 3-2 to Everton in that year’s FA Cup final.

A year later, he returned to QPR in an unprecedented deal - which saw his brother, Peter, move in the opposite direction to Hillsborough.

Ron was honoured at Hillsborough one last time, though, with a testimonial against Sheffield United and, in 2009, he finally received a World Cup winners’ medal from then-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

The former Yorkshire and England captain was famed for his bravery

The former Yorkshire and England captain was famed for his bravery

His place in Owls folklore is secure; he remains the club’s most-capped England player, and is one of Hillsborough’s favourite adopted sons.

So rest in peace, Ronald Deryk George “Ron” Springett; a true England hero, fashioned in Fulham, but forged in the Steel City.

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Days after Springett’s passing, news broke of the death of another Yorkshire sporting great, Brian Close.

Close built a career as a talented cricketer but established a reputation as a fierce competitor, as brave as they come.

How can the ball hurt you, he’d ask, when it was only on you for a second? Easy for him to say, it seemed. Close, harder than any nail you’ll ever find, collected bruises like some kept stamps and took particular punishment at the hands of Michael Holding when England faced the West Indies in the 1970s.

Close, wearing bouncer after bouncer, was 45 years old. Cancer eventually claimed him earlier this week, aged 84 but, typically, he put up one hell of a fight.

Reader Eric Holland emailed in this week to offer his own tribute: “Brian was so good at encouraging interest in cricket.

“As a Derbyshire lad, my pals and I looked forward to the annual Yorkshire visit to Queens Park. Jimmy Binks was always the first to arrive, usually followed by Close.

“The pair would sign autographs and chat to the kids, answering questions and sometimes playing in a impromptu game, though Brian usually had a mug of tea in one hand at the time.

“He’ll be long remembered.”