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"Big" Ron Atkinson

The Player
Ron Atkinson was born in Liverpool, just before the start of WWII. A talented wing-half, he signed for Aston Villa in 1956, but failed to make the first team. Three years later, he was given a free transfer to Southern League team Headington United, later to become Oxford United. With Oxford, he won the Southern League twice in 1962 and 1963, before it became Division One. Ron continued to play for Oxford until 1971, making 500 appearances. From there, he took on the role of player-manager of Kettering Town, earning them promotion to Division Two in his first season.

The Manager
His first management job proper was with Cambridge United, which was followed by a stint at West Bromwich Albion before landing one of the biggest jobs in the country - Manchester United. He managed the club for five years from 1981 to 1986 and won two FA Cups, but failed to win the league.

After a brief time in Spain (96 days, to be precise) managing Atletico Madrid, he returned to Blighty to manage strugglers Sheffield Wednesday. He dodged relegation in the first season, but wasn't so lucky second time round. However, he brought the club straight back up and won the League Cup. This was followed with a two year stewardship of Aston Villa, where he also captured a league cup before runinng afoul of "Deadly" Doug Ellis. His last management job was in 1995 with eternal relegation candidates Coventry City

The Pundit
As both player and manager, it has to be said that Big Ron's contribution was pretty minimal. What he will always be remembered for is his punditry. He is the James Joyce of football commentators. Sure, there are other sports commentators who can mangle a metaphor, and we've all laughed at Murray Walker saying something daft. But while other commentators like Clive Tyldesley and John Motson merely sound stupid, Big Ron's "Ronisms" sound like broadcasts from another dimension, a universe which bears only the slightest of similarities to ours. To listen to Ron commentate is to go on an Jabberwockian exploration of the greatest depths of English language, not to mention the human psyche. Whether he's subverting clich├ęs ("I tell you what, I wouldn't swap David Beckham for all the money in China") or producing breath-taking non sequiters ("He's tried to play the Marilyn Monroe shot there", "Oh, that's a lollipop ball"), there is only one way to appreciate Ron's true genius. That is to take lots and lots of acid beforehand.

The Quotes
  • "Beckenbauer has really gambled all his eggs."
  • "He must be lightning slow."
  • "He sliced the ball when he had it on a plate."
  • "I think that was a moment of cool panic there."
  • "I'm afraid they've left their legs at home."
  • "I've had this sneaking feeling throughout the game that it's there to be won..."
  • "Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw."
  • "Zero-zero is a big score."
  • "The defenders are all on armchairs tonight"
  • "He dribbles a lot and the opposition don't like it - you can see it on their faces."
  • "I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that pratt."
  • "I'm going to make a prediction - it could go either way."
  • "Phil Neville was treading on dangerous water there..."
  • "Woodcock would have scored, but his shot was too perfect."
  • "The midfield is outnumbered numerically."
  • "There's nobody fitter at his age, except maybe Raquel Welch"
  • "Well, Clive, it's all about the two M's - movement and positioning."
  • "I tell you what, if the Cameroons get a goal back here they're literally gonna catch on fire."
  • "He's not only a good player, but he's spiteful in the nicest sense of the word."
  • "...and he Peter Schmeichel extends and grows even bigger than he is."
  • "They've picked their heads up off the ground, and they now have a lot to carry on their shoulders."
  • "Now Manchester United are 2-1 down on aggregate, they are in a better position than when they started the game at 1-1"
  • "A ten-foot keeper really should have stopped that"
  • "His white boots were on fire against Arsenal, and he'll be looking for them to reproduce tonight."


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