Ron Harris (footballer)
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Ronald Edward Harris (born 13 November 1944 in Hackney, London, England), known by the nickname "Chopper", is a former English footballer who played for Chelsea in the 1960s and 1970s. Harris is widely regarded as one of the toughest defenders of his era – along with players such as Tommy Smith and Norman Hunter – hence the nickname. His brother Allan Harris was also a professional footballer and they were teammates at Chelsea in the mid-1960s.
|Full name||Ronald Edward Harris|
|Date of birth||13 November 1944|
|Place of birth||Hackney, London, England|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Harris was a member of the Chelsea side which won the FA Youth Cup in 1961 and made his senior club debut in February 1962 in a 1–0 win against Sheffield Wednesday. Within a year, he had established himself as a regular in the side, a position he would hold for the next eighteen years. He formed an important part of new Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty's youth-oriented re-building of the club after relegation from the First Division alongside the likes of Peter Bonetti, Peter Osgood and Bobby Tambling.
Upon the club's return to the top division, Harris solidified his reputation as an uncompromising – yet talented – defender with a series of strong (and sometimes notorious) performances. His first honours with Chelsea came with a League Cup win over Leicester City in 1965. In the same season, Chelsea were challenging for the league title for most of the year but ultimately finished third after winning just one of their final five matches. He became club captain the following year when Terry Venables left for Tottenham Hotspur and became the youngest ever captain to lead out a side in the 1967 FA Cup Final, although they lost 2–1 to Tottenham. Chelsea, led by Harris, reached another FA Cup final three years later, this time against Leeds United – a side then at their peak in English football. He won four caps for England U23 between 1966 and 1968.
That 1970 FA Cup Final is notorious for being one of the most physical of all time, it saw Harris come into his own in the role of both inspirational leader and uncompromising tackler. With Leeds having taken a 2–1 lead at Wembley with just six minutes remaining, it was his quick free kick which led to Ian Hutchinson's headed equaliser to take the game to a replay. During the replay at Old Trafford his late tackle on Leeds' playmaker Eddie Gray after just eight minutes (just one of many late tackles committed by both sides), left the latter a virtual passenger for the rest of the match: Chelsea eventually won 2–1 after extra-time.
The following season saw Harris lift Chelsea's first major European honour – the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup – in another replayed final against Real Madrid in Athens. Chelsea also reached a second League Cup final in 1972, but surprisingly lost to Stoke in what proved to be his last major final for the club.
While many of Chelsea's star players departed during the 1970s ( due to Peter Osgood and Alan Hudson falling out with manager Dave Sexton, and due to the financial crisis caused by the building of the new East Stand, and the financial impact of relegation ) Harris remained ever-present in the side throughout a decade which saw them relegated twice and promoted once, although he was replaced as Club Captain by John Hollins at the tail end of the 1971/72 season. Harris was primarily a central defender in the mould of Bobby Moore and Norman Hunter but in later years he was often played out of position as circumstances dictated. After the retirement of Eddie McCreadie he played at left back for a considerable time and was used as cover at right back when injuries left the financially struggling Chelsea short of cover. In the closing stages of his career he also played as a holding midfield player in a role similar to Claude Makelele, providing a screen for a defence that was often caught out by counter-attacks. Over an 18 year period Harris was rarely out of the first team. In 10 seasons he averaged 41 league games out of 42 and in 5 other seasons he averaged over 37 games. He finally left Chelsea in 1980 to become a player-coach at Brentford, having played a record 795 games for Chelsea. He later had a brief stint as player-manager of Aldershot.
Harris was a professional greyhound trainer for several years during the 1990s. He is now a football pundit (especially on Chelsea), an in-demand after-dinner speaker and has written an autobiography, Chopper: A Chelsea Legend. He also has a suite named after him at Stamford Bridge.
On 13 November 2007, he took part in the limited edition autobiography CD series 60 minutes with..., when he was interviewed by David Knight. Harris spoke in detail about his career.
Between 1 April 2009 and 1 April 2010, Harris was attempting to set a new world record in signing the most autographs within a twelve-month period. This is being done via a UK-wide tour and via the sale of signed photos online.
On 19 May 2011, he was given "Special Recognition Award" in a Chelsea player of the year ceremony.
|Club||Season||Division||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
- Chelsea's Most League Appearances – 657
- Chelsea's Most FA Cup Appearances – 64
- Chelsea's Most Appearances in Total – 795
- Special Recognition Award 2010–2011
- "Barry Hugman's Footballers – Ron Harris". hugmansfootballers.com. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
- "England – U-23 International Results – Details". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
- "Players Appearances He-Ho". Bounder.friardale.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Barnes/Sellers, Julia/John (1992). Ladbrokes Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-22-8.
- "Ron Harris". 11v11.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- Croxford, Mark; Lane, David; Waterman, Greville (2011). The Big Brentford Book of the Eighties. Sunbury, Middlesex: Legends Publishing. pp. 422–425. ISBN 978-1906796716.