Obituary: From Fratton terraces to Pompey first team for Ron Newman

Ron Newman, right, with son Guy
Ron Newman, right, with son Guy
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Ron Newman was a supporter who cheered on Pompey from the Fratton Park terraces – and later represented his club with distinction.

Growing up in Johns Road, Fareham, as a schoolboy his daily bus journey to St John’s College would take him past the Portchester home of the great Jack Froggatt, a Blues player he idolised.

By the time the energetic midfielder was recruited by Pompey in January 1955 following three successful trial games, Froggatt had left for Leicester City, denying them becoming team-mates.

Before Newman was taken on by Eddie Lever, however, he had served as a carpenter in the dockyard and spent two years as a drill sergeant in the Army, based in Hilsea.

As he recalled in 2015 book Played Up Pompey: ‘Pompey was my team, it was my dad’s team, it was my grandad’s team, it was my great grandad’s team, my wife’s family were the same.

‘I watched games at Fratton Park, although coming from Fareham to matches was never easy. My Uncle Charlie lived near the ground and my dad, Algernon, would take me round his house to meet up and go to the match.

‘Little could I have expected that years later I would make 120 appearances and score 23 goals for them.’

His second match represented a Fratton Park debut in April 1955 against Chelsea, the Division One fixture attracting a crowd of 40,230.

Newman would change next to the legendary Jimmy Dickinson, yet both were receiving £15 a week, such were the vagaries of footballers’ pay at the time.

His Pompey career ended when Freddie Cox sold him to Leyton Orient for £10,000 in January 1961, very much against the player’s wishes.

Yet Newman would forge a career in football beyond playing, becoming an innovative coach in the United States in both indoor and outdoor formats of the game, earning National Soccer Hall of Fame status.

Following a switch to the North American Soccer League in 1971 as Dallas Tornado’s player-head coach, he went on to count Pele as a team-mate and then manage George Best, Gordon Banks and Gerd Muller in a trophy-laden career.

He remained heavily involved in the game Stateside until 2000.

Newman was a charismatic figure with a love for talking football and, in October 2015, returned to England to catch up with friends and family.

While back on the south coast he met up with former team-mate Ray Crawford, as well as signed copies of Played Up Pompey, in which he was featured.

He died on Monday in Tampa, Florida, aged 84.