Norwich City top 100 appearances: Ron Ashman (2) – Quiet man who helped City shock the world
PUBLISHED: 18:37 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 21 July 2017
Our summer series looking at the top 100 appearance makers in Norwich City’s history is almost at an end. Mark Armstrong looks at a true Canaries legend...
662 appearances/56 goals
Ron Ashman is one of the most stately figures in Norwich City’s history.
For the best part of two decades Ron Ashman and Norwich City went hand in hand. When talking about the post-war Canaries, Ashman was the man at the heart of helping City break through the glass ceiling of Division Three South.
Ashman started out as a centre forward for the Canaries before gradually moving back through the team and becoming their first choice left back.
He went on to become the club’s manager and secured their first silverware when winning the League Cup against Rochdale in 1962.
But it is the 1959 FA Cup run that defined Ashman’s time as a player as the Canaries, in the third tier of English football, saw off the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham before falling at the semi-final stage against Luton Town.
Lifelong City supporter Roy Blower remembers that run as if it was yesterday.
“It just got to the stage where we thought we were unbeatable – I remember after beating Spurs in the replay all the supporters applauding Ron and his team off the coach. It was superb.
“We were coming up against some excellent, established teams and getting the better of them. Ron in particular was outstanding and the run cemented his standing amongst fans.
“He was a fantastic leader and just as good as a player. I remember him coming up against players like Terry Dyson and Cliff Jones and dealing with them in the composed way he became famous for.”
City’s run finally came to an end at the hands of the Hatters in the last four, but for fans of a certain generation that cup run remains the zenith.
Norwich didn’t rest on their laurels either, finally winning promotion to the second tier the season after with Ashman as skipper.
Ashman remained active as City consolidated in the second flight with fourth place in 1960/61, then finally garnered silverware in the shape of the League Cup in 1962. In December that year, he became acting manager of the club, and took the job on a full-time basis a year later. By then he had finished playing, after 662 senior appearances for Norwich.
What Norwich would do for a left-back of Ashman’s quality in the modern era.
Asked which modern day player Ashman was most similar to, Blower replied: “I think you would have to say someone like Adam Drury. He always gave his best in a calm and collected way and knew how to deal with pressure.
“He always quietly went about his business in a calm, assured manner, leading by example.”
Ashman’s managerial tenure at Norwich was not as successful as his playing days with the man himself admitting after that he was perhaps a little too “nice” in his dealings with some of his former team-mates.
He still managed to pull off the signing of Ron Davies from Luton Town and the striker went on to become one of the most lethal marksmen in City’s history. Ashman certainly knew how to spot a player - he also gave Kevin Keegan his debut at Scunthorpe when he was manager there.
But the signing of Davies wasn’t enough to spare Ashman from losing his job in May 1966, just a month after being devastated by the death of his close friend and ally Barry Butler in a car crash.
He returned to football as manager of Scunthorpe in October 1967, only for United to be relegated as bottom club in Division Three at the end of his first season. Ashman took his new charges to the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1970, then they rose to the Third Division two years later, but finished last in 1972/73. There followed a brief stint in charge of Grimsby Town before he returned to the Old Show Ground for another five years, spent mostly in the wrong half of the Fourth Division.
In 2002 Ashman was made an inaugural member of Norwich City’s Hall of Fame.
He died, aged 78, two years later but will always be the quiet man that helped Norwich shock the football world.
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