Chelsea Football Club is greatly saddened to learn of the death of Ron Tindall, the centre-forward who acted as foil to Jimmy Greaves in the late 1950s and early 1960s, scoring 69 goals in 174 appearances.
He died yesterday aged 76 in Australia, the country that became his home after he took up a coaching role there in the mid-1970s, following a spell in management at Portsmouth. Tindall also played for Portsmouth, West Ham and Reading but it was at Chelsea where he first became a professional.
Tindall (pictured above heading the ball) was a south Londoner, born in Streatham, but was playing non-league football in Surrey for Camberley when spotted by Chelsea manager Ted Drake. He worked in the club offices at Stamford Bridge while developing in our fledgling youth system and made his first team debut in November 1955 at home to West Bromwich Albion, coming into a side that had been crowned league champions the previous season.
The 20-year-old scored in a 2-0 win and played the next five games as centre-forward alongside the mobile Roy Bentley, adding another goal to his total in a home game against Newcastle.
However after a 4-0 defeat by Bolton, Les Stubbs returned to the side in place of Tindall whose next run in the side came in the early new year. Appearances were infrequent in the later months and he ended that first campaign with eight goals from 18 appearances as the previous year’s title winners finished a disappointing 16th.
As the old guard began to move on, Bentley included, Tindall, a tall, quick and hard-working player who could also fill in at full-back and even as goalkeeper in an emergency, became a regular choice up front and scored nine times in 26league appearances as Chelsea improved three places on the previous season’s final position.
For the opening game of 1957/58, he was joined in the Chelsea front line for the first time by Greaves who went on to find the net 22 times that season while Tindall’s 16-goal total was his joint-best in a Chelsea shirt. For all the goalscoring potential, that was the only time an inconsistent Chelsea side was able to finish in the top half of the First Division table during Tindall’s time at the club.
Greaves apart, Tindall was the most frequently selected forward despite Drake trying out other options and he repeated his 16-goal haul in 1960/61. With Greaves adding 43, their combined 59 remains a Chelsea record for a strike partnership.
The following season, with Greaves having left for Italy, Tindall played just five matches prior to his own transfer to West Ham in the October. Chelsea’s fate was relegation from the top flight.
His stay at Upton Park was short, as was his time at Reading, so the remainder of his playing days were largely at Portsmouth where he ended up in a defensive role. After retiring he worked in management at Fratton Park with another former Chelsea player John Mortimore prior to emigrating.
Tindall’s work in Australia was recognised in the 2008 Australia Day Honours’ List. He also became patron of the Perth Chelsea Supporters’ Club.
Chelsea Football Club wishes to send our deepest condolences to Ron’s family and friends.
Club historian Rick Glanvill writes:
‘Ron is one of those players who is always mentioned in dispatches or with an asterisk. As a professional cricketer with Surrey, he was given special dispensation to miss Chelsea matches in the spring and autumn. He hit 1,000 runs in one season.
‘His Stamford Bridge career might have been even better but for awkward timing. Ron played his first game in 1955 – but just after the title was won and the team was struggling.
‘He went on to hit double figures three times in four seasons, but it was his misfortune to ply his trade scoring goals in the shadow of the extraordinarily prolific Jimmy Greaves. The two formed a fine partnership, but after Greaves moved to Milan, Bobby Tambling would steal the headlines.
‘His departure was a quirky one. He was unsubtly tapped up by West Ham players on a train the two teams shared coming back from away matches. Ted Drake was incensed when he found out, but a year later in October 1961 Ron made the switch to Upton Park. He was more successful at Portsmouth and finished his playing career there.
‘Ron emigrated down under in 1977, bringing through generations of youngsters and coaches in all kinds of sports as director of coaching for Western Australia.
‘He was awarded the country’s Order of Australia Medal in 2008, and the WA coach of the year award was renamed the Ron Tindall Medal in his honour in 2011.’