RON HARRIS INTERVIEW (FROM A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO)
If you could have changed anything from your playing days, what would it have been?
I wished I had been another yard or two quicker that I was. I lacked a yard or two in pace. It would have been nice to have been picked for England. However I captained the under 23s or the 21s whatever it was called in those days. I captained the England youth side which won a mini World Cup but I never really got into the senior squad.
Who was playing in your position for England? Who was keeping you out of the squad?
Bobby Moore, Norman Hunter…
What do you think of the current crop of Premiership players in general?
Premiership football over the last few seasons has a bit of a bad image. People falling around, diving. When you see certain players falling to the floor after a slight touch… that’s the sort of thing that’s shown throughout the next week. Some players at certain clubs carry on like they are royalty.
I know it’s changed completely since my day. We used to have people outside the dressing room doors. We would be more than pleased to come out. Nowadays with the security how it is, the players have to sneak outside via a back door. Which I think is a shame. Take for instance; if you and your son come down here, you get a glimpse on a Saturday. Whereas in my time the players were ushered out to sign autographs. Now there is such a big gap in terms of supporters and the players. I think that some of the players, not just at this club are more interested in the limelight. All their pictures in the papers. I’ve been to places where you are not allowed to park your car because the players are coming here in a minute. But they are footballers not royalty.
Chelsea have come in for some flack from some corners for being as much to blame as anyone for the diving culture. If you were managing the club now and you saw some of the things that some of the players do. Would you tell them to cut it out? How would you manage them?
You’ve only got to look at a certain game a few years ago. A certain player got booed off the park after the Manchester City game. If you have a look at what he has achieved since he decided to stay on his feet… maybe he deserved to have be booed.
Yes he scored two goals that day and still got booed…
It’s a disease that has come into our game. Like if your kid plays football on the park, they see football on the television five nights a week or sometimes there’s three matches. It’s not only foreign players, everyone is doing it now and it’s a shame. There’s not a week go by when there’s not a controversial incident. The only way they’re going to clear this up is if they start banning people for three matches and they get fined £40,000 which is two bob to them. The referees are not always right anyway. If a referee misses an incident the cameras could pick it up and the FA can ban you for three matches so why can’t they pick up somebody that’s falling over or diving. Maybe not just ban them but deduct points. If you watch cricket, years ago I used to play a lot of cricket, if you thought you were out you walked but there’s not too many people do that today. If referees booked people a lot more often and sent them off then I think people would be a bit more reluctant to fall to the ground and you’re talking about people who are six foot odd who just get a touch and fall over. It would take you more than that to push me over. They go down too easy. Sport today is completely different to what it was in our time. I know people will turn round and say Franny Lee or Rodney Marsh but you wouldn’t class them as divers to the degree that’s happening here at every football club at the moment the players in my time were a little bit more honest and a little bit more genuine. Nowadays you see them run twenty yards to remonstrate with the referee to get his book out or send him off. To me that is a crime, we are all in it to earn a living you don’t need some a***hole to try and get you sent off.
You mention TV cameras, do you think in your day with so many around the ground would you have survived as a player?
Well I can honestly say I never hit anybody physically. I’ve kicked a few people. What amazes me in the present day football maybe it’s part of society nowadays. If you go back through to the Leeds Chelsea cup final when the referee said eight fellas would be sent off you’d never see anybody go up to other players and stick their nut on them like you do today.
As a fan does it wind you up when other clubs fans, like Liverpool, sing we’ve got no history? How do you feel about that?
It’s part and parcel of the supporters nowadays. I would like to go on record and say that Liverpool were one of the best sides around in ’63 to ’68 or something like that. I think Chelsea will win as many competitions as they did in that time. It’s just friendly banter.
Is it true your mobile phone ringtone is Blue is the Colour?
Yes. (Ron gets his phone out and proves it!).
Do you still have your fishing lake business?
No, we got rid of that about four years ago because Peter Osgood kept on saying to me about doing the dinner circuit and we felt we had taken it as far as we could and I enjoy doing what we do here doing the hospitality. Like last week there was three games and I would rather be doing the hospitality and speaking.
Is that what you’re doing primarily?
We organise charity events for anybody that’s interested, Lani does that I usually speak at the events and the hospitality I do at the club. Apart from people phoning up and asking me to speak at various clubs and functions.
Do you find people remember you just as well and just as pleased to see you?
I think the name helps, Chopper, I think more people know me as Chopper Harris than they do Ron and people still recognise me. I’ve always had short hair, maybe I’m a bit greyer, but I think they remember me for some of the tackles.
What and why was your favourite game that you can recall apart from the FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup?
There was two games that stuck out in my memory. Peter Osgood missed the quarter finals of the CWC against Bruge. Peter Osgood was suspended and I had been out for a month and missed the first leg over there which they won 2-0 and we finished up winning 4-0 here which I think Peter Houseman scored twice and I think we were still behind on aggregate with about twenty minutes to go. Also, I remember the first goal I ever scored for Chelsea against Leicester when Banksy was in goal and we finished up winning 1-0. I must have had a brainstorm and crossed the half way line and shot from about 30 yards. I think they are two of my most memorable apart from the Cup Finals that I remember.
Do you think that’s the best goal you scored?
I scored one that got voted second best of the month when they used to have goal of the month and I remember scoring up at Derby. They used to have a goalkeeper in goal at the time called Les Green who was only about 5 foot 5.
If you could have picked your own nickname what would it have been? Who gave you the name Chopper?
It was the supporters actually who used to say that I sithed people down. The only person here who didn’t call me Chopper was Ossie, he called me Buller because he alleged I talked so much bullsh*t. He never called me Ron, always Buller.
You’ve seen a huge evolution at Chelsea over the years. Do you think the fans have changed?
I think that what’s happened over the last few years most football clubs has been taken over by the corporate side, companies that can spend lots of money to take their clients. We go round some of the boxes here like Adidas has boxes here. On Saturday half the people come from Liverpool way. Roy Keane made a statement a few years ago and a lot of people criticised him for it but to a degree I think he was right. I can remember years ago when my dad used to take me and my brother to the Arsenal we used to have to get there at 12 o’clock when the turnstiles used to open you could get down the front but if you come here at twenty to three now you wouldn’t even know there was a game on because nobodies in the ground are they? They all come later on because they’ve got their own season tickets and I think that is one of the things that has happened in football. Most times you see family is cup ties when you pay 25 quid for your ticket whereas normally it’s 60 quid. People can’t afford 60 quid a ticket.
Have the fans got noisier or quieter? How do you feel the atmosphere in the ground compares to when you played?
I know lots of hardcore supporters would like to be standing on terraces getting wet enjoying themselves. At stadiums now if you jump up out of your seat and shout out something you get thrown out. There’s lots of business people I know effing and blinding, they express themselves. At football you vent your feelings I don’t think that happens at the moment because people are not allowed really to start ranting and raving. I spoke before the Rugby League Challenge Cup at Twickenham last year when St Helens played Huddersfield or Bradford and all the supporters were mixed together and there was never no trouble and they had some good friendly banter. You put Arsenal supporters with Chelsea supporters…
Obviously there was trouble in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, how did that affect you? Did it affect the way you played?
No not really I think that the football went through a bit dodgy image with people smashing up coaches and fighting but they were probably most likely fighting with their fists. Nowadays guns and knives and things like that. I think the supporters are completely different to what they were years ago.
What’s your favourite Chelsea game as a fan?
We went to Barcelona just recently, the 2-2 game, and it’s the second time I’ve been there in a matter of years. We left the hotel and had about a 20 minute walk. There was 9 of us and we bumped into a posse of Chelsea supporters and they were chanting ‘Ron Harris’. We went into the pub and they was all there and I think it’s fantastic, I’ve always got on ever so well with the supporters here. I feel proud to still come here and look forward to every home game. Lani comes with my son Martin and they go their separate ways and I do what I gotta do. I think it’s fantastic, fantastic.
Well that wraps it up Ron and I can’t thank you enough
Thanks for talking to CFCnet and answering all our readers question, we really appreciate it.