Remembering Ronnie Renton, ‘a real Rovers man’

SBSR Gala 1953-54
SBSR Gala 1953-54

The recent death of Robbie Renton, a Galashiels footballing stalwart, was marked with a minute of remembrance this week.

Prior to Saturday’s home game for Gala Fairydean Rovers against Preston Athletic, both teams lined up to remember Robbie.

A pre-match announcement by the club told the crowd: “In a week that the footballing world mourned the passing of one of the greatest players in the sport’s history, Johan Cruyff, Gala Fairydean Rovers would also like to take time to remember a local footballing great, Mr Ronnie Renton.”

The club then played an excerpt from a song played at Ronnie’s funeral, Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World.”

Ronnie played a handful of games for Gala Fairydean, but it was a decade-long stint with Gala Rovers in the 1950s and early 60s that cemented his place as a legend in local football in the town.

According to the book From Mossilee to the San Siro – The History of Gala Rovers by Cubbs Turnbull, Ronnie Renton signed for the Rovers in 1952 after spells with Gala Fairydean and Gala Legion.

The book quotes record goal-scorer Wullie Stanners saying of Ronnie: “He was a real Rovers man, he never stopped, if any of us ever made a mistake then you’d hear about it from Ronnie first.”

The book goes on: “A hard-tackling full-back, Ronnie’s final match for the Rovers was a 1961 South Cup Final defeat to Tweeddale Rovers. It was his third appearance in the final…and he would be involved in four more before the end of the 60s as part of the selection committee. He stayed on the committee until the late 70s.”

Ronnie enjoyed a glittering carer with the Rovers winning the Border Amateur League in successive seasons in 1953, ‘54 and ‘55. He won the Beveridge Cup in 1953 wand in 1954 he lifted the South Cup, the Dudley Cup and the Border Medal competition.

He was part of the all-conquering Rovers side that remained unbeaten throughout the historic 1953/54 season and lost only two league games in a sensational three year period.

Ronnie had a reputation as a hard but fair player. A former team-mate Wullie Noble remembered: “Ronnie never took any prisoners – nobody got past him.”

A former opponent, Stow’s Tommy Kelly said: “If he couldn’t get past you he’d go through you…he wasn’t a dirty player, just a hard tackler.”

The book recounts the funny story of when the Rovers team bus struck a pheasant on the way to an away fixture. Ronnie worked at Headspeath’s Butchers in the town’s High Street. Team-mate Jimmy Walker recalls Ronnie got the driver to stop the bus, picked up the dead bird and had it plucked by the time they had reached the away pitch.

He is listed at number 12 in the list of Gala Rovers greatest players of all time.

Ronnie’s funeral took place at the Crematorium in Melrose on Friday, March 25, and Gala Fairydean Rovers FC would like to pass on its condolences to all Ronnie’s family and friends.