Ronnie “Ticker” Boyce grew up in East Ham, just a few miles from the Upton Park ground. He was part of the youth set up before signing professional terms at the age of 17. A year later, in 1960, he made his debut in a 5-2 win against Preston NE. He was a one club man and made 342 appearances which included the FA Cup final win in 1964 and the European Cup Winners Cup final the following year. Following on from his last game in 1972 he worked under John Lyall on the coaching staff during which time West Ham won two FA Cups in 1975 and 1980. His last five years at the club were in the role of chief scout, a position he relinquished in 1995. His most important goal was almost certainly the last minute winner in the 1964 FA Cup final which brought the prized trophy back to the East End for the first time in the clubs history. Ron himself said that goal was the proudest moment in his life. He also said that the greatest game he played in was the ECWC final. “They had a team full of internationals and we really had to raise our game. It was a brilliant match, with great passing and end to end football – without doubt the best game I ever played in.”
One of the most amazing goals I have ever seen was also scored by Ronnie Boyce. It was a game away to Manchester City and it was played on a mud bath. West Ham had just swapped Martin Peters for Spurs player Jimmy Greaves, plus a sum of cash in a deal most Hammer fans were more than a little sceptical about. The Hammers won 5-1 that day and Jimmy Greaves scored twice on debut. However, when City keeper Joe Corrigan moved to the right sided edge of the box and kicked clear, Ticker from 40 yards out volleyed the ball straight back into an empty City net!
Ronnie was a firm favourite with Hammer fans in the sixties. The nickname “Ticker” was given to him because of his work rate and how he blended the team together – he made the team “tick”. Ron was not a natural athlete but he was a perceptive reader of the game and an exceptional passer of the ball. When he played well, West Ham played well. He was a local lad and supported the team from behind the goals when he was a boy. He played twice for England schoolboys and was courted by Arsenal before being signed by Wally St Pier. He was one of the young players that would join the likes Of Lyall, Hurst, Peters and Joe Kirkup in Cassettari’s café to discuss football and tactics with Cantwell, Allison and John Bond.Like many players, he liked to stick to his same pre-game ritual and he had his superstitions. He would always be first to the ground and would pop chewing gum into his mouth before he went into the dressing room. Ticker was always first to change (once he knew he was in the team), and always sat in the same spot in the changing room. He also made sure he was right behind Bobby Moore when the team ran out onto the pitch. Ron was a big worrier. He always worried before games that he would not be picked. Then later he would have trouble sleeping after games as he relived every moment of the day’s match in his head. These were all traits that had followed him throughout his life. Ron was to say; “I was such a nervous, weepy kid. I would rather hide in the garden than go to a party. My dad had to push me, get me in the car and just make me get on with it. Things could have been so different if it wasn’t for my dad. I owe a lot to him.”
In today’s game where all too often agents rule and players move from club to club, it is nice to remember “Ticker”. He was 14 when he first trained with the Hammers and it was 37 years later that he said his last goodbyes as an employee of West Ham. He never had ambitions for management but when Lou Macari’s brief spell as West Ham manager came to an end Ron did take up the caretaker manager role for a single game. A loyal servant to West Ham, a one club man, he was integral to the way West Ham played in the 60’s.