Born in Liverpool on 18 Match 1939, was educated at Stechford’s Lea Village School before taken a job at BSA tools. In May 1958 ‘Big Ron’ became a professional with Aston Villa before having trials with Wolves. In July 1959, he joined Headington United (now Oxford United). He stayed at the Mannor Ground and made all his League appearances before transferring to Witney Town in May 1971. Just five months later he took his first steps into management when he became player/manager with Kettering Town. He then became manager of Cambridge United in November 1974 before West Bromwich Albion took him to the Hawthornes in January 1978. In June 1981 he took up the managers role at Manchester United. He then had spells as manager with West Bromwich Albion for a second stint September 1987, Athletico Madrid October 1988 to January 1989, Sheffield Wednesday February 1989 to May 1991, Aston Villa June 1991 to November 1994, Coventry City February 1995 to November 1996 (also a spell as a director), Sheffield Wednesday again briefly in 1998 and Nottingham Forest in 1999. Atkinson playing career saw him help Oxford United into the Football League in 1962 and then to promotion from the fourth division in 1965. In management he guided Kettering to the Championship of the Southern League North and the Premier Division. He guided Cambridge to promotion from the Fourth Division and they were on the way to the Second Division when he turned his attention to the Black Country with West Bromwich Albion. He took the ‘Baggies’ to the Semi-final’s of the FA Cup and to the last eight of the UEFA Cup. He won the FA Cup twice whilst at Old Trafford and took Sheffield Wednesday to the Final of the League Cup in 1991 (where they beat Manchester United) and 1993. In 1994, he again won the League Cup, this time with Aston Villa and his last stint as a manager he at the City Ground, he failed to help Forest from relegation from the Premiership in 1999. In January 2007, Atkinson returned to Kettering Town, the club he had managed more than 30 years previously, as Director of Football. He left just three months later.
(Career League Appearances: 384, Goals: 14).