20 April 2006


The football manager John Lyall, who died yesterday, made his name with West Ham, whom he took to two FA Cup victories, but his last job in football was at Ipswich Town, where he put together the team that won promotion to the top flight in 1992. The best line-up in that season went like this:

Forrest; Johnson; Thompson; Stockwell; Wark; Linighan; Milton; Palmer; Whitton; Dozzell; Kiwomya

Not our greatest ever team, but we won the old second division and if only we'd got the playmaker we needed in midfield — and if only the forwards hadn't been such playboy dilletantes — we coulda been contenders. Instead, with no cash available from the board, Lyall signed the awful clogger Geriant Williams from Derby and a handful of others (mostly donkeys), and was forced to sell Dozzell and Kiwomya. He was then booted upstairs into a vague general manager role and was fired unceremoniously in late 1994 as we headed for relegation.

But like every other Ipswich supporter who was there, I have fond memories from that promotion season. He was a very nice man, and it's very sad that he's died at just 66. Portman Road will salute him on Saturday.

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