Post by hatter_in_macc on Jul 26, 2018 16:30:40 GMT
A journalistic appeal for help from fellow Heaveners...
For the coming season, my programme column (in addition to the CH one that Sandy and I co-produce) will focus on the lives and times of County Managers.
With around 50 to choose from, I shall probably fall short of covering them all - although, in certain instances, some may be conveniently grouped together in single pieces, on the basis of sharing the same name, wearing similar hats, or being extraordinarily and inseparably cr*p.
I am starting off the series (for the FC United programme) with a 'Hatters' Gaffer' from the early-ish 20th Century, but, in future editions, will often be focusing on bosses closer to living memory. With that in mind, and knowing that a few of you have followed County for longer than I have, I would be interested to hear of any decent (as in amusing, but keep 'em clean) anecdotes about former managers that might make for an entertaining read!
Please PM me, should you wish to share anything - either by way of a very brief written description or, if you prefer, a 'phone conversation that I could then write up for the column.
I shall also reproduce the articles on this thread, for anyone who may be interested in reading them but unable to get hold of the programme.
Hatter in Macc kicks off a new series on County Managers with an unheralded ‘nearly man’.
Ask any Hatter which of our club’s 50-plus managerial hot-seat occupants has been the most successful, statistically speaking, and the chances are that many will plump for Danny Bergara, Dave Jones or current gaffer Jim Gannon - all of whom have guided County sides to promotion over the past three decades.
Older supporters could suggest Jimmy Meadows, who managed the Hatters to their last league title (in the then Fourth Division) during 1966/67. More ancient ones might even chime in with Bob Kelly or - if they are living centenarians - Albert Williams, under whose auspices County became Third Division North Champions in, respectively, 1937 and 1922.
As it happens, the first three, as well as Kelly, find themselves in the all-time Top 10 for their teams’ victory percentages. But none to date can hold a candle to the record of the bowler-hatted Lincoln Hyde, who served as club boss between 1926 and 1931 - before emerging with an overall win-record that approached 60%, and as one of only three managers whose County players have averaged more than two goals per game.
Yet, his five-year spell failed to yield any material success at Edgeley Park - and, for that reason, perhaps, remains largely unnoticed. Time, then, to find out more… but, first off, to wonder at the thoughts of his parents when they registered his birth in the late 19th Century!
1. Lincoln Hyde? That’s not a name, it’s two football clubs!
Whatever might have been in Mr and Mrs Hyde’s minds when their son was new to the world, by naming him Lincoln they unknowingly set him up with what would prove some quirky fate as a football player and manager.
He first arrived at EP as a centre-forward in 1913/14, and his debut, had this been a century later, would have sent social media crazy, given that it saw him score the first of County’s three goals without reply… against Lincoln City, and in Lincoln, at Sincil Bank, for good measure! The newspaper-headline-grabbing strike was Hyde’s only goal in 13 Second Division appearances as a Hatter, before The Great War interrupted, and in several subsequent wartime outings.
Later, for the fourth of his five managerial campaigns, Hyde struck gold after signing an inconspicuous inside-forward from Northampton Town who rewarded the gaffer and club by netting 28 times in 1929/30 - as well as setting an as-yet-unbroken County record with goals in nine consecutive games. His name? Andy Lincoln. Following a less prolific second season in front of goal - and with Hyde, by then, on his way to take over the reins at Preston North End - the player was released during the summer of 1931, to be snapped up, naturally enough, by Lincoln!
2. Hyde was one of several early County bosses to double up as ‘Secretary Managers’.
Back in the day, Football League clubs often had them. As well as coaching and picking the teams, they took control of the process for bringing in players and getting contracts signed.
For the most part, this arrangement worked well with Hyde in charge, as he set about assembling a squad that could challenge for honours. And his most major coup was the signing of former Bolton captain Joe Smith, who, having twice led the top-flight Wanderers to FA Cup glory (in 1923 and 1926), dropped two tiers to become a Hatter in Division Three North. By then in his late 30s, Smith was nevertheless to become a goalscoring legend at EP… although his debut did not quite go as planned, with County suffering a two-point deduction after he was found to be unregistered.
Whether Smith’s registration was not in order because Hyde had too much work on his plate in a dual role will probably never be known. But, with over 22,500 fans turning up in Edgeley to see Smith make his bow against Stoke City, Chairman Ernest Barlow reputedly kept quiet about a pre-match telegram from the League warning him of the irregularity. To make matters worse, Smith also missed a late penalty, as County had grudgingly to settle for a draw against the ‘Potters’.
3. And then there was the transfer involving three freezers of ice-cream…
Actually, this event tends to get quoted without a full explanation - which, in the case of Hugh McLenahan’s 1927 move from County to Manchester United, was that the player, as an amateur, could not attract a cash payment. But it did occur under Hyde’s watch - and the Club Bazaar that summer was all the better for it, as scoops of the tasty ‘transfer fee’ were sold to fête-goers!
4. Neither ‘Hyde’ nor hair of honours during Lincoln’s time at the helm, though!
It was not for the want of trying. In his five seasons, the Hatters twice went close as Division Three North runners-up - at a time when only the title-winners earned promotion - and finished third, sixth and seventh during the other three. But he should be remembered for producing high-scoring County sides that were both attractive and consistent to watch. And he hopefully retired to run a successful business in Belfast, knowing that his reward was in the stats…
5. Lincoln Hyde - County management record in the Football League, 1926-31:
P W D L F A 210 121 37 52 476 283
Win %: 57.62 (57.92 in all competitions). Goals per game ratio: 2.27.
Hatter in Macc goes back half a dozen decades to discover County’s first Player-Manager.
Our starting-point tonight is 1956 - some 30 years following the appointment to the managerial hot-seat of this column’s previous subject, Lincoln Hyde.
By the post-World War Two era, the fashion for appointing ‘Secretary Managers’ like Hyde, who took care of players’ contracts off the pitch as well as their selection on it, had faded, and Football League clubs were looking instead at engaging bosses who focused purely on the playing side of the business.
But when, 62 summers ago, the Hatters found themselves manager-less following the close-season departure of Dick Duckworth to become chief scout at Sheffield United, their proposed solution was so ahead of its time that the Football League was approached to advise upon it.
What County had in mind was to make inside-right Willie Moir, who had arrived at Edgeley Park almost a year previously, the new gaffer, while allowing him to continue playing. And so it was that the former Scottish international became the club’s inaugural player-manager - to be followed in this dual role over later decades by Trevor Porteus, Alan Thompson, Mike Summerbee, Les Chapman, Asa Hartford and Carlton Palmer.
Did such a bold move work? Well, Moir lasted as manager for four full campaigns. And during the first two of those, he carried on playing in matches - including one of current historical note!
1. Moir was the last County player before Connor Dimaio to score a winning league goal at Southport.
Ahead of last Saturday, the Hatters had not come away from Haig Avenue with maximum points since 25 August 1956. Following the weekend just gone, of course, that rather unwelcome sequence has mercifully ended, thanks to Dimaio’s strike five minutes from time at what, these days in Southport, goes under the name of the Merseyrail Community Stadium. But 62 years ago, the hero was Moir, who, in just his third game as player-boss, put away the only goal of a contest played out near the seaside in front of a 6,000-plus Bank Holiday weekend crowd.
The new boss proceeded to lead by example on and off the pitch throughout his inaugural season at the helm - netting 10 times in 33 Division Three North appearances, as the Hatters ended up in a creditable fifth position.
2. During his earlier career, he had been a ‘nearly man’ in a legendary FA Cup Final.
The 1953 ‘Matthews Final’, that is. Before Sir Stanley began to weave his match-winning magic for Blackpool on the right flank, Moir, then as captain of Bolton, looked odds-on to lift the trophy. He scored his side’s second, as the Wanderers proceeded to lead 3-1 with just over 20 minutes remaining - only to be bamboozled by the ‘Wizard of Dribble’, edged out by the odd goal in seven, and consigned to history as the only team to score three times in, yet lose, an FA Cup Final.
There was a quirky link around the match, which ties in not only Bolton and County but also the two instalments to date of this very column. For, on that May afternoon when Moir had to content himself with being a gallant losing skipper and, perhaps one day, a worthy posthumous choice for the ‘Hatters’ Gaffers’ spotlight, the victorious Blackpool boss was Joe Smith - who, as a player, had been signed from Bolton to score goals for County in the late 1920s by Lincoln Hyde!
3. Moir’s spell in charge at Edgeley Park saw the arrival of floodlights.
Floodlit football came to the League in the second half of the 1955/56 campaign - and a dozen games into the following season, by which time Moir had assumed his dual player-manager role, the Hatters took their initial bow under the lights at Brunton Park as they shared the points (but presumably not the electricity bill) with hosts Carlisle United.
Less than a month later, pylons were in place and ready to be switched on at EP, too - with Dutch outfit Fortuna ’54 Geleen providing the opposition for a friendly to mark the occasion on the evening of 16 October 1956. It was a night of mixed fortunes for County, who attracted an impressive attendance of over 14,500 - but lost the game 3-0 and, worst of all, had to fend off post-match complaints from the local Darts and Cribbage League that the novelty of watching football under the lights on a Tuesday had led to a number of darts teams in and around Stockport losing players for their own matches on the same evening!
4. Was there ‘Moir’ of the same after that fifth-place finish in his first managerial campaign?
Sadly not, if truth be told. The 1956/57 season was to prove rather better than the three that came after it - and, in fact, the Hatters’ last realistic tilt at promotion until their Fourth Division title-winning success a decade later. A top-half finish in 1957, following Moir’s second year as boss (and his final one in a player-manager capacity), at least ensured County’s admission to the newly-formed, unitary Division Three. But relegation to the Fourth followed 12 months later, and 1959/60 saw a disappointingly middling performance in the basement division that, by the season’s end, saw Moir dismissed at EP and, sadly, never to work in football management again.
He should nonetheless be remembered by County with fondness - for having been the first to serve the club as manager while still playing; for presiding over teams that liked to score freely, making Moir one of a small handful of Hatters’ Gaffers ever to average over 11⁄2 goals per game; and, not least, for netting that winner at Southport 62 years ago!
5. Willie Moir (b. 19 April 1922, d. 9 May 1988) - County management record in the Football League, 1956-60:
Post by hatter_in_macc on Aug 25, 2018 12:22:23 GMT
This afternoon's piece takes us back to wartime - and a manager who, in his five years at County, saw neither action on the battlefield, nor very much of it (in a competitive sense) on the football field!
Hatter in Macc discovers a supremo who was small in height, but big on reputation.
None of us will have been around to remember him, but there was once a County Manager - or ‘Secretary Manager’, to quote his full title - who gave the club five years of unbroken service, yet only presided over 54 Football League matches in the course of just one season and a half.
How could this be? For David Ashworth, lack of competitive game oversight was down to the world’s major powers and the Great War that saw League football suspended after 1914/15 - his first campaign in charge at Edgeley Park - and not resumed until 1919/20, when, with Christmas less than a week away, it was announced that he would take up the managerial reins at Liverpool.
Eight Hatters’ Gaffers later, with Bobby Marshall occupying the hot-seat upon the outbreak of World War Two, the substantive post was to be held in abeyance, and management responsibilities carried out on an ad hoc basis, from 1939 to 1945. But that was not the case during WW1, when Ashworth simply continued in office - and even enjoyed the rare luxury of fielding a relatively settled and successful wartime County side while he was about it!
Time, then, to find out more about his life and times - as well as an unsurprising nickname!
1. At five feet tall, Ashworth was known as ‘Little Dave’.
His lack of height no doubt restricted his prospects as a footballer - and, indeed, he progressed no further than turning out for village side Newchurch Rovers in the Rossendale district. But, back in the day when the fashion was to appoint ‘Secretary Managers’ who were responsible for getting signatures of players on contracts, as well as deciding which of them should actually take to the field, a distinguished playing record was not a pre-requisite for becoming a boss. Ashworth, in fact, was not alone in moving into management after a spell as a Football League referee.
2. He combined a magical managerial touch with some baffling career moves.
Ashworth’s first post as a manager was at Oldham Athletic, where, during his eight-year stint, he guided the ‘Latics’ to the Lancashire Combination title and into the Football League (in 1907), to promotion from Division Two (1910), and to an FA Cup Semi-final (1913). These were heady days for the Boundary Park side, whose fourth-place finish in the top flight for 1913/14 confirmed them as real First Division Championship contenders with the next campaign approaching. As it happened, Oldham did go very close in 1914/15 - becoming runners-up, just a point behind Everton at the summit - but it was without Ashworth, who, at the previous season’s end, had left to take over at mid-table Second Division County!
Nearly nine years later, ’Little Dave’ created an even huger surprise on deciding to quit at reigning League Champions Liverpool. Having brought the 1921/22 title to Anfield in his second full season after bidding farewell to the Hatters, and got the ‘Reds’ well on course for a follow-up Championship (which, in the event, they achieved) for 1923, he upped sticks halfway through the campaign to return to by-then-relegation-threatened Oldham - who ended up failing to beat the drop. The Liverpool Echo reported, understandably, at the time: ’it will come as a severe shock to all football supporters that Mr Ashworth has seen fit to leave Liverpool at their zenith and join Oldham in the depths.’ And so it did - although one theory put forward a non-footballing reason, and a Stockport connection, behind the switch that had earlier caused sports journalists to scratch their heads. Ashworth’s wife and daughter, who were both invalids, lived in our town, and, having spent three years working on Merseyside, he opted for a job that would be nearer to them.
3. What might have been at County, were it not for the Great War?
The Hatters finished a modest 14th in Division Two, following Ashworth’s inaugural season at EP. But football during the Great War saw them - unlike many clubs, whose players were invariablycalled away to fight - retain the backbone of a team that, in a competitive era, could well have given others a run for their money.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Molyneux, right-back Ralph Goodwin, outside-right Harold Crossthwaite and inside-forward Norman Rodgers - together with a ‘guesting’ centre-half from Huddersfield Town, and subsequent post-war County signing, Fred ‘Tiny’ Fayers (who, although notably diminutive for his position at five feet five inches, still towered over his Hatters’ Gaffer!) - were all regulars over the four seasons that produced top-half finishes every year from 1915 to 1919 in the ‘Lancashire Section Principal’, featuring, at various times, the entire contingent of North-West clubs from the suspended First Division. Rodgers especially caught the eye on account of his 70 wartime goals, which, if added to his 76 in League and Cup games before and after WW1, would have made him County’s all-time leading scorer.
4. The contrasting immediate consequences of world peace for County and ‘Little Dave’…
With the elegantly-moustached Ashworth still at the helm, the Hatters resumed competitive football for 1919/20 with quite a spring in their step. But by the festive season, he was Anfield-bound - and they won only four of their remaining 20 Second Division games, ending up with a 16th place that owed almost everything to their erstwhile good autumn form under ‘Little Dave’. A year later, while he was leading his new charges to a top-three Division One finish, they were cast adrift in the basement position one level below, and relegated to the newly-formed, regionalised third tier.
5. David Ashworth (b. 2 June 1867, d. 23 March 1947) - County management record in the Football League, 1914-19:
Hatter in Macc finds out that there was more to this manager from Scotland than one dreadful season in charge at Edgeley Park.
Those Hatters who were around for the 1969/70 season will have been trying to eradicate it from the collective County memory ever since. But unfortunately for them, and for those of us who have followed, the Football League record books are still not ready to strike it from their pages.
For this was the Third Division campaign that saw County not only finish bottom, but also manage to trouble the scorers no more than a paltry 27 times - which remains to this day a goals-for low by any FL club over a 46-game season. Ever.
Walter Galbraith, born in Glasgow a century ago, was the occupant of the managerial hot-seat for the year… or, at least, for all of it bar the Hatters’ final four matches, at which point, with their relegation already confirmed, he was sacked. And thus began for County a two-decade period in the Fourth Division doldrums of such fallowness that the seasons between 1970/71 and 1988/89 saw only four top-half finishes - none of which was higher than 11th.
Small wonder, then, that this one of County’s half a dozen previous Scottish bosses receives precious little time in the historical limelight around here. But could anyone else have fared better in his shoes, given the circumstances of the day? Or should his earlier managerial destinations have evoked warning signals - among the superstitious, if no-one else?!
1. All other English clubs managed by Galbraith were gone from the League after 1970.
His first steps into management were in 1950/51, during his playing days at New Brighton - then a Division Three North outfit of nearly 30 years’ standing. The stylish left-back marked his time on the Wirral seaside - where, subsequently, he lived in retirement - with the only goal of his career. But, as player-manager, he presided over the club’s final FL season, which saw the ‘Rakers’ finish bottom, fail to gain re-election, and drift into non-league oblivion before eventually folding in 1983.
(Not that 1951 marked the end of the pier for their boss, mind. He actually sold himself to carry on playing third-tier football for Grimsby Town!)
His connections with the demise of the two other clubs he managed in England were far less direct - but their ultimate fates were similar, and in each case within just a few years of his departure. Accrington Stanley - where Galbraith served between 1953 and 1958 - resigned, debt-ridden, from the League in 1962. And, on his beginning that fateful 1969/70 campaign with County, Bradford (Park Avenue) - where he had last worked as General Manager from 1965-67 - were embarking upon what proved to be a last year in the League, as a third successive finish in Division Four’s basement position was anything but lucky, with the Yorkshire outfit being voted out. Galbraith could not rationally be blamed for any of this (indeed, if truth be told, he left both Stanley and Avenue in healthy League positions), but those Hatters who relied on reading the runes in the 1970s and early ‘80s might well have felt all the more nervous on the quartet of occasions when County were to finish in the bottom four and seek re-election at League Annual General Meetings!
2. So, was 1969/70 really as bad as it sounds?
Well, yes. It was one of County’s worst seasons in living memory - with its half a dozen wins only subsequently surpassed in their awfulness by the five from the later, wretched third-tier relegation campaign of 2009/10. Most depressing of all would have been the lack of many - and, on a staggering 25 League and two Cup occasions, ANY - goals to celebrate, however momentarily.
Galbraith presided over this, having initially arrived at Edgeley Park in 1968 as County’s first Chief Scout, before becoming Coach to then-Manager Jimmy Meadows who had guided the Hatters to the Fourth Division title for 1967. The Scot assumed Meadows’ role when the latter and the club parted company, with 10 matches of 1968/69 remaining and County ultimately destined for a ninth-place finish. A respectable-looking position for Galbraith to inherit on the surface - although this appearance was most certainly deceptive, and has tended to over-emphasise any personal failure on his part. In truth, the Hatters were already alarmingly on the slide when he took over - having won just twice between the arrival of the new year in 1969 and the departure of Meadows three months later; home attendances were down 27% on their average from the promotion season two years earlier; and County’s formidable strike partnership had been lost, following the respective sales of Bill Atkins and Jim Fryatt to Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers. What ensued under Galbraith was a process of continued, and not unexpected, decline.
3. Elsewhere, Galbraith had become an unlikely answer to a pub-quiz question!
Who was the first manager of an English club to select a side entirely devoid of Englishmen? Not, as you might immediately suppose, a more modern-day Premier League supremo with a wealth of international playing talent at his disposal - although Gianluca Vialli attracted much media attention for doing so, whilst at Chelsea, on Boxing Day 1999 - but, rather, one Walter McMurray Galbraith, who, during April 1955 against York City, fielded an Accrington team of 11 fellow Scots.
4. Meanwhile, back in Scotland, his reputation remains intact…
Galbraith’s relative success at Accrington, who he steered to four successive top-three finishes in the Third Division North, with an emphasis on recruiting players from north of the border, earned him the nickname of ‘Mr McStanley’ - plus, in 1957, an approach to manage Kilmarnock. He turned that offer down, although, four years later, did move back to Scotland and took over the reins at Hibernian, where he developed the basis of a squad that did rather well under his immediate successor, and future Celtic managerial legend, Jock Stein.
5. Walter Galbraith (b. 26 May 1918, d. November 1995) - County management record in the Football League, 1969-70:
Hatter in Macc takes the column into relatively more recent times to recall a County ‘Messiah’.
Boston fans may not thank me for evoking memories of a Hatters’ Gaffer who was also, in equal measure, a managerial hero and a cult figure at their near-footballing-neighbours Lincoln City - even bearing in mind that ‘near’, in this instance, amounts to around 35 miles!
But it is time the tale were told of Colin Murphy - without whose miracle-working over 30 years ago, County might never have made it as a going concern into the 1990s, let alone enjoyed the sweet successes of that decade under Danny Bergara and then Dave Jones.
Murphy had three spells at Edgeley Park - beginning with a two-month stint as Manager from August to October 1985, and culminating in his return during November 2001, for just under a year, as Director of Football to accompany Carlton Palmer’s first appointment in management.
Neither of those tenures on Murphy’s part saw magic deeds done. But it was for the one in between, when he came back a year after leaving County for Saudi Arabia to coach Jeddah-based side Al-Ittihad, that he deserves the Freedom of Stockport for saving our town’s club.
That was in 1986/87 - the season heralding the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation between the Football League and non-league’s top-tier Conference. And by October 1986, the Hatters, under Jimmy Melia, were already so far adrift, with a paltry six points from 14 games, that they seemed odds-on to be the first FL outfit to be demoted in this way.
Over the seven months that followed Melia’s sacking and Murphy’s re-engagement, County picked up 45 points - and, as the campaign reached its conclusion, could watch the relegation drama play out from a position of safety. The season’s records show the Hatters finished in an unsensational-looking 19th place, as well as having been humiliatingly knocked out of the FA Cup at Northern Premier League Caernarfon Town. But off paper, they had escaped spectacularly.
This Houdini act cannot go unmentioned among Murphy’s more obvious successes as a boss and a coach elsewhere. But he was not only worthy of acclaim for footballing reasons - as any Hatter who ever read his programme notes will testify…
1. ‘To extemporise or not to extemporise, that is the issue we face today.’
In penning his idiosyncratic messages - like the one above that, in 1989, ‘earned’ him a Plain English Campaign Golden Bull gobbledegook award - Murphy simultaneously enthralled and mystified the programme-buying masses with his inventive use of the English language and surrealist imagery. Our own award-winning publication’s ancestor-issues from 1986/87 are notably sought after, and rather more so than those of other Fourth Division contemporaries, for his unique musings.
2. By Jove, where did you get that hat?!
‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’, as an old advertising slogan implored when Murphy - born in 1944 - was a lad. He took the advice during adult life - and, not untypically for him, did so in a rather distinctive way by making a deerstalker his headwear of choice. This sartorial Sherlock Holmes tribute on occasions went further, when he also sported a cape and checked trousers.
“Excellent!” his adoring Hatters cried. “Elementary”, said he.
3. He managed at every level in the Football League… and far, far beyond.
Murphy, who never played professionally, got his first managerial break in the top flight - taking over from Dave Mackay at Derby County for 1976/77. He occupied the hot-seat at Southend United - where he bought, nurtured and sold on, at a then-whopping £2.5 million profit, young striker (and latter-day outspoken pundit), Stan Collymore - in the second tier during 1992/93. And later that same decade, he added Notts County to Lincoln - more of whom anon - and the Hatters as clubs for whom he was a gaffer in the lower divisions. Across the Irish Sea, Murphy also worked wonders for Shelbourne, whose team, within six months during 2004/05, he took from the edge of the League of Ireland’s relegation zone to just a few points short of the title, as well as to the FAI Cup Final. And, even further afield, he served as national coach to both Burma and Vietnam - guiding the latter to a Bronze Medal at the Southeast Asian Games in 1997.
4. Murphy and the curious case of the Lincs links.
Fans of Lincoln City, like we Hatters, had cause to worship ‘Merlin’ Murphy - as he first became known for guiding the ‘Imps’ to promotion from Division Four in 1980/81. Following a seven-year stint at Lincoln that ended with his first EP appointment in 1985, Murphy’s next notable act of wizardry - namely, the Hatters’ great escape from the basement position during his second County spell - was not quite so enthusiastically lauded at Sincil Bank, as the Imps ended up in that dreaded 24th place on the final day of 1986/87 to suffer the inaugural automatic drop intothe Conference.
Whether out of sympathy, guilt, attachment from the early ‘80s, or a combination of all three, Murphy’s next career move was to go down a level into the world of non-league and return to Lincoln - taking with him a posse of five County players in the process. One of them, centre-half Trevor Matthewson, was duly made captain of the Imps, who proceeded to bounce straight back into the FL as Conference champions at the first time of asking. And with that, his God-like standing in the cathedral city was restored. Lincoln supporters, in 1989, even named a fanzine - Deranged Ferret - after another of his classic programme-note phrases.
But did he still hold a place in his heart for County afterwards? Best, perhaps, to leave this one to the man himself - writing about the Hatters, as only he could, after rescuing us and then moving on:
‘...Reminiscent of the eerie old haunted house that had been empty for years and was begging for life. No different to the dodo. How joyful for them not to have acrimoniated in the non-league. How delightful for them to be making a success of defeating extinction. Let us hope we are all able to be pulmonic!’
Well, quite. And Amen to that!
5. Colin Murphy (b. 21 January 1944) - County management record in the Football League, 1985 and 1986-87 (two spells):
Right, as Fred should have said at the time… time to speak Up for this unsung County boss! Hatter in Macc gets Deeply Dippy ‘bout Mr Westgarth.
Fred Westgarth, the third of three Freds to manage County during the first half of last century, was in the hot-seat at Edgeley Park for far less time than Fred Stewart (whose 10-year, eight-month and 10-day spell in charge from 1 September 1900 remains the Hatters’ Gaffers’ record in terms of continuity, and was only surpassed as a total by our current boss last season).
Westgarth also only ever presided over the team in the Football League’s third tier - unlike either Stewart or the second Fred, Scotchbrook, who both plied their managerial trade a level higher.
And yet the man who came into view - and then ever so gradually - from seven years in the EP boot-room to take over the reins during the early mid-1930s proceeded not only to establish himself, at least statistically speaking, as one of County’s top three managers of all time, but also to lay direct foundations for the Third Division North title success of 1937.
Ready to hear more about Freddie? Ok - Don’t Talk, Just… erm, listen:
1. He hailed from an area that travelling Hatters have grown to know well in recent weeks!
Westgarth was born during the summer of 1887 in South Shields, one year before the Tyneside coastal town’s original team - albeit one twice removed from the outfit County visited in the FA Cup three Saturdays ago - first played. And without having ever taken to the field as a League footballer himself, he began a career in the sport as Assistant Trainer to his home club - before wandering far and wide from South Shields to become Trainer at Ebbw Vale, Workington, Luton Town and eventually, in 1926 (not long after Fred Scotchbrook’s departure for Wolves the same year), at County, where he served under Lincoln Hyde and, subsequently, Andrew Wilson.
A couple of decades later, Westgarth was to return to the North East and managed Hartlepools (as they were known before the creation of a single Hartlepool borough saw the ’s’ dropped in 1968), as well as keeping hens that he allowed to run around Victoria Park other than on match days. But more of that - the ‘pools, not the poultry - anon…
2. The strange case of Fred’s crab-like drift into management for some record-smashing.
Having been Trainer at EP for five years until Hyde’s move to Preston North End in 1931, followed by one season (1931/32) in which the club’s Directors took it upon themselves to pick the team, and another (1932/33) that saw the free-scoring Hatters, guided by Wilson, net 99 times but miss out on promotion from Division Three North, Westgarth emerged blinking from the shadows of the old Hardcastle Road grandstand to assume responsibility for player selection as County’s Golden Jubilee campaign of 1933/34 got under way.
Officially, he kept the title of Trainer that term. But, crucially, he was now granted respective bonuses of £2 and £1 for each win and draw - and the pockets of his new management-esque waistcoat were to become rather nicely lined, courtesy of 22 League victories and half that number again by way of matches that finished all-square. Unfortunately for Westgarth, he had omitted to negotiate a bonus for goals scored - in a season that saw the Hatters net a whopping 115 times! That total still stands as a club record, as do the 84 goals they put away at EP, Alf Lythgoe’s individual tally of 46, and County’s 13-0 thrashing of Halifax - a margin of victory which has never been surpassed, and only once been equalled, elsewhere in the League.
3. Were we Too Sexy for the Third?
With that goal-scoring prowess? Possibly. But County ended up three points off the top spot, and the sole promotion position, for 1934 - and, in the wake of Westgarth’s formal designation as Manager, finished seventh and fifth for the two seasons that followed. He did, however, succeed in bringing some silverware to EP, as the Hatters beat Walsall 2-0 to win the Third Division North Challenge Cup in 1934/35 - a campaign which also saw them reach the FA Cup Fifth Round for the first time, before going for five against eventual finalists West Bromwich Albion. And when he resigned from office during September 1936, the fruits of his legacy were to be reaped just over six months later when County, under new boss Bob Kelly, became Division Three North champions.
4. East, West, North’s best…
Who knows how Westgarth might have fared, had he remained in post to have a crack at Second Division football? As it happened, the title-winning Hatters came straight back down in 1937/38 under Kelly - who had arrived at EP from Carlisle United - and Westgarth continued to spend the entirety of his career managing clubs, as well as the remainder of it crossing paths with County on a biannual basis, in Division Three North until the regional section’s penultimate season of 1956/57.
As coincidence would have it, his first post-County move found him at Carlisle (1936-38)… as his Hatters’ Gaffer successor’s successor! The next stop was Bradford City (1938-43) - and during his first season there Westgarth once again achieved Third Division North Challenge Cup success - before the 12-year stint with Hartlepools (1943-57), where, following a series of post-war mid-to-lower-table showings, he really got the ‘Monkey Hangers’ swinging, courtesy of two top-five finishes for 1955 and 1956 that boded well for an unprecedented tilt at promotion in 1956/57.
Alas for Westgarth, that season was to prove the final one for him in every sense. After watching his side unfortunately but thrillingly edged out by the odd goal in seven, and before a record Victoria Park attendance of 17,264, against Matt Busby’s United ‘Babes’ in the FA Cup Third Round on 5 January 1957, he was taken seriously ill - and passed away within a month. The end of the campaign saw Hartlepools finish as runners-up in the third tier. It remains their best-ever League placing - and was a fitting tribute to Fred’s memory.
5. Fred Westgarth (b. 1 July 1887, d. 4 February 1957) - County management record in the Football League, 1933-34 (as Trainer) and 1934-36:
Indisputably, County’s ‘Best Manager’? By George, yes! Hatter in Macc declares that Roy was the boy… at least for three matches in 1975.
Hatters of a certain age, who were around for our sole season under Roy Chapman, will know immediately that we are not talking in terms of quantitative success or qualitative greatness here. The campaign of 1975/76 - which saw County finish 21st in Division Four and apply to be re-elected for a third time inside four years - was, after all, much like many of the others that, from 1970, were spent struggling over two decades in the Football League’s basement-section.
Yet, it was also a season that will forever be remembered for the trilogy of matches at Edgeley Park in which one of the - nay, any - era’s greatest footballers turned out as a Hatter. And, as the gaffer who brought him in on the short-term deal from late November to Boxing Day 1975, Chapman could truly and factually lay claim to being ‘County’s (George) Best Manager’!
Not only that, but the arrangement threw up a couple of ‘blink-and-miss-them’ connections with today’s visitors. While ‘Boro’-ing further into Chapman’s back-story, let us start with those…
1. Both Chapman and Best turned out, ever so briefly, for Nuneaton.
In Chapman’s case, the spell at Boro’s then-home Manor Park came during the early stages of 1969/70, following a similarly short mid-to-late-summer run-out with Chester - and in the twilight of a playing career that, for the previous 17 years, had seen the Birmingham-born inside-forward play locally in the top flight for Aston Villa, before plying his trade, from 1957 to 1969, as a prolific goal-scorer in the lower divisions with Lincoln City (twice), Mansfield Town and Port Vale. He left Nuneaton when the opportunity arrived during October 1969 to become player-manager in the Northern Premier League at Stafford Rangers - where he was to enjoy six years of considerable success in the hot-seat (more of which later) prior to joining County.
Legendary Northern Irish winger Best, meanwhile, was well beyond even his twilight when he took to the field at Manor Park in 1983 for a friendly against Coventry City. He was by then 36 going on 37, and had officially retired from the professional game. But his presence in a Nuneaton shirt helped boost the attendance on a cold March evening to over four thousand, raising valuable funds in the process for a club that was reeling at the time from an especially huge tax bill - and, for added good measure on the night, he cheered the Boro faithful by putting away a penalty. Much, in fact, as Best had delighted Hatters nearly eight years earlier in the contests with Swansea, Watford and Southport that had featured two goals and three assists for him, a pair of victories and one draw for County, and over 20,000 clicks at the EP turnstiles
2. Hist-Roy in the making: as a player.
Having returned to Lincoln for a second spell in 1965/66, and whilst in the role there of player-manager for one season, Chapman was ideally placed to write his own name into the Sincil Bank record books when, at half-time in the second match of his reign on 23 August 1965, he brought himself on at Darlington to replace a fellow Brummie inside-forward, Bernard ‘Bunny’ Larkin - thereby becoming the first ‘Imp’ ever to appear as a substitute.
Chapman also featured as half of an attacking double-act that created a Football League milestone at Mansfield - with 1962/63, thanks to his 30 successful strikes and Ken Wagstaff’s 34, being the last occasion on which any club has had two players scoring 30 FL goals or more apiece in the same season. And he finished several other campaigns at different outfits as leading scorer: for Lincoln (in 1958/59, 1960/61 and - having reverted simply to playing, after his year as player-manager - 1966/67), as well as for Port Vale (in 1967/68 and 1968/69).
3. Hist-Roy in the making: as a manager.
Chapman might not have achieved success as a Hatters’ Gaffer - and, after being a free-scoring forward himself, would surely have felt immense frustration at presiding over a side in a season that saw County fail to net in 19 out of the 43 League matches for which he was in charge. But, either side of his year at EP, he had, and was to continue to have, an excellent pedigree in non-league management - courtesy of two stints with Stafford, from 1969-75 and 1977-80 that yielded a Northern Premier League title, together with two FA Trophy and Staffordshire Senior Cup victories, including, for 1971/72, an NPL/Trophy/County Cup treble that has never been matched before or since.
The 1974/75 season also saw Chapman guide Rangers to the FA Cup Fourth Round after putting out three League sides - including the Hatters, who admired in defeat, and acted just over nine months later in securing, the services of their giant-killing opponents’ boss!
4. Like father, like son…
Born in 1959, Lee Chapman was given Roy as a middle name and also followed his father’s lead on the pitch by playing up top with considerable effectiveness in front of goal. At various times between 1978 and 1996, he was a top-flight striker - turning out for Stoke, Arsenal, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, West Ham and Ipswich, winning the League Cup with Forest in 1989, and, three years later, being a key part of the Leeds squad that became the final champions of the ‘old’ First Division prior to the Premier League’s formation.
By then, alas, Chapman Senior was not around to celebrate his son’s achievements as a player. In 1983, while Lee was with Arsenal, Roy suffered a fatal heart attack during a five-a-side match. He had just turned 49.
5. Roy Chapman (b. 18 March 1934, d. 21 March 1983) - County management record in the Football League, 1975-76:
‘Ooh, Andy Kilner’ - those long throws and left-footed screamers! Hatter in Macc remembers an unlikely playing hero who became an unlikely managerial appointee.
It is a constantly sobering thought for Hatters, a fact of which we ourselves are regularly reminded by the media and rival fans, and a story that those of us with underage, County-supporting children find it difficult to recount to offspring in a wholly believable way. But, up until just over 16 years ago, our club was completing a five-year stint in The Championship.
Back then, it still went by the name of Division One - two seasons ahead of assuming its current moniker. But it was English football’s second tier - and, for over two years of the quinquennium that covered County’s residence there, a young boss in his early 30s took charge at Edgeley Park.
Andy Kilner’s appointment in 1999 by Chairman Brendan Ellwood was a popular decision at the time. ‘Killer’ had, after all, become a darling of the County Faithful for his role as a player in Danny Bergara’s promotion-winning Fourth Division side of 1990/91 - and, after hanging up his boots, Kilner’s return to SK3 to work successfully with County’s ‘Football in the Community’ scheme and Centre of Excellence brought to the fore his abilities as a member of the backroom team.
But it was also - as Sir Humphrey Appleby might have remarked a decade earlier to by-then-Prime Minister Jim Hacker - a courageous one. Bolton-born Kilner had never before served as a first-team boss, and, at 32, he became the Football League’s youngest one of the day - albeit seven years off the lower-age record for a Hatters’ Gaffer, which is still held from four decades ago by the 25-year-old player-manager Alan Thompson.
So, what are the ‘Killer’ facts? First off, one for tonight’s visiting readers…
1. Kilner briefly stole the show as a ‘Magpie’ at Chorley.
A good number of past and present County players have also plied their trade with Chorley - and, interestingly, there were several from the Bergara years who later turned out there. Kilner played fleetingly on the left wing at Victory Park in 1993/94, around the same time as midfielder Mark Payne, and a few years before either striker Neil Matthews or record appearance-holding Hatter Andy Thorpe. For all four, the stints were to be very much of the twilight kind, with ‘Killer’ only featuring in one subsequent campaign for Norwegian outfit Fredrikstad before the long-standing effects of two broken legs - suffered as a youth player at Burnley, and, later, whilst in Sweden shortly before joining County - forced his retirement from the game at the age of just 29.
2. A more than ‘Andy player…
But one, if truth be told, who was completely unheralded, and mostly unheard of, when brought on as a substitute at EP against Gillingham on New Year’s Day 1991. A couple of seasons with Burnley had been followed by a two-year voyage for Kilner into the world of non-league at Hyde and Altrincham and, from 1988 to 1990, a further one across the North Sea for his Swedish playing adventures with Vänersborgs and Jonsereds. He was, then, hardly in the English game’s public gaze when he was offered a trial at County during Sweden’s winter close season - thanks to a connection with Bergara’s Assistant Manager John Sainty, who had coached the young Kilner at Turf Moor.
Kilner’s impact was nevertheless immediate as 1991 was ushered in. Exhortations from the terraces on 1 January to ‘get the ball out to that fella on the left - he knows what to do with it!’ became cheers with his name in them when, three days later, he scored both goals in a 2-0 defeat of Wrexham. Kilner would net 10 more times before the promotion season’s end - and a winning half-volley with his left foot from the Pop Side of the box against Torquay remains, to this writer’s mind, the greatest strike ever seen at EP - but he was adored in equal measure for his surging, old-fashioned runs past defenders down the left, his exocet-throws into the box that were more dangerous than corners, and his ability to put away a penalty (or two, as was the case during a 5-0 ‘too-sexy-for- the-Third’ demolition of Swansea for the 1991/92 post-promotion opener!).
3. … who, as a manager, fared unluc-Kil-y?
Up to a point, perhaps, given that Kilner took over a squad from which many players who had secured promotion out of the third tier, and achieved two solid second-tier finishes under Gary Megson, had moved on. And yet his first half-season in charge left the Hatters holding sixth place at the turn of the new century, before a record-breaking run of 19 matches without a win until late April saw them finish 17th. Players continued to be sold, and replaced by less expensive options - and although Kilner’s knowledge of the Scandinavian scene did bring some cheer in the forms of Finnish arrivals Shefki Kuqi and Jarkko Wiss, County ended up two positions lower for 2000/01. Then, 15 games into the following campaign, with just one victory recorded and the Hatters at the bottom of the table, Kilner and the club parted company. The Football League’s quickest post-war relegation was to follow for County fewer than five months later, with another previously-untried boss, Carlton Palmer, at the helm.
What Kilner did succeed in doing was helping to keep the Hatters in the second flight for their longest stay since the FL’s expansion beyond two tiers following the First World War. He also, in 2001, guided them to the FA Cup Fifth Round for only the third time ever. And when managing County in meetings with Manchester City, he was never once in the losing dugout… but twice in the victorious one - including for our current gaffer’s pre-season testimonial, against former FIFA World Player of the Year/future Liberian President George Weah et al.
4. On ‘Fire’ with the Ohio Players.
Kilner is back overseas these days - Stateside, as it happens, where he owns and runs a successful juniors’ club, AK Cleveland Elite FC, in Ohio - while retaining a fond attachment to the club over here that he served both on the pitch and in various capacities off it. Thanks for the memorable moments, ‘Killer’.
5. Andy Kilner (b. 11 October 1966) - County management record in the Football League, 1999-2001: