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Gallery and poll: Ipswich Town’s 20 best-ever signings

06:00 15 November 2014

An iconic moment in the history of Ipswich Town Football Club as Arnold Muhren is joined by fellow Dutchman Frans Thijssen in February 1979. The "Dutch Masters

An iconic moment in the history of Ipswich Town Football Club as Arnold Muhren is joined by fellow Dutchman Frans Thijssen in February 1979. The "Dutch Masters'' would play a huge role for Town in the coming seasons.

Archant

Over the years, Ipswich Town have signed hundreds of players. Some of them have worked out brilliantly – others haven’t.

Today, we give you the very best of Town’s transfer deals. Feel free to argue with us!

And see our worst 20 signings here.

Roy Bailey

Goalkeeper who was an integral part of Alf Ramsey’s team which won the First Division title in 1962. Like most of his team-mates, Bailey had an undistinguised career before flourishing under the genius management of Ramsey. His son, Gary, played in goal for Manchester United - memorably conceding six at Portman Road in 1980.

Paul Cooper

Another legendary Town keeper, Cooper was signed from Birmingham to be understudy to Laurie Sivell. He displaced the diminutive Sivell to become Town’s reliable number one during the glory years. Remarkable penalty saving record. Would have played for England in the modern era, but had the likes of Shilton and Clemence ahead of him back then.

Ray Crawford

What were Pompey thinking of? Portsmouth let Crawford leave for a pittance, only to watch in horror as he became just about the best centre-forward in England. Why he only played twice for his country, goodness only knows. Had a second spell at Portman Road, helping McGarry’s team gain promotion to the top division. Famously scored twice for Colchester at the end of his career to knock mighty Leeds out of the FA Cup.

Matt Holland

Burley’s captain who memorably lifted the Play-off trophy at Wembley in 2000 after several years of agonising near misses. Great engine in midfield, hard but fair tackler, weighed in with his fair share of goals, and exemplary character.

Allan Hunter

Hugely significant signing for Robson. After George Best had single-handedly demolished Ipswich in a League Cup tie at Portman Road, the crowd called for Robson’s head, he was convinced he would be sacked in the morning. Instead, chairman John Cobbold apologised, and let Robson sign commanding centre-half Hunter. The first great Robson team was being constructed. A lesson for trigger-happy chairmen everywhere?

David Johnson (1970s)

The swapping of Rod Belfitt for little-known Everton youngster David Johnson took Town fans by surprise. But what a shrewd move. He established a lethal goalscoring partnership with local boy Trevor Whymark.

David Johnson (1990s)

Same name, same goalscoring prowess. David Johnson the Second was signed by Burley to boost his promotion-seeking late 1990s team. The goals flowed, and Johnson started (but didn’t finish) the Play-off final in 2000. Couldn’t score goals in the Premier League, though.

Jimmy Leadbetter

Leadbetter looked anything but a footballer. Like so many others, his career was transformed by Ramsey, who converted him from journeyman winger, tucked him inside, and created the supply chain for Phillips and Crawford.

Jim Magilton

Signed by Burley to provide the midfield guile and sublime passing for his late 1990s team.Who can forget Magilton’s hat-trick against Bolton? Surely the most dramatic game ever at Portman Road.

Arnold Muhren

The Dutchman got a stiff neck during his debt against Liverpool, watching the ball flying repeatedly over his head. Robson soon adapted the team’s style to get the best from the Dutchman’s magical left foot. At the end of his career, Muhren memorably supplied the cross for Marco van Basten’s “goal of the century’’ volley for Holland.

Paul Mariner

Town won a three-way tug of war with West Ham and West Brom to get Mariner from Plymouth. Marked his home debut with a sensational solo goal, and never looked back. Part of the FA Cup winning team and the UEFA Cup triumph three years later. Scored a lot of goals for England, too.

Andy Nelson

The captain of Alf Ramsey’s ground-breaking 1962 team which shocked the football world by winning the title in their first season in Division One. Another one rescued from obscurity by the genius who was Ramsey.

John O’Rourke

Didn’t stay long, but played a huge part while he was here. O’Rourke was the final piece in the jigsaw in McGarry’s 1968 Second Division championship-winning team. Scored the goals which got us over the line.

Jimmy Robertson

Without JimmyRobertson, the history of Ipswich Town would look very different. Town were in desperate trouble when he signed from Arsenal towards the end of the 1969-70 season. He and Frank Clarke inspired the team to a run which avoided the drop. The rest is history.

Roy Stephenson

Same story as Jimmy Leadbetter. A winger who Ramsey tucked inside, to confuse opposing defences - the prototype for the “wingless wonders’’ who won the 1966 World Cup.

Marcus Stewart

Signed from Huddersfield (Terriers’ fans would say stolen) to boost Burley’s ultimately successful promotion bid in 2000. Unforgettably rescued Town in the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Bolton, and then headed home the vital third goal at Wembley. Also scored for fun in our first, wonderful season back in the Premier League.

Mauricio Taricco

Supposedly a makeweight in the deal which brough Adrian Paz to Portman Road. While the Uruguyan Paz flopped, Taricco established himself as a Portman Road legend. Feisty, to say the least!

Frans Thijssen

The other half of the Dutch duo. Thijssen arrived half a season after Muhren. Totally different player - a dribbler rather than a passer - but the pair complemented each other brilliantly. Memorably chucked mud at the ball to make Liverpool miss a vital penalty at Anfield!

Mark Venus

One of those unheralded signings which works out brilliantly. Venus came to Town from Wolves as part of the deal which saw Steve Sedgley go to Molineux. We certainly got

the better of that one! Venus was brilliant in Burley’s team - and scored some cracking goals as well.

Fabian Wilnis

We were all worried when Taricco was sold, to be replaced by an unknown Dutchman. But Fab was great. We’ll never forget the step-over trick - every time he attacked. And his disparaging comments about Norwich have cemented his legendary status. “Fabian Wilnis, he’s a blue - he hates Norwich.’’

35 comments

  • Surely captain courageous Terry Butcher should be included in this list. He was a man mountain at the back.

    Report this comment

    Paul Chapman

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

  • John Wark could have been included as he re-signed twice. I would also question why Romeo Zondervan is never mentioned - especially when talking about foreign players?

    Report this comment

    mwmartin

    Monday, November 17, 2014

  • Nice article with great summaries . It also says transfer signings that's why it does not include the great Beattie and Wark ...but I guess he did sign twice later on ?? So maybe winner should be Warky ?...but I voted for Ray !

    Report this comment

    C. Reynolds

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Ulrich Le Pen? Mark Fish? Class.

    Report this comment

    TrueBlue

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • The question was who were our best ever signings - not our best ever players. If the latter, I would obviously have included Wark & Beattie.

    Report this comment

    Richard Gardiner

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Finidi George, good one ha ha also Graham Harbey although we did manage to sell him on

    Report this comment

    saxon

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • When interviewed on TV many years ago, Sir Alf was asked, "Who was the best club and England player you managed?" He replied, "Jimmy Leadbetter".

    Report this comment

    Keith Adams

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Well, if it's only transfers it's got to be Finidi George.

    Report this comment

    tel

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • I agree with Saxon in that Kevin Beattie was the best ever Town player and it is such a tragedy he never played for England or the blues as much as his performances warranted.

    Report this comment

    FRANK WESTON

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • TEL It says on bottom of page we give u the very best of town TRANSFER deals to vote on

    Report this comment

    saxon

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Arnold: his first or second game, seeing space, passing into it, and Mick Mills looking bewildered some 20 metres back, and then learning what we had, stays with me always. And, of course, alongside him, the incomparably great Kevin Beattie (alongside the equally incomparably great Allan Hunter).

    Report this comment

    Ken Hairy

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Saxon, where does it say transfers? It says signings, everybody signs.

    Report this comment

    tel

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Hate to have to agree with cyril but i don,t think town have ever had a goalkeeper better than Roy Baily.

    Report this comment

    saxon

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • The greatest skill remains that of putting the ball in the net & Crawford achieved this some 200 times in about 320 matches for ITFC. Unlike the Robson era Town were not a fashionable side when he played - & he was not a modern day lone striker - sharing his goalscoring with Phillips. He was however the complete centre forward - & his record is unlikely to be equalled.

    Report this comment

    Old Timer

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • The vote is on Towns best transfers simply put Wark and Beattie were not transfers. Still think Beattie is our best ever player.

    Report this comment

    saxon

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Can anyone seriously consider John O'Rourke as a contender for the greatest player title. Come on, get real, he only played 69 times.

    Report this comment

    tel

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • Good list, though personally would have had Mogga in there instead of Johnson (90s) and Venus.He was the boss at the back who organised the back line with authority. Commanding centre back for Town of that era.

    Report this comment

    BlueSuedeShoes

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • I can only think Wark and Beattie are not on the list as they came through the youth team and were not actually signed from another club. I note l Roy Bailie has not got a vote yet but my god wouldnt we like him now.

    Report this comment

    Cyril Baker

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • I can only think Wark and Beattie are not on the list as they came through the youth team and were not actually signed from another club. I note l Roy Bailie has not got a vote yet but my god wouldnt we like him now.

    Report this comment

    Cyril Baker

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Wasn't best signing from the scout who saw Portsmouth were scrapping their youth scheme and snapped up a certain Mick Mills for free?

    Report this comment

    Paul Geater

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Wasn't best signing from the scout who saw Portsmouth were scrapping their youth scheme and snapped up a certain Mick Mills for free?

    Report this comment

    Paul Geater

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Whether through the academy or not, they still signed contracts. John Wark finished ahead of Ian Rush one season at Liverpool in goal scoring. To leave them both out is farcical. A bit of a botch up in sports department perhaps.

    Report this comment

    tel

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • My mind went firstly to Kevin Beattie, then Johnny Wark, probably the two best players we have ever had then I remembered th impact of Ray Crawford then thought of how Arnold Muhren forced change on Bobby Robson's great team so eventually gave him my vote simply because of the change he engendered.

    Report this comment

    BlueArgyll

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • I've gone for Frans Thijssen, just ahead of Muhren. Difficult to split them as they were Robson's master stroke, they moved us up a level. Other players were hugely important in their own eras too - Paul Mariner, David Johnson (70's) and Marcus Stewart for example.

    Report this comment

    Rod Bennett

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • By the way whymarkmariner,how much would those two be worth on the open market today ?

    Report this comment

    miketyreson

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • some really good posts by you whymarkmariner just lately,your sentiment is spot on.For such a small club and a fairly small fan base.we have punched above our weight for many years,we have been so lucky.My first game was a couple of years after Bobby Robson took over and i have seen some of the greatest football this country had to offer.The game has changed and i have had to change with it,i have changed my expectation level considerably,but still love the live game.I have said on here before,it's pretty good this season and i'd like to see a few more give it a try,this current team deserve it

    Report this comment

    miketyreson

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • John wark sorry

    Report this comment

    richard procter

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Impossible poll. On the basis that he saved us from relegation it's got to be Jimmy Robertson. As two of the most brilliant players for Ipswich it's got to be Muhren and Thijssen. But the two best ever, must be Beattie and Wark.

    Report this comment

    JOHN BURLS

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • I can only assume Kevin Beattie and John warm etc were not signed on ,they came through the academy, ,and Kevin will always to me be the best defender I have ever seen ,he would be worth £50 million today. Frans thissen would be my choice, ,would walk round the opposition for fun ,brilliant.

    Report this comment

    richard procter

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • It is clear that Kevin Beattie would have picked up a lot of votes. Was he left out just to provoke arguments? He cannot be left out if we are to have a serious debate.

    Report this comment

    tel

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Arnold Muhren for me. A close call with Frans Thyssen, but although Thyssen was the more "spectacular" with his amazing dribbling,Muhren was the creator in the team. Not just a good footballer but had a footballing brain and did simple but effective things. I remember seeing him get three players ( Clive Woods and two defenders) to run after a ball that he never kicked, but just kicked over the ball then rolled it backwards in one quick motion, to make a pass into the box. I agree with a previous poster that John Wark should also be on that list.

    Report this comment

    Kevin Knights

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Thijssen and Muhren for me, class, to young to have seen anything other than clips but one would take it past your entire team the other would simply split them wide open with a sublime pass. As for the modern era Tariccccccccòoooooooooooooo! Not the most gifted but utterly committed, not to be messed with. 1990s David Johnson? Really? One season wonder I rate Shefqui more and Ian Marshall! Remember seeing Paz play in a town shirt and thought he did ok in that particular game but i was about 7 so maybe misjudged. Matt Holland, captain fantastic!

    Report this comment

    TrueBlue

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • This is so difficult. As players have had different circumstances to make their impact. Crawford was a great, Jimmy Robertson and Frank Clarke saved us, Mariner Muhren and Thyssen were pieces of a jigsaw. David Johnson (70's) was a superb striker. Matty Holland was a master in midfield, loved for his talent by the men and adored for his good looks by the ladies. But over the years we have had others to make an impact. What about Leeds super sub Rod Belfitt? As a follower of Town for some 50 years I must say I feel privileged to have seen so many greats. At the end of the day in terms of cash and crowds we are a small team, so to have had so many good teams over this period is a testimony to Chairmen, Owners and Managers ( With the exception of a few). Long may it continue, with every hope and wish for the future.

    Report this comment

    whymarkmariner

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • So many great players and couldn't argue with any but I would have added john walk and Kevin Beattie to the list .

    Report this comment

    Townman

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • Ray Crawford joining Town changed us permanently. Before him, we were a Third Division team who had one brief disastrous flirtation with life in Division 2. He then came to Portman Road, teamed up with Ted Philips and the rest is history. We've never been back to the 3rd tier of English football since - despite the best endeavours of messrs Keane & Jewell.

    Report this comment

    Richard Gardiner

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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