Big names gather to remember Lyall

AROUND 200 mourners packed into a Suffolk church yesterday to pay tribute to legendary football boss John Lyall.Dozens of famous names attended the memorial service for the ex-Ipswich and West Ham manager, held at St Mary Le Tower Church, in Ipswich.

AROUND 200 mourners packed into a Suffolk church yesterday to pay tribute to legendary football boss John Lyall.

Dozens of famous names attended the memorial service for the ex-Ipswich and West Ham manager, held at St Mary Le Tower Church, in Ipswich.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Trevor Brooking were joined by Lyall's grandchildren, Charlie and Sam, in reading tributes to the 66-year-old, who died from a heart attack at his home, in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, on April 18.

Sir Alex, Manchester United boss, said: “Football managing is about strength and John epitomised that very clearly. He was straightforward and very down to earth. They are great qualities.


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“I first met John on holiday in 1982 when the World Cup was on. Did we talk about the holiday? No, we talked about football and tactics and the wives listened to us.

“As time went on, we still kept in touch while I was manager at Aberdeen and John at West Ham.

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“When I took the job at Manchester United, I didn't have a great insight into the tactics of teams in England. I relied on John and he was fantastic.

“Really, that help was essential to my start at Manchester United. We lost some games but that was John's fault.”

Sir Alex, who thanked Lyall's family for the “privilege” of being able to speak at the service, said: “It was one of the great relationships I had with a manager.

“Even when he finished the game, he always paid attention to how we were playing.”

Sir Trevor Brooking spoke of his close affinity with his former boss and recalled his winning header in the 1980 FA Cup final, when the Hammers were led to victory by Lyall.

He said: “He always said it was final icing on his CV - to get me to score a header in the FA Cup final.”

He added: “We mustn't forget his time with Ipswich. Ipswich was a club very close to his heart. I know for the past 12 years he and his family have been very happy in Suffolk.

“It's a very sad occasion. I still think that one or two of us haven't come to terms with the fact he has gone.”

Lyall's grandchildren, Sam and Charlie, also read out tributes, while their father, Murray, read from the bible.

Sam said: “My Granddad, he did lots of football for me everyday. He took us to Center Parcs every Christmas. All of us loved him.”

Charlie said: “My Granddad was my best friend. If I needed help with anything, he would help me. My Granddad helped and showed me how to play football to make us better at it.”

Journalist Michael Hart, who co-wrote Lyall's autobiography, said: “I think the number of people here today, from all areas of his life tells us about the esteem in which he was held.

“He retained his affinity for both clubs he managed and his love of football. In recent years, he had become disenchanted with some of the less charmless aspects of the modern game.

“We will all miss him but for Yvonne and the family, he is irreplaceable. Our thoughts should be with them.”

Canon Peter Townley, who led the service with the Revd Chris Wingfield, said: “We give thanks for John Lyall, a true gentleman in the world of sport, respected for his straightforwardness and honesty.

“He cared deeply for his players and for the fans. They, in turn, cared deeply for him.”

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