‘He did not allow his players to drive or ride motor bikes’... TONY GARNETT remembers one former Ipswich Town boss!
TONY GARNETT is a doyen of Ipswich Town journalism. In the latest Kings of Anglia magazine, which is out now, he tells the fascinating tale of former Blues boss SCOTT DUNCAN, who was manager from 1937-1955.
Scott Duncan counted the pennies.
The story goes that when the Ipswich Town party was having breakfast at the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street Station he dropped some loose change under the table. He was seen on his hands and knees anxious to account for every halfpenny.
How upset he must have been when he took possession of a new Austin A40, buying it just 24 hours before the announcement of a price reduction. He owned only two cars in his many years connected with Ipswich Town. He had previously owned a Wolseley 16
He would study every claim for expenses in depth and treated Town money as though it were his own.
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Duncan had been a winger with Newcastle United and was manager of Manchester United when he agreed to join Ipswich in 1937. A crate of vintage port was said to have found its way to Old Trafford in exchange for his services.
His contribution to the club was immense. He was well respected.
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It was his influence and canvassing that secured the votes that saw Ipswich Town elected to the Football League in place of Gillingham for the 1938-39 season.
Duncan was never a track suit manager, but in those days very few were.
Stanley Matthews, in his biography by David Miller, said: "In my days at Manchester United Scott Duncan seldom left his office. He almost always wore a smart suit and a Homburg hat. He could easily have been a bank manager."
Duncan did not allow his players to drive cars or ride motor bikes.
Goalkeeper Roy Bailey was the first Ipswich player to own a car after Scott Duncan had retired. It was said, however, that Ted Pole used to ride his motor bike into town and then catch a bus to the ground.
Duncan had a point.
In 1953 four players in a Land Rover borrowed from John Cobbold crashed at Yoxford. They were on their way back from a cricket match at Gorleston. Don Green, Tommy Parker, George Clarke and Pole were all injured. The accident ended Green's career.
Duncan's most notable signings after the Second World war included Parker, John Elsworthy, Jimmy Leadbetter, Billy Reed, Jack Parry and George McLuckie.
Duncan had a prickly relationship with Ramsey, but that can hardly have been a surprise. Departing managers tend not to wish their successors too much glory.
FEBRUARY 24, 1954 was a sorry day for Ipswich Town and Scott Duncan.
They had reached the fifth round of the FA Cup after beating Reading, Walthamstow Avenue after a replay, Oldham Athletic after a replay and Birmingham City.
Then came the trip to Deepdale to face First Division Preston North End and their star England winger Tom Finney.
It turned into a battle between Finney and Ipswich's Irish left-back Jim Feeney. It became an ugly encounter which Ipswich lost 6-1.
Walter Pilkington, one of the experienced northern football writers when I started to cover Ipswich, slated Ipswich. He considered their tactics to be exceeding the limits of robust vigour.
Pilkington wrote: "Eight successive free-kicks were awarded for tackles against Finney and rarely have I seen this lion-hearted forward take so much unpardonable punishment in the heat and stress of even the most vital game.
"Most of the 35,000 crowd had paid to enjoy Finney's skills but he was subjected to the tyranny of uncouth reprisals. Recognising his craft, Ipswich tried to wreck it. The plan recoiled with Finney's brilliance responsible for all four first half goals."
The fact that this was recorded in Paul Agnew's official biography of Finney suggests that this was an afternoon of shame for Ipswich.
Yet consider it from the Ipswich perspective.
It was long before the days of substitutes and for 15 minutes in the first-half Ipswich battled with nine men when Preston scored twice. Defenders Dai Rees and Basil Acres were off the field for treatment. Both returned, Rees as a passenger.
Otherwise it was Scott Duncan's most successful season at Portman Road. Town won the Division Three (South) title. His team, unchanged most of the campaign, was: Parry; Acres, Feeney, Myles, Rees, Parker, Reed, Crowe, Garneys, Elsworthy and McLuckie.
Many years later I was in the foyer at Portman Road when an elderly man, looking very ill, said: "You don't recognise me?"
It was Neil Myles whom I had met occasionally at the Ipswich Greyhound Stadium. I did not recognise him. He passed away a couple of days later.
Scott Duncan was superstitious.
A seven-leaf clover was mounted in the wall of his office during that promotion campaign. It was loaned to him by an American who served in the RAF and carried with him during the Second World War.
It was a reciprocal gesture for Mrs Scott Duncan giving American golfer Sam Snead a four-leaf clover before he won the Open Championship at St Andrew's in 1946.
Much the same set of players saw Ipswich relegated the following season when I watched their FA Cup third round tie against Bishop Auckland standing on the terracing in front of the Portman Road standing with Jonathan Aitken who then lived at Playford Hall.
Our lives took different paths. Politics was never my game.
The tie ended in a 3-3 draw against these "shamateurs" but Ipswich lost the replay in deep snow.
TONY has more tales of early Town days gone by, matches and former bosses, including Mick O'Brien, Jackie Milburn and Bill McGarry, in the latest edition of Kings of Anglia magazine. Also Teddy Bishop, Luciano Civelli, Portman Pete! And more.... For the ITFC fan in your household.