Hammers pay tribute to Town hero John

JOHN Lyall, the man who booked Ipswich Town their place in the first season of the Premiership, will be honoured at Upton Park tomorrow in a special ceremony.

Stuart Watson

JOHN Lyall, the man who booked Ipswich Town their place in the first season of the Premiership, will be honoured at Upton Park tomorrow in a special ceremony.

Lyall, who died in his Suffolk home in 2006 at the age of 66, is regarded as one of West Ham United's greatest managers, having twice won the FA Cup with the club (1975 and 1980), as well as leading them to their highest league finish of third place in 1986.

Lyall is best remembered in Ipswich for ensuring the Suffolk club were part of the newly-formed Premiership in 1993, having won the old Second Division in his first season in charge of Town. And tomorrow current boss Jim Magilton is hoping to attend the ceremony.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks said: “John was a tremendous servant to Ipswich Town Football Club and it was a fantastic achievement by him to steer this Club to promotion to the Premier League.

“He will always be remembered fondly by Ipswich Town fans for that, but he was also a great servant to the game of football in general.”

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Many family and friends from Suffolk are also travelling down to London tomorrow and after the unveiling of the plaque, will be at a special lunch.

Essex-born Lyall went on to manage Ipswich for two seasons in the top flight before resigning from his position, and ultimately football, in 1994.

Lyall joins legends Bobby Moore and Ron Greenwood, the latter his coaching mentor, by having his own blue plaque tribute outside Upton Park. And Hammers greats, including Sir Trevor Brooking, Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, will be also be paying tribute.

Speaking at the time of Lyall's death, Brooking said: “Like Ron Greenwood before him, he encouraged good, open attacking football.

“He was a man of great integrity and loyalty and anyone who knew him would have nothing but good things to say about him.”

Lyall originally joined West Ham as a groundstaff boy in 1955 before graduating through the ranks to play as a left-back, making his debut against Chelsea in 1960.

However, knee problems forced him to end his playing career at the age of 24 and this heralded Lyall's first steps into coaching.