Ranking Ipswich Town’s top five left-backs of the last 40 years
- Credit: Archant
In the second of this series, following on from his top five keepers and top five right-backs, football writer Carl Marston compiles his top five Ipswich Town left-backs of the last 40 years
I would suggest that quality Ipswich Town left-backs have had the edge over their right-back counterparts, over the last 40 years.
Certainly, it was a lot harder to whittle this list down to a top five, perhaps because left-backs tend to be a more specialist position with less scope for the versatile, stop-gap, more natural centre-half contingent to thrive.
Top of the tree was easy. Mick Mills, who was second only to team-mate George Burley in my right-back rankings, is head-and-shoulders above the rest.
But here’s the full run-down:
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1 MICK MILLS
Although most of his Town career took place pre-1980, Mills is still the stand-out left-back of this period.
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A club record 741 appearances, spanning from his debut as a 17-year-old in a 5-2 win over Wolves in 1966, right through to 1982 and a switch to Southampton, Mills was a mainstay of Town’s success under Sir Bobby Robson.
At the start of this 40-year period, Mills lifted the UEFA Cup as Town skipper at the end of the 1980-81 season, while also helping his side to top-flight (First Division) runners-up positions to Aston Villa (1980-81) and Liverpool (1981-82) at the start of the decade.
Not many wingers got the better of a stubborn Mick Mills!
2 MAURICIO TARICCO
A big favourite with the fans, and for good reason.
This Argentine full-back, who could operate on the right as well as the left, was full of charm, flair and emotion.
He scored some terrific goals, was tenacious in the tackle and accurate with his passing, rattling up 172 senior appearances for his beloved Town between 1994 and ‘98, having arrived following a full season at Argentinos Juniors in his home city of Buenos Aires.
Taricco was the big success story of the double swoop which saw Town boss John Lyall set his sights on South America to bring over Taricco and also striker Adrian Paz (from Uruguay).
Billed as the main signing, Paz never really settled. By contrast, Taricco positively flourished.
He hardly missed a game during the 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 campaigns, being voted Town’s Player of the Year (1996-97) and named in the PFA Team of the Year (1997-98).
Tariccoe endeared himself to Town fans even more by scoring a goal against the arch enemy, in a 2-0 win over Norwich City (April, 1997), and leaving the pitch in a flood of tears after losing in the play-off semi-final to Sheffield United the following month.
He ended up moving to Tottenham for a £1.775 million fee, a snip when considered that he went on to play 156 games for the North London club.
A very different sort of left-back to his predecessor Mills, but a terrific player all the same.
3 JAMIE CLAPHAM
The regular left-back during Town’s two seasons in the Premier League, between 2000 and 2002, Clapham was a class act.
Signed from Tottenham for a £300,000 fee in the spring of 1998, after a successful loan spell, Clapham was a reliable presence on the left side of defence. He also weighed in with some superb goals, usually via his left boot from long-range free-kicks.
Clapham always went quietly about his business and was deservedly named Town’s Player of the Year for 1998-99.
He also graced the European stage, featuring in 12 UEFA Cup ties for Town before the club’s relegation from the top flight and subsequent nosedive into administration, which necessitated his move away to Birmingham City for a cool £1.3 million at the start of 2003.
A worthy successor to Taricco.
4 AARON CRESSWELL
One of the very few players of the last decade to make any of these Top Five lists, Cresswell was a quality left-back for Town over three seasons, from 2011 to 2014.
Having made a big impact at his first club, Tranmere Rovers, Cresswell moved up to the Championship with Town, easily settling into his new surroundings and the higher level of football.
He played an impressive 132 league games over the course of three years, and was linked with a possible move to Premier League Aston Villa during this time.
Although liable to make the odd mistake, Cresswell has gone from strength to strength in recent years, justifying his £3.75 million move to top-flight West Ham, for whom he has played more than 200 Premier League games, in addition to earning three England caps. His stay at Portman Road proved good business as well, because he cost just £200,000 from Tranmere.
5 NEIL THOMPSON
Armed with a ferocious shot, Thompson blasted in 19 goals in 206 league games for Town, between 1989 and ‘96. A formidable opponent, and well worth the £100,000 paid for him from Scarborough.
He scored a memorable long-range goal in stoppage time at Southend United to clinch a 2-1 win and pave the way for Town’s promotion to the new Premier League in 1992.
JUST MISSING OUT
A competitive top five sees the likes of Chris Makin, Irvin Gernon, Matt Richards, Graham Harbey, Gavin Johnson and Tyrone Mings all just miss out.