Ranking Ipswich Town's top seven defensive midfielders of the last 40 years
- Credit: Archant
In the latest in this series, football writer Carl Marston compiles his top seven Ipswich Town defensive midfielders of the last 40 years
Ipswich Town's abundance of riches, in the central midfield department over the last 40 years, can again be detected from this second category, headed by the dynamic John Wark.
Following on from the creative midfielders section, this latest top seven focuses on the more defensively minded, or those midfielders who often played in deeper roles.
Of course many of these were also worthy candidates of the creative half, and could so easily have graced that category rather than this.
As a reminder, my top seven creative midfielders, since the landmark 1980-81 season when the club won the UEFA Cup, finished second to Aston Villa in the top flight and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, comprised the following: Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren, Jason Dozzell, Matt Holland, Kieron Dyer, Mark Brennan and Paul Mason.
Now here's the next top seven, with those on the fringes and unlucky to miss out including Tommy Miller, Jermaine Wright, Trevor Putney, David Norris and Gavin Johnson, and those just outside the time frame including Brian Talbot, Colin Viljoen and Roger Osborne.
1 JOHN WARK
In truth, the versatile Wark could feature in some many of these categories, not least as an effective centre-half during his later years.
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It might seem strange for such a free-scoring midfielder to be included in this defensive bracket, with Wark finishing Town's top scorer twice in 1980-81 (a remarkable haul of 36 goals) and 1982-83 (23 goals). He also bagged 23 goals in 1981-82, behind Alan Brazil (28).
But he often operated in a deeper role, with Dutchmen Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen pulling the creative strings, and would arrive late in the box with his familiar runs to poach goals, as well as prove his worth as such a reliable penalty taker.
2 JIM MAGILTON
The influentual Magilton could also have fitted into either midfield category. Over the course of seven years, between 1999 and 2006, the Irishman pulled the strings in the centre of the park.
He did the simple things well, with short passing as well as opening up an opposing defence, chalking up 262 appearances and succeeding Matt Holland as captain.
A highlight was netting a hat-trick in the 5-3 win over Bolton in the play-off semi-final second leg of 2000, securing a 7-5 aggregate win and a path to promotion.
3 ROMEO ZONDERVAN
The Dutchman was a bundle of energy for Town, following his switch from West Brom in 1984. A bargain buy at £70,000, Zondervan was named Player of the Season in 1986-87 on his way to 274 league appearances, and a long stint as club captain.
He left after Town's successful promotion to the new Premier League as second tier champions in 1992, returning to his native Netherlands.
4 STEVE MCCALL
The archetype defensive midfielder, McCall was a model of consistency in this role from the late 1970s through the majority of the 1980s, as well as deputising at full-back when required.
The dependable McCall, quick to close down opponents and tenacious in the tackle, as well as rarely wasting a pass, went on to make more than 300 appearances for Ipswich and was an important cog in Town's UEFA Cup victory of 1981.
5 MICK STOCKWELL
The always-busy Stockwell was 'Mr Ipswich,' during the second half of the 1980s and throughout the 90s.
He could play in just about every position, including right-back and even as an emergency front-runner in his later career, always super-fit and with bags of stamina.
An engine across the midfield, Stockwell was another of the success stories of the Town youth team system, under Sir Bobby Robson, going on to total a remarkable 610 appearances for the club. He was Player of the Year in 1993.
6 GERAINT WILLIAMS
Williams arrived at Portman Road with a wealth of experience, both for Bristol Rovers and Derby County, when John Lyall's men secured promotion to the new Premier League in 1992.
A combative and defensively-minded central midfielder, Williams usually operated just in front of the back four, breaking up opposing attacks and being a platform for his own team's attacking forays. His influence was often under-stated.
A £650,000 buy from Derby, when aged 30, Williams went on to play 264 games for Town and earn 13 caps for Wales before his departure for Colchester United in 1998.
7 SIMON MILTON
So many different options for this No. 7 spot, but Milton got the very best out of himself, and fulfilled his potential during a decade in Town's midfield.
Plucked out of non-league, after starring for local clubs Thetford and Bury Town, Milton flourished under John Duncan and continued to get better and better over 330 appearances between 1987 and 1997. He was voted Player of the Year in 1996. A true bargain at just £5,000!