John Lyall's legacy lives on at Whitton

JOHN Lyall's legacy lives on. Not just at West Ham and Ipswich Town where he is remembered as a highly accomplished and successful manager, but at Whitton United as well.

Elvin King

JOHN Lyall's legacy lives on. Not just at West Ham and Ipswich Town where he is remembered as a highly accomplished and successful manager, but at Whitton United as well.

Manager Gary Thompson and his assistant Neil Gregory have led Whitton into fourth place in the First Division of the Ridgeons League - and are poised for a promotion push, unbeaten since losing to Leiston St Margaret's in the Suffolk Senior Cup on January 5.

Both were young professionals at Portman Road when Lyall was in charge. Thompson said today: “John has had a huge influence on both Neil and myself.


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“It was the way he handled his players - he got the best out of everybody without shouting and screaming. His man management skills were spot on, and he also had definite coaching ideas.

“After Ipswich won a place in the Premiership under John in 1992, training methods completely changed. He knew that the methods he used so successfully in the old Division Two would have to change for the demands of the Premiership.”

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Whitton, who will soon move to a new purpose-built stadium, have moved up the table in recent weeks. “We have got our fingers out at last,” said Thompson. “Because of suspensions, injuries and unavailability, we had a blip around Christmas time.

“Even when we were down to ninth, we were still within touching distance of the promotion race, but it is very tight and every point is important.”

The Thompson and Gregory partnership is working well, with the former adding: “Effectively we are joint managers. Neil does the team talks and I tend to do the one-on-ones.”

There are two other Ipswich Town connections, with former youth players Simon Betts and Kevin Inglis in the first team and earning praise from Thompson. He added: “Striker Chris Williams also deserves a mention, as he does the work to create chances for our other front men.”

Steve Jay's Hadleigh United are on the same number of points as Whitton, and they are playing this evening (kick-off 8pm) in a match that should draw a large crowd to Millfield. Mel Aldis' Debenham Leisure Centre are also very much in the promotion hunt and they will give Hadleigh a severe test.

Stowmarket Town will be looking to put daylight between themselves and Godmanchester at Greens Meadow tomorrow.

In the Premier Division, Steve Buckle's Ipswich Wanderers can do Needham Market a big favour by taking points off leaders Soham.

FA Vase semi-finalists Needham are at home to Kirkley, with Wroxham - the other team in with a chance of the title - entertaining Leiston. Woodbridge Town travel to Norwich United, and a win would see Glenn Read's side overtake their Norfolk opponents.

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