Kevin Beattie on his fear of flying, a donkey race with John Cobbold and Ipswich Town’s promotion chances under Mick McCarthy

Allan Hunter, Kevin Beattie and Robin Turner

Allan Hunter, Kevin Beattie and Robin Turner - Credit: Archant

Kevin Beattie, the man widely regarded as Ipswich Town’s greatest-ever player, celebrates his 60th birthday today. STUART WATSON went to speak to the Blues legend about his great memories, lack of regrets and thoughts on the modern game.

Kevin Beattie on his Town debut at Old Trafford aged 18...

“I remember it vividly. The boss used to take some of the younger players along to the games for the experience so I thought nothing of it when I was taken along to Manchester United. We stayed at a hotel in Altrincham and I went with the kit man the day before to help set up the changing room.

“When the team was read out the next day it didn’t even register that my name had been said. It took one of the lads to tell me. I guess the boss didn’t want me to feel nervous, but I never felt nervous anyway.

“After the game I was getting all the Manchester United players’ autographs at the bar; Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton. As Bobby was signing he said ‘you’ll be doing this for a long time’.”

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Being able to play in today’s game...

“They reckon the game’s got quicker but I don’t think so. I reckon I could play today.

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“There’s too much diving now though. Even the centre-halves are at it. Can you imagine Big Al (Allan Hunter) tripping over a blade of grass? No way. It really winds me up seeing these 6ft 2in, 6ft 3in centre-halves going down like snowflakes.”

On how he’d have to adapt...

“The lifestyle and training has certainly improved. I always had my fag at the end of the game, but Big Al used to light up at half-time. The Dutchmen (Arnold Muhren and Thijssen) hated it. On the way back we would be sat at the back of the coach smoking with the sunroof open and Mr John (chairman John Cobbold) was at the front chain smoking too.”

On former Blues chairman John Cobbold...

“We always used to have fun when Mr John, right, was around. At one end of season do he made me and Big Al race him on these three donkeys he had at Glemham Hall. We all came running over this hill and he ended up crashing into the band’s drum kit. The boss came round the corner and was about to go mad at me until he saw the chairman sprawled on the floor.”

On his fear of flying...

“I hated flying. The boss used to say to me ‘have a few drinks to relax’. Eric Gates was worse than me though, he used to go bananas at the slightest turbulence. I don’t have a passport these days. The furthest I go is the annual trip up to Carlisle to see my brothers and sisters.”

On his desire Ipswich to be back in the top-flight...

“I love the club and would love to see them back in that top division.

“The fans deserve it and I really think it could happen with Mick (McCarthy) and Terry (Connor).

“I see a lot of the boss and Cyril Lea in the pair of them.”

To read the full feature, click here.

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