A pre-match pint, cricket with an apple and an 80mph shot – memories of Ted Phillips
- Credit: Archant
Former sports editor TONY GARNETT recalls some of his favourite Ted Phillips stories after the legendary Ipswich Town striker died aged 84....
A pre-match pint!
Ted was quite happy to have a pint of beer before a match. It never did him much harm. I once kept watch outside a pub in Lincoln as the players walked from the railway station to Sincil Bank to loosen up. I had to signal to Ted if Alf Ramsey or Jimmy Forsyth were around.
One of his pranks had me worried. Club captain Andy Nelson and Ted had talked me into sitting behind Alf in the cinema on a Friday night in Manchester. The plan was to slip out of the cinema when the lights dimmed and then use my car, an open-top Ford Special, to drive the outskirts of the city for a game of darts.
It was crucial to be back in the hotel before the film finished. Ted was sitting in the front on our return to the hotel. I stopped at traffic lights. They changed to green but my car had stalled.
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I could not restart the engine. I was getting into a state of panic. So, too, was Nelson. Other drivers were getting impatient. It was only then that Ted switched the ignition back on which was in front of the passenger’s seat.
We were back in the hotel in the nick of time. Alf, of course, had noticed our absence in the cinema. He looked Nelson straight in the eye and asked: “So you didn’t like the film then skipper?” He must have realised what had happened. No more was said.
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Like many top footballers in that era Ted was also a talented cricketer. He played for Colchester and East Essex as well as Suffolk in the Minor Counties.
He was a lethal fast bowler. Playing against Nottingham’s second team at the Boots Sports Ground he bowled the first ball of the second day with a rosy red apple which he had taken from the hotel kitchen. The batsman thought it was funny, the Suffolk fielders were amused but the umpires lacked a sense of humour and reported the incident to Lord’s. Suffolk captain Bob Cunnell had some explaining to do, but what chance had he of controlling Ted when the task even proved beyond Alf Ramsey?
End of career and injuries
After leaving Ipswich Ted had spells with Luton Town, Leyton Orient and Colchester United. He also managed Maltese club Floriana whom Ipswich had met in the European Cup. Even having the Floriana players blessed by the priest did not produce enough victories to save Ted’s job.
After his footballing days were over he needed two steel kneecaps and surgery to his shoulder. It was no wonder in view of the ferocity with which he struck the old leather football and the speed with which he bowled a cricket ball. Whenever he went through airport security, usually for golf trips abroad, the alarms would sound. He was a member at Southwold Golf Club.
What would a player of his charisma and ability be worth in today’s game? Like the stars of his generation he needed to find a job when his playing days were over. He laid cables for Pirelli and was often working in London. He would sometimes meet up with Alf Ramsey at Liverpool Street when they both were returning home, Ted to Colchester and Alf to Ipswich from the Football Association offices at Lancaster Gate.
Ted recalled the day when Alf ordered a double whisky on the train. This was unusual. Alf never mentioned that he had been sacked by the FA. Ted only found out when he heard the news on the radio when he returned home.
Shot measured at over 80 mph
Ted once had accepted a challenge from a national newspaper to see who had the hardest shot in football. Bobby Smith of Tottenham, Peter Lorimer of Leeds and Bobby Charlton of Manchester United were his rivals. It was Ted, with a shot at just over 80mph who won the day.
“People used to make a big thing about how hard I could kick the ball, but that is what I was there for,” said Ted, who holds the record for the most goals scored for the club in one season with 46 in the 1956-1957 season “I used to score a lot of goals and so did Ray, from rebounds, when the goalkeeper failed to hold my shots.
“I knocked three goalkeepers out and broke another one’s wrist with the ball.”
The communal bath in the Portman Road dressing room, in the old cricket pavilion, was a dangerous place when Ted was there. He was always ready to shove lump of carbolic soap into anyone who had their mouth open and was not keeping a wary eye on him. Jimmy Leadbetter would often return home with cutlery on his pockets. Ted had put it there.
There was an incident with Alf. The toilets were at Portman Road and Ted once went out there with a bucket of ice cold water and threw it over the unsuspecting victim who was in there at the time. That happened to be Alf. Everyone protested their innocence but Alf knew it was Ted.
- What are your memories of Ted Phillips? Let us know!