Sir Alf Ramsey could bore you stiff about football – and that’s what made him great

Sports artist Paul Trevillion (left) designed the Sir Alf Ramsey plaque , Pat Godbold (second right)

Sports artist Paul Trevillion (left) designed the Sir Alf Ramsey plaque , Pat Godbold (second right) was Ramsey's secretary, Andy Nelson (second left) and Ray Crawford (right) played in Ramsey's title-winning side of '62. Picture: Steve Waller. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

If anyone deserves to be immortalised in the National Football Museum’s ‘walk of fame’ then it is Ipswich Town and England manager Sir Alf Ramsey.

The commemorative Sir Alf Ramsey plaque that marks the former Ipswich and England manager's place in

The commemorative Sir Alf Ramsey plaque that marks the former Ipswich and England manager's place in The National Football Museum's 'Walk of Fame'. Picture: Steve Waller. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The late, great Blues boss was one of 25 legends to have a Hollywood-style plaque installed in the floor outside the Manchester venue last October and, on Saturday, a replica was provided for Portman Road.

Andy Nelson, 82, and Ray Crawford, 80, two key men in Town’s top-flight title winning 1961/62 season, took part in the presentation.

“His record, both as a club and international manager, is unsurpassed,” said Nelson, Ramsey’s trusted skipper and centre-back.

“When you think he took this club from the third division, to the second division, to the first and won the First Division straight away, went to England and won the World Cup, then got the sack as a relatively young man and never got another job – how is that possible? It doesn’t make sense.

Pat Godbold, former manager's secretary at Ipswich Town, pictured with the commemorative Sir Alf Ram

Pat Godbold, former manager's secretary at Ipswich Town, pictured with the commemorative Sir Alf Ramsey plaque. Picture: Steve Waller. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller


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“We look back now and realise that many of the things he did – tactically and recruitment – were way ahead of his time. It’s what the Premier League clubs are doing now.

“He was a strange man in many respects. He didn’t have an up-to-date car, he had this derelict Mondeo or something, and he had no social conversation – it was just football, football, football. If you said ‘did you see that film on the television last night?’ then he was gone out the room. He couldn’t understand why we played cards on the train to games. As far as he was concerned we were supposed to be talking about football the whole time. He could bore you stiff talking about it, but that’s what made him great.”

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Nelson continued: “Where he was enormously successful was that he was able to bring in the right players at the right time. Roy Bailey was a strong character, Ray Crawford was, Ted Phillips was, I think I was.

“When we went up from the second division he brought in Dougie Moran and Billy Baxter – two Scottish lads who were only 5ft 8in, but tough as nails. The difference it made was massive. We never had any worries about going to Manchester or Arsenal because of the people we had in our dressing room.

“I don’t know how he found me because I was in the army when I signed. He obviously had somebody that was looking when we won the Army Cup – and that was before the days of all the scouting networks people have now.”

He added: “The press took an anti to him. In those days managers spoke to the local press on the phone, gave them the team and the rest of it, but Alf wasn’t like that. He didn’t associate with the press boys and they didn’t like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article where the press have said ‘we got him wrong’ actually.”

Crawford said: “Alf’s achievements in football must always be remembered.

“He was a real gentleman, there was never any bad language, you knew where you stood with him and you wanted to do well for him. He never asked you to do something you couldn’t do and he always picked the right teams.

“I love this plaque because you can see the warmth in his eyes. That was him.”

Paul Trevillion is the artist who has designed all the ‘walk of fame’ plaques, including modern day greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the one of Ramsey meant most to him.

The 83-year-old explained: “I got to know Alf quite well when he was a Tottenham player and I was working on the Lilywhite magazine in the 50s. He was known as ‘The General’ because he always demanded the ball.

“I drew him heading the ball once and word got to me that he wanted a chat. I thought ‘great, he must like it!’ When I saw him he said; ‘Never draw me heading it again. The higher the ball, the lower the standard of play’.

“Later in life he pulled me up on one of my Roy of the Rovers drawings. He said ‘you’ve drawn him leaning back too much, that shot would have gone over the bar’. He was a football man from the top of his head to the bottom of his toes.”

Trevillion added: “I still haven’t forgiven Ipswich for denying us (Tottenham) the title in ’62. We had a team full of superstars – Danny Blanchflower, Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones – but we lost twice to this team that had just got promoted. I was so upset when I left Portman Road that year – this is first time I’ve been able to come back!

“Forget what Leicester did last season, Ipswich Town is still English football’s biggest ever fairytale.”

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