Town can do it - Lyall

FORMER Ipswich Town manager John Lyall has told Blues fans: “Stand by for promotion.”Lyall, who led Town into the Premiership for the 1992/93 season, has been out of the spotlight since his departure from Portman Road a decade ago.

FORMER Ipswich Town manager John Lyall has told Blues fans: “Stand by for promotion.”

Lyall, who led Town into the Premiership for the 1992/93 season, has been out of the spotlight since his departure from Portman Road a decade ago.

Lyall has broken his silence to back current Town boss Joe Royle to mastermind the club back into the Premiership.

“Joe has great experience and a huge knowledge of the game,” said Lyall. “He is an excellent manager and he can get Ipswich promoted.”


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Lyall, 64, left Ipswich 10 years ago this month and is enjoying his retirement with his family just outside Ipswich.

But he is backing the promotion bid being staged by Royle and his players who are currently second in the Coca-Cola Championship with a home match to come against leaders Wigan Athletic tomorrow.

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“The season when Ipswich won the old Second Division title in 1991/92 to join the Premiership in its inaugural season ranks as one of the happiest in my footballing career,” said Lyall.

“And there are similarities between that campaign and this one. My players were a genuine bunch and were all so willing to listen and learn.

“Players like John Wark and Micky Stockwell could never gain enough knowledge about the game, and it was a real pleasure working with them.

“The players deserved their success and it was a great time in my life.

“Joe is a damn nice person and he has a great record, lifting both Oldham and Manchester City into the top flight of English football. Ipswich could not be in better hands.”

Lyall's dealings with Royle centre around the purchase of striker Ian Marshall from Oldham to Ipswich.

“It took a while to go through but Joe was as straight as a die,” recalled Lyall. “And I once tried to sign Joe for West Ham, but when I made contact he had just agreed a move - to Norwich I believe.”

Lyall has a small lake in his garden and spends a lot of time fishing. Along with wife Yvonne he is settled in Suffolk, and his son Murray lives in the same village.

Two of his three grandchildren - Sam and Scott - are regulars at Portman Road along with their dad, but Lyall confines his football watching to the television these days.

He can remember current Town midfielder Kevin Horlock being at Upton Park as a 15-year-old, but new Ipswich signing Darren Currie was not with the Hammers by the time Lyall left in June 1989 having been manager for 15 years and winning two FA Cup finals.

“I can remember Kevin having an educated left foot and I was certain that he would make a good living out of the game,” added Lyall, who took over from John Duncan as Ipswich manager in May 1990.

After one season in the Second Division he led the Blues to the championship in May 1992, but resigned on December 5, 1994 after a 2-1 home defeat by Manchester City left Ipswich bottom of the Premiership.

George Burley was appointed new Town manager over Christmas 1994, but Ipswich were relegated that season and spent life in the old First Division before winning the play-off final against Barnsley at Wembley Stadium in May 2000.

Lyall will be paying special attention to the game at Portman Road on New Year's Day when Ipswich entertain West Ham.

“If I could have a football Christmas wish it would be for both Ipswich and West Ham to be promoted at the end of the season,” said Lyall.

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