Ipswich Town legend Ted Phillips dies
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town legend Ted Phillips, the player reputed to have the hardest shot in football in his prime, has died at the age of 84. Here, former sports editor TONY GARNETT pays tribute.
He formed a lethal strike partnership with Ray Crawford which was crucial to Ipswich Town’s spectacular climb up the Football League ladder, winning the Second Division Championship in 1960-61, and the First Division Championship at the first time of asking the following season.
Manager Sir Alf Ramsey got the very best out of Phillips whose ability to shoot with immense power with either foot from 30 yards put fear into the top goalkeepers of the day.
Sometimes the ball would scream into the net. Often ace predator Crawford would score from a rebound from a Phillips thunderbolt. There were times, too, when spectators standing half way back in the Churchmans or North Stand would be ducking for cover.
Ted was a Suffolk boy born in the hamlet of Gromford near Snape. He started his football career at nearby Leiston before doing his National Service. He was recommended to Ipswich manager Scott Duncan by Leiston Town boss Ian Gillespie.
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For a while he would not sign because he could earn better money as a gardener at Tunstall. Then he accepted on the agreement that his travelling costs would be paid and he would receive £8 a week.
Phillips made his debut for Ipswich at Watford in March 1954 but it was not until 1955-56 season that Ted started to show his true potential when Ramsey was in his second season in charge. Injuries frustrated Ted who spent 1955-56 season with Stowmarket in the Eastern Counties League. Ipswich, though, retained his registration.
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It was not until 1956-57 season that Ipswich realised that they had a prize asset.
Ipswich lost their first three matches in Division Three (South) without Phillips in the team. He was selected in place of team captain Tommy Parker for the home match with Bournemouth at the end of August and soon became an automatic choice.
That season he scored 41 League goals and five FA Cup goals as Ipswich won the title on goal average from Torquay United. Colchester United were one point behind. It was the season that Ramsey started to build his Championship winning team with Roy Bailey, Jimmy Leadbetter and John Elsworthy already installed.
Crawford arrived from Portsmouth in September 1958 but Ted’s partnership with Crawford really began to develop in 1960-61 when Ipswich won the Second Division title by a point from Sheffield United. Crawford scored 40 League goals and Phillips scored 30.
In the Championship-winning season Crawford scored 33 in the League and Phillips 28. Ted’s were the spectacular ones.
Alf Ramsey’s tactical talks went way above Ted’s head. It is doubtful if he listened to them at all. Alf was not worried. He just wanted Ted to strike the ball at goal and Ray to pick up the pieces. The service was usually provided by Jimmy Leadbetter, John Elsworthy or Roy Stephenson.
It was a pity that Ted never won an England cap. He attended one international training session, hurt his ankle, and Jimmy Greaves was picked for the match. It would have been interesting to see Crawford (capped twice) and Phillips up front alongside each other.
Ted’s practical jokes have become part of Ipswich Town folk lore. Sometimes Alf’s training would not involve a football, but Ted usually had one hidden away as often as not in the coke pile used for heating the water in the dressing rooms.
Once he filled the medical bag, taken on an away trip by trainer Jimmy Forsyth, with stones. He emptied a coach of a busy tube train in London by shouting “all change”.
He won a bet with Ipswich chairman John Cobbold when he ran out at Portman Road for a Boxing Day match wearing a ginger wig. Many supporters thought there had been a new signing.