When The Cat’s Away…..

The Aura Of McGarry – A New Insight

Bill McGarry in celebratory mood with his promoted Ipswich players in 1968.

Wolves players from the 1970s aren’t the only ones with tales to tell about Bill McGarry’s disciplinarian ways.

And one or two of them are likely to feel like raising a glass to the escapades that members of the Ipswich camp reportedly indulged in before the hard-man boss swapped East Anglia for West Midlands.

A book written by two well-known Suffolk football reporters lifts the lid on some laddish mid-1960s behaviour in a squad McGarry probably thought he had on a tight leash.

Neal Manning reveals in the 2012 paperback, Ipswich Town Uncovered, that one player emerged from a nightclub and was picked up by the police lying face down in the gutter at 5am on the day on which he nevertheless proceeded to play superbly in an FA Cup fifth-round draw at Manchester City in 1966-67.

McGarry had already made his mark by using his first Portman Road season, 1964-65, to oversee a major improvement that resulted in only four defeats in the 31 League matches he was in charge of in that Second Division campaign.

He would have been furious, though, had he learned of the possible reason for the defeat at Carlisle in Ipswich’s 1967-68 promotion season.

He missed the long trek north as he was away signing Peter Morris and John O’Rourke and Manning tells how the players informed the manager’s assistant, Sammy Chung, who was in charge of the trip, that they were going to the pictures on their Friday-night stopover.

“Sammy was a nice guy and the players knew it,” he wrote. “He was totally unaware they had something very different in mind.

“Straight after dinner, we all headed to a pub and stayed there until closing time. One thing’s for sure…..a trip to a Darlington boozer wouldn’t have been on the agenda had Bill been there.”

A revealing tome.

Manning’s co-author Dave Allard was once an associate schoolboy at Portman Road and had had even more of an inside track when detailing his collection of stories from over the decades.

“Bill was so angry after one bad home display that he kicked a dressing-room door-stop in anger,” he said. “On the Monday, he turned up with a heavy plaster cast on. No-one dared laugh.

“Most people at the club were in fear of him – I saw it at first hand for a while.”


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