Heaven and Hell - best and worst keepers

PUBLISHED: 17:30 20 August 2007 | UPDATED: 10:59 04 March 2010

THIS week's wry look at the best and worst of Ipswich Town focuses on goalkeepers - from the heroic to the awful.



1 Paul Cooper

Picked up for next to nothing from Birmingham City (they'd just signed Gary Sprake, so you can see why they let Coops go…) “Super Cooper'' established himself as a Town legend in 575 games over 14 years.

THIS week's wry look at the best and worst of Ipswich Town focuses on goalkeepers - from the heroic to the awful.

1 Paul Cooper

Picked up for next to nothing from Birmingham City (they'd just signed Gary Sprake, so you can see why they let Coops go…) “Super Cooper'' established himself as a Town legend in 575 games over 14 years.

Only Mills, Wark and Stockwell have played more games for the club. Cooper appeared in both the FA Cup and UEFA Cup winning teams. Unlucky not to be capped for England, but his was the era when England had decent keepers - remember Shilton and Clemence? His claim to fame was a phenomenal penalty-saving record - 19 stopped from a total of 49. Liverpool fans will probably remind us that Frans Thijssen helped once, by flinging mud at the ball as Terry McDermott ran up. Sour grapes…

2 Richard Wright

Local boy made good - then bad. Ipswich-born Wright was only 17 when making his debut at the end of the disastrous 1994-1995 season. Quickly established himself as first choice keeper and helped Town reach the Premiership in an eventful play-off final in 2000. Wright scored an own goal, then conceded a penalty - which he saved. Starred in Town's sensational first season back in the top-flight, and seemed to be the natural successor to old ponytail himself, David Seaman. But it all went wrong when he left for Arsenal. Has spent the last six seasons warming the bench for the Gunners, then Everton, and now West Ham.

3 Roy Bailey

One of Alf Ramsey's shrewdest signings, Bailey won Third Division, Second Division, and First Division championships in the space of a few years. After leaving Town took up media work and became South Africa's version of Jimmy Hill. What an accolade. His son, Gary, was the blond custodian of the rigging for Man Utd for some years, once memorably conceding six goals at Portman Road.

4 Laurie Sivell

A midget in goalkeeping terms, Lowestoft-born Sivell made up for his lack of inches with near-suicidal bravery. His most memorable - and painful - act of courage was diving at the feet of Aston Villa's Andy Gray to prevent a last-minute winner. Sivell ended up with 11 stitches, lost several teeth, and suffered an horrendous black eye. Whatever happened to Andy Gray?

5 David Best

Signed by Bill McGarry to replace Ken Hancock, Best was a solid, if unspectacular, performer in the Ipswich Town side of the late 1960s which fought an annual battle to preserve its top-flight status. Most famous for being the goalkeeper who “conceded'' Alan Hudson's “goal that never was'' at Stamford Bridge. Thanks, Mr Capey…

6 Ken Hancock

Reliable keeper who was part of McGarry's 1968 team which won the Second Division championship. During that season, Hancock kept 12 clean sheets, a phenomenon which only older Town fans remember.

7 Craig Forrest

Canadian Forrest essentially bridged the gap between Paul Cooper and Richard Wright. Ever-present in Town's 1991-1992 Second Division Championship-winning side. Famous for two other, less positive episodes. He became the first Town goalkeeper to be sent off, and was also between the sticks in the club's record defeat, the never-to-be-forgotten 9-0 at Old Trafford.

8 Kelvin Davis

Two seasons at Portman Road saw Davis pull off some sensational shot-stopping. Both campaigns ended in play-off disappointment, and Davis left to join Sunderland. Now back in the Championship with George Burley's Southampton.

9 Mick Burns

Makes the top 10 purely on the grounds of longevity.

Burns was on Town's books from 1938 until 1952, during which time he played 168 games, the last in January 1952, at the grand old age of 43 years 219 days. Town drew 2-2 at Gateshead, but there's no record of whether Burns needed one of the whipper-snapper defenders to bend down to pick the ball out of the net!

10 Fred Barber

A controversial choice, perhaps, as he only played one game for Town. But it was a creditable 2-2 draw at Wolves and he did run out to play wearing a comedy mask.

1 Paul Overton

One game - and no wonder. Paul Overton's only appearance for Ipswich Town came in a 6-1 defeat at Aston Villa, a week before the 1978 FA Cup final. Not entirely fair to blame young Overton. Bobby Robson had controversially restored Colin Viljoen to the starting line-up, at the expense of Roger Osborne. The rest of the team were not best pleased, and “player power'' flexed its muscles in a simply awful display. That was that for Overton, he never played again. Does anyone need telling the remainder of the Osborne story?

2 James Pullen

Likeable local lad Pullen played his first and last league game for Town against Grimsby at Portman Road. He let a half-hit shot squirm under him in front of the North Stand, and it trickled into the net for the game's only goal. He never had a chance after that.

3 Matteo Sereni

Burley paid a club record £4.5 million for the Italian keeper in his ill-advised summer spending spree of 2002. Sereni was sent off in one of his early appearances at Leicester, and was first-choice during Town's disastrous losing run in the autumn and winter of 1994. Didn't fancy playing in the mud at Dagenham & Redbridge, and lost his place to Andy Marshall. So, a peacock replaced by a Canary. Disappeared back to Italy, with Town fans not shedding a single tear.

4 Jim Thorburn

What is it they say about Scottish keepers? Made his debut in the disastrous relegation season of 1963-64, playing in a 9-1 thumping by Stoke, a 6-0 drubbing at Liverpool, and a 6-3 trouncing at Spurs. Conceded an impressive 36 goals in 10 games that season. Any relation to Stewart Kennedy or Alan Rough, do you think?

5 Andy Marshall

It was never going to work, was it? Burley's signing of Marshall from our Friends in the North was simply bonkers. It didn't help that he was injured before he played a game, was replaced by Sereni, and then when he did get in the team we were relegated. And why couldn't he kick?

6 Wilf Hall

Understudy to Roy Bailey in the First Division Championship-winning side. But when our Wilf played, it all seemed to go belly up. His five appearances that season saw three defeats. The following season was even worse - seven games, no wins. His last game saw Town thumped 6-1 by West Brom.

7 Ron Fearon

Actually, not that bad a keeper, but he gets into the top 10 on the basis of his stupid, 1980s-style haircut. OK, it was the 1980s back then, but who says these things are fair?

8 Alec Bugg

Needham Market boy who made four appearances as deputy to David Best in 1968-1969. Managed to ship 10 goals in those four games, including a howler which handed the hated Leeds United a 3-2 win at Portman Road. Unforgivable.

9 Dave Bevis

Understudy to Ken Hancock in the 1960s, Bevis was never on the winning side in any of his six Town appearances. Deservedly shunted off to play for Cambridge City.

10 Tom Carson

Probably grossly unfair to include Tom here. After all, like Mr Barber, he only played one game for Ipswich. But he failed to distinguish himself against Leicester, who duly cantered to a 2-0 victory, and was never heard of again.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Green Un

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists