Heaven and Hell - the signings

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 August 2007 | UPDATED: 13:49 04 March 2010

Welcome to our new, weekly series, looking at the best, and worst of Ipswich Town. This week, signings from heaven - and hell!



Best signings.



1. Mick Mills.

Welcome to our new, weekly series, looking at the best, and worst of Ipswich Town. This week, signings from heaven - and hell!

Best signings.

1. Mick Mills.

The ultimate “steal,'' Mills was snapped up when Portsmouth scrapped their youth scheme. Went on to make a record 741 appearances, lifted the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, won 42 England caps, captained his country in the 1982 World Cup. Free transfers don't get much better. Just that dodgy moustache to worry about then…

2. Bill Baxter.

Mills' predecessor as club captain. Signed from Broxburn Athletic, Baxter was pivotal in Town's extraordinary 1961-62 First Division Championship-winning side. Was club captain when Ipswich regained top-flight status in 1968. Never saw eye to eye with the young Bobby Robson, and was on his way after being quoted in a Sunday paper as saying the club “was going to the dogs.''

3. Arnold Muhren.

Arnold Johannes Hyacinthus Muhren, to give him his full name. Signed from Twente Enschede for £165,000, Muhren stood and watched the ball repeatedly fly over his head on his Town debut. That soon changed. The best midfielder in the land in the early 1980s, Muhren was still good enough at nearly 37 to supply the pinpoint cross from which Marco Van Basten scored his wonder volley to win Holland the European Championships in 1988.

4. Frans Thijssen.

Another dodgy moustache, but what a player. Thijssen ran Town's midfield with Muhren. Scored in both legs of the 1981 UEFA Cup Final. Voted Football Writers' Player of the Year in 1981, only the second overseas winner after Bert Trautmann.

5. Jimmy McLuckie.

One for the more mature fan! Town's first big-name signing, McLuckie joined from Aston Villa to become the first professional captain at Portman Road. He helped steer the Blues into the Football League. On the debit side, was the first player to be sent off in the club's professional history.

6. Paul Mariner.

Town won a three-way tug-of-war with West Ham and West Brom to secure Mariner's services for Town in October 1976. An instant hit, he played through the glory years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the FA Cup and UEFA Cup triumphs. Also won 35 England caps. Still hasn't had a proper haircut…

7. Allan Hunter.

Bought from Blackburn Rovers to shore up Town's dodgy defence in 1971 (Hammond, Bell, Jefferson - need we say more?) Hunter became the best centre-half in Britain in the early to mid 1970s. One theory is that the beloved “Chicken Run'' was replaced by the rather higher Cobbold Stand to stop Hunter losing so many balls with his no-nonsense clearances!

8. Ray Crawford.

Another “steal'' from Portsmouth, Crawford scored 218 goals in two spells at Portman Road. Formed a fearsome striking partnership with local boy Ted Phillips. A travesty that he won only two England caps. Later scored twice in Colchester's legendary FA Cup win over then mighty Leeds.

9. Paul Cooper.

Signed from Birmingham in 1974 for the princely sum of £23,000, Cooper was between the sticks for all of Town's glory years under Bobby Robson. Never the tallest, he nevertheless established a reputation as a specialist spot-kick stopper. The only uncapped member of the 1981 team - but he did have Shilton and Clemence to contend with.

10. David Johnson (the second).

Town paid Bury £800,000 for Johnson, and he repaid with interest. Leading scorer for the next three season, his goals saw Town scramble back into the Premiership. Unlucky not to score in Town's first season back in the top-flight, he faded away when Marcus Stewart started his goalscoring heroics.

Worst signings.

1. Finidi George.

George Burley paid £3.1 million (say it quickly) for George during his ill-advised summer spending spree in 2001. The Nigerian winger made a sensational home debut, scoring twice against Derby. What we all forgot was that his marker was sent off after about three seconds. Scored a sensational goal against Sunderland later in the season. Err, and that was about that. Hung around for a few more seasons, earning fantastic money. Was he really 92?

2. Lee Chapman.

Burley bought Chapman and Alex Mathie in a desperate bid to keep Town in the Premiership in the dark days of 1995. By then Chapman was 35, and looking every day of it. Scored his only Town goal against Southampton when Bruce Grobbelaar missed a cross. Simply awful.

3. Ulrich Le Pen.

The diminutive French winger cost £1.4 million. That would be about £100,000 for every minute he played, then. Broke his foot a nano-second after coming on for his debut during the dreadful 2001-2002 season. And that was basically it. His nickname was Lulu. The diminutive Scottish songstress of the same name would have done better.

4. Gary Croft.

Sensational debut with the winning goal on his debut against Manchester City. Immediately afterwards, an unfortunate misunderstanding over some driving offences led to a spell at Her Majesty's pleasure. Only notable achievement after that was becoming the first professional footballer to play while “tagged.''

5. Drissa Diallo.

Lanky defender signed from Burnley in 2003. Seriously injured in a ludicrous collision with clumsy team-mate George Santos. Only contributions after that were his comedy throw-ins, more reminiscent of an eight-year-old trying to pick up the basics of football. Torn apart by Matthew Etherington in the first leg of the Play-off semi-final in 2005. That was that.

6. Amir Karic.

The weirdest of all weird signings. Signed as an experienced international defender, he played 19 times for Slovenia during his time at Portman Road - and yet never appeared for Ipswich in a league match. His tally consisted of three appearances from the bench in League Cup games. Blotted his copybook by publicly blasting Burley in this newspaper. His major role seemed to be to make up the international contingent so Town could take international weekends off.

7. Adrian Paz.

Signed along with Mauricio Taricco amid a blaze of publicity, the Uruguayan international came to Portman Road as a right-sided attacker - and was played as a traditional target man. One goal against Liverpool was his sole contribution as Town sank to relegation. The supposed makeweight Taricco was a far better purchase.

8. Steve Stacey.

Town paid Bristol City the decent sum of £25,000 for the highly-rated defender in 1968. Made his debut in a defeat at Anfield, played just twice more, including in another defeat by Liverpool, and then disappeared.

9. Sergei Baltacha.

Another strange one, and another supposedly top international played out of position. Baltacha won dozens of caps as sweeper for the strong USSR side in the 1980s. So, John Duncan bought him and, after a goalscoring debut on the right-side of midfield, the Russian was plonked as a traditional centre-half in the middle of a back four. Horribly uncomfortable, he moved to Scottish football. Daughter plays tennis, apparently.

10. Manuel Thetis.

Giant French defender who made George Santos look like goody-goody Matt Holland. Thetis was forever in trouble with referees, gaining a rash of yellow and red cards. Given the runaround by the speedy Iwan Roberts in his last game - a humiliating home defeat to our neighbours from Norfolk. Never forgiven.

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