'Great legends of the club should never be dismissed' – Lambert on meeting with Burley, Butcher and Wark
PUBLISHED: 15:42 08 November 2018
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says his door will always be open to the club’s legends.
The new Blues boss invited George Burley, Terry Butcher and John Wark to watch training at Playford Road on Wednesday and then subsequently picked their brains over lunch.
Lambert may be a former Norwich City manager but he spoke in enthused terms about Town’s rich history at today’s press conference.
“I asked them in to see if they could still play the game – I tried to sign Warky but I couldn’t get him!” joked the Scot.
“I think what iconic players they were for this club and sometimes those type of players can get lost and made not to feel too welcome.
“I thought ‘we have to bring the guys back’ because they were a huge part of this club.
“Not many teams win a European trophy. We’ve seen how hard it is to win it in the modern day game. They did it, which is an incredible achievement. The FA Cup too.
“It was great to see them. I knew Terry from a little bit of TV stuff I’d done with him, George I knew from the LMA (League Managers’ Association) and having come up against him as a manager and I just really wanted to meet John Wark because I wanted to know what his lines were in Escape to Victory! I thought that film was brilliant. My God what a player he was.
“I thought it was important for them to know that the door is always open for those type of players.
“There are so many iconic players at this club. You could go through them all; Russell Osman, Mick Mills, the Dutch lads of Muhren and Thijssen, Brazil, Cooper…
“They should all be embraced by the club.”
He continued: “We spoke about everything. I grew up in an era watching them guys. I knew the teams that Ipswich had in that era because they were well known, famous teams.
“We didn’t just totally focus on Ipswich, I talked about the Scotland team with George, Terry’s time at England, the Maradona goal and things like that.
“There was loads of good banter and good conversation. Obviously there was some serious stuff about what it’s been like here and what’s been happening and whether they’d enjoyed the games.
“They are good guys. As I say, I did try and slip in ‘can you still play?’ Sadly the answer was no!”
Asked if it was important for a manager to understand the culture and history of a club, Lambert said: “I think you’ve got to grasp that pretty quickly. I knew the success Ipswich had under Sir Bobby Rosbon, I knew that era and the type of side they had.
“Those players should be iconic because it was an incredible time for the club.
“All of a sudden those iconic players can get lost a bit though and maybe don’t feel as welcome as what maybe football should make them feel.
“When I go back to my Celtic days there was the great ‘Lisbon Lions’ team. What top, top guys. The first team to ever win the European Cup and they all came within an 11 mile radius. It will never be done again.
“Quite rightly they all came in to the club regularly. You still saw people like Bertie Auld and John Clark and Billy McNeill… Great legends of the club should never be dismissed because they put the club where it is.
“But you can’t keep going back to it because the current team is not there in that moment.
“You can’t keep harping back to those days because those days are gone. You can’t compare now to the 70s and 80s because there is no comparison. Not a chance.
“You respect what’s happened here because that never leaves a football club, but we have to start somewhere in terms of making our own little bit of history.
“We’re not in that moment, the days of Butchers, Warks, Burleys. We’re nowhere near that level. Everybody knows we’re in a position where we need to fight to get out of it.
“It’s about making everybody feel part of that fight; whether it’s supporters or ex-players. We need everybody behind this team we’ve got at the minute.”
On Wark, he added: “I knew John Wark scored a hell of a lot of goals, I mean an incredible amount of goals.
“Ipswich had George (Burley), Alan Brazil and John Wark as Scottish internationals, then John went to Liverpool and played with Kenny (Dalglish), Graham Souness and Alan Hansen. Being Scottish you looked out for the Scottish players.
“You’d love to know what John Wark cost in the current transfer market. He scored, what was it, 36 goals in a season? And he was meant to be a ‘sitter’. It’s incredible the amount of goals he scored.
“I’m not being funny when I said what I said about Escape to Victory, I genuinely wanted to know he said. He only had two lines and they dubbed the Glaswegian accent. I thought it was absolutely brilliant!”