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Beattie: A Great Guy and a Great Coach
Wednesday, 28th Mar 2018 16:21

Blues legend Kevin Beattie has paid tribute to former Blues manager and coach Bobby Ferguson, who has died aged 80.

“He was tough, but he was a great coach,” Beattie told TWTD when asked for his memories of Ferguson, pictured above with Bobby Robson and Charlie Woods.

“He was knowledgeable about the game, and he’d tell you if you’d done something wrong straight to your face, and that’s what I loved about Bob.

“He’d give you stick. You’d got the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' [on the coaching staff] and that worked brilliantly, it really did, and that’s why we had so much success in those days.

“He was so straight and obviously he was a decent player himself, he played for Newcastle and Derby.

“He was a huge hit with all the players, I think it was Laurie Sivell who nicknamed him ‘The Duke’ because of the way he walked. But you daren’t call him that to his face obviously, otherwise you’d definitely get a clip round lugs! He was great guy and a great coach. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Beattie recalled putting a smile on Ferguson’s face in his early years at the club after joining the Blues in 1970 having been player-manager at Newport County.

“He was my coach when I was in the youth team," Beattie said. “Obviously I was a defender and he decided to play me up front because we were short of forwards against Cambridge United and he said, ‘Just do your best, son’, so I did and we won 6-0 and I got all six goals, so that cheered him up!

The former England defender, 64, said Ferguson, who it's understood suffered a heart attack, was the man who came up with the idea of playing Eric Gates in the hole behind main strikers Paul Mariner and Alan Brazil in the team which won the 1981 UEFA Cup, having played Johnny Miller in that position during his time as reserves coach.

It was also Ferguson’s suggestion to play a three-man frontline - Clive Woods on the left, Mariner in the centre and David Geddis on the right - in the 1978 FA Cup final against Arsenal in order to limit the effectiveness of their full-backs.

“He was responsible for us playing David Geddis in the cup final,” Beattie confirmed.

“And he found Gatesy the proper place for him. He was an important cog alongside the boss first and Charlie Woods. You couldn’t want for a better coaching staff.”

Reflecting on Ferguson’s time in charge of the Blues after Robson’s departure for England, Beattie added: “When he got the manager’s job after the boss left, he had to sell all the good players. It was a big, big job for him but he did well, he kept us up for a few seasons.

“But we just didn’t have the players. Bobby had a tough time as you can imagine. What a hard act to follow.”

Beattie’s team-mate Terry Butcher paid tribute on the club site: “It’s a devastating day. Bobby was a great and funny man and I loved being in his company.

“He was a major influence on me and helped me become the player I did. He turned me from an awkward, gangly footballer and taught me how to use my physique to my advantage.

“Bobby was a tough but fair man, and that’s what I, and other players, needed.

“He made me become a tougher player and in those days that was so important because football was a more physical game.

“His standards were the best and he was the perfect man to work with Bobby Robson.

“They formed a special partnership and I think it was Bobby who really set the foundations for what was to be the most successful period in the club’s history.

“His coaching sessions will stay with me forever too. We used to practice passing for hours on end but somehow it was still fun — some of his training drills were legendary and the players loved them. Bobby was a good man and it’s a sad day for the club.”

John Wark added: “Bobby was a great coach and someone that I had a lot of respect for so this is a sad day.

“He always had a lot to do with the systems we played in games and being a proper tactician he was very influential in our UEFA Cup success.

“He was also an old school manager and he would tell us how it is, I think that’s something we needed, liked and respected. I know he loved his golf, and was very good at it, so it was always nice to see him at reunions or out on the course in more recent years.”

Russell Osman told BBC Radio Suffolk: "He'd go nose to nose with you in an argument and wouldn't back away at any time.

"He was somebody you respected. When he spoke you listened to him, and he treated the players with a hell of a lot of respect.”

Frans Thijssen added: "He had a special character and worked together as a combination with Bobby Robson. What stays with me are great memories in these years with him."

Town have confirmed that the players will wear black armbands during Monday's match against Millwall, while there will be a minute’s applause prior to kick-off.

Photo: Action Images

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blueboy1981 added 16:50 - Mar 28
Nice words Beat - just like yourself, a 'true blue' and great guy.

blueboy1981 added 16:52 - Mar 28
....... in fact - nice words from all of you. Sure tells you something about the man he was.

rfretwell added 18:05 - Mar 28
The Geddis ploy in the FA Cup final was an utter masterstroke- he played a blinder as dud all the team. Well done with that Bobby and RIP. "We practiced passing for hours at a time". Our present day coaches need to take note of that.

tractorboybig added 18:07 - Mar 28
unfortuantly managed us when the great times were coming to an end.

warktheline added 18:10 - Mar 28
@blueboy, what an era! The whole lot of them shaped my childhood ! I will always be thankful .

jocasaja added 18:19 - Mar 28
I had 'trials' with Ipswich when I was a schoolboy - weekly training sessions on the practice pitch. He was a hard character but really new his stuff. I still remember a lot of the drills and coaching that he used - A real Geordie and tough as old boots. He certainly commanded great respect....fond memories

blueboy1981 added 19:13 - Mar 28
warktheline - indeed - memories never to be forgotten. Then the reality of the current scenario returns .. ((

Let's just live in hope of those days again - And why not ? - no one will ever convince me we cannot, under the right ownership, and management.

Tufty added 19:48 - Mar 28
When my son was seven I took him and my 16 year old nephew to Portman road for the first time v Sunderland.
Wrote to the club before hand explained it was their first trip to see town play from our home in Worcestershire. Bobby Ferguson gave us a full behind the scenes tour met all the players, Mick Stockwell made sure the lads got all the autographs. just an hour before kick off. Both been true blues ever since one is 40 the other 47 now.
A real gent who knew how important fans are and how to look after them.
Perhaps others should take note (Mr M)
Rest easy Mr Ferguson

siebdykstra added 20:27 - Mar 28
My first memories of ITFC were when Mr. Ferguson was in charge. My dad had seen the Robson years and then seen the club struggle financially and always told me that our relegation was not down to him. RIP Mr Ferguson, you will remembered in Suffolk. And in Cologne, where you showed how much you loved our club and the work you did for us.

muhrensweet4thijssen added 22:09 - Mar 28
At a time when a managerial change seems iminant at our club. Let us not forget that 31 years after he was sacked we all thought that it was bad times. Really! He was a great coach, he was my first manager at my first game in 1982. He just couldnt follow the legacy of Sir Bobby in a time when the team was breaking up (WHO COULD HAVE) we are still looking for that man to be honest! Open attractive football, a small,town punching above its weight, great footballers, great times. While I am in no way comaparing the massive input of Bobbys I put as a coach. I have to draw a comparison
A no non sense in your face northern defender who was trying to operate on a small budget. Ultimately deemed surplus to requirements......... oh yes my next years were spent in the West stand watching JOHN DUNCANs teams (the lower league chesterfield manager) WOW that was awful. Anyone remember that? I hope that any change(I do think is necessary) is not knee jerk. If no one better out there stick with what we got in my opinion.
Rest in peace Mr Ferguson and thank you for all you did our club and even though as a manager you weren't shown the respect you deserved when considering what followed you should go down as a clubman legend in my opinion

fergalsharkey added 08:15 - Mar 29
A massive cog in superb machine.

Cookycrew added 09:55 - Mar 29
RIP Bobby
- You were a Major part of the 'Tough' guy / 'Nice' guy strategy used by Sir Bobby in our 70/80's successes.
The players here/above show how much you were respected.

chrismadrid added 19:12 - Mar 29
Once met Ferguson, a tough ,rather offhand but decent bloke.Lacked the warmth and charm somehow of the great Sir Bobby but still an accomplished coach.Shame he never got the success afterwards the club wanted,but his best achievement then was keeping us up with so many players leaving in the early 80s.Gritty and some ability to work on a low budget,let's hope our new boss now MM's going shows the same attributes.........

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