My Best Town XI: Mick Stockwell
Saturday, 16th May 2020 10:09
In part 32 of the series, Kieron Dyer catches up with Town legend Mick Stockwell, who selects the best XI from his long spell with the Blues before Dyer assesses his side.
Goalkeeper Paul Cooper - The best goalie never to play for England. He was so unlucky that he had Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton in his way. He was so good with his distribution that he could play in five-a-sides and you’d think he was an outfield player. Craig Forrest was a fantastic goalkeeper but he was useless with his feet, so that’s why I’ve gone for Paul Cooper.
Right-back Mauricio Taricco - The best partnership I had in my career, we had a telepathic relationship. Taricco was my room-mate for a number of years but we never talked about our relationship on the pitch. I loved that he was a really nasty piece of work on the pitch but was a real gentleman off it. I knew when Taricco had the ball that if I ran long the ball would find my feet. If I found a pocket, Taricco would put the ball in exactly the right place. Taricco is my right-back because wherever I played on the pitch I never had a partnership with any other player like I did with him.
Left-back Steve McCall - Even though Neil Thompson was my best friend at the club at the time, I have to go for Steve McCall. Honest, tough, could see all the pictures, was good enough to get in the 1981 team, which just goes to show what kind of player he was when he was competing with George Burley and Mick Mills.
Right centre-half Terry Butcher - A will to win, desire, went on to be England captain. I don’t really have to say any more than that.
Left centre-half Mark Venus - Veno had a great attitude, a great left foot. With his distribution in today’s game he would be most managers’ dream. He was so comfortable on the ball.
Midfield John Wark - The best player I ever played with at Ipswich Town. Again, I don’t really have to say much more than that.
Midfield Jim Magilton - A will to win, self-belief, his mental side of the game was his strongest, that desire. Willed everybody on, always wanted the ball, never feared the ball.
Midfield Kieron Dyer - I was fortunate that I coached Kieron when he was a schoolboy and in the youth teams and you could tell from an early age that he was definitely going to make it. Not many people talk about it but one of Kieron’s main strengths was his footballing IQ and that’s why he could play in numerous positions and make it look so easy.
Midfield Jason Dozzell - Very clever, also made the game look so easy. Wasn’t a runner but didn’t need to be because he could see all the pictures in his head before most people and he was a great finisher and would score tons of goals at the top of the diamond.
Striker Chris Kiwomya - Electric pace, scored goals.
Striker Marcus Stewart - Marcus was a terrific player, he and Chris would be a perfect combination because Marcus was very clever, had great link-up play and with Chris’s lightning pace they would be a really formidable front two.
I’ve played with so many players, special mentions should also go to Neil Thompson, Dalian Atkinson and Paul Goddard up front, and perhaps I could look at a way of getting Matt Holland in the team but Warky is also that type of box-to-box player.
I was looking forward to Micky Stockwell’s XI because he had almost 20 uninterrupted years at the football club. I’ve mentioned Warky and Dozzer having spells in different eras over their careers, but they obviously left the club and came back. But Micky had nearly 20 years solid so he so many players to pick from.
When talking about Jason Dozzell's XI, I said that if you’re looking for a player from a later era that could break into the all-time greatest XI, I thought Richard Wright has probably got the biggest chance given that players from the 1970s and the 1980s would dominate the team.
So in Micky we’ve finally got a player who has played with both Paul Cooper and Richard. I think Jason did for a few games but Mick played a long period with both of them and he’s gone for Paul Cooper. I can’t really argue with his opinion, I never got the chance to play with Paul Cooper.
When looking at XIs from that 1980s team previously, Charlie Woods said George Burley was like a modern-day full-back and I said Russell Osman was a modern-day centre-half because he was so good with his feet.
Everyone talks about how great Paul Cooper’s distribution was and I don’t know many keepers who can play on the football pitch and look good. In fact I never played with a goalkeeper who could play in five-a-sides. I always used to say that they ended up being goalkeepers because they were useless at five-a-side and football in general and they had no other choice but to be flung into goal.
It’s brilliant to hear how great Cooper was with his feet. And in the modern day, it’s not about them stopping shots any more or if they can come for crosses, the first thing scouts are looking for in a goalkeeper is whether they can play with their feet and help start attacks and create overloads all over the pitch.
I think it’s quite interesting that Mick says that the best partnership he forged was with Mauricio Taricco. I was coughing down the phone to say ‘What about me?’ because when I first broke into the team I was right-back and Mick was right wing.
We’ve previously mentioned Taricco and Paul Mason’s combination but obviously Mick also thought that way about him, which just goes to show how great Taricco was.
When I first came into the team as a right-back, it wasn’t my preferred position but with the help Mick gave me, he made it easy for me coming into the first team.
The players that gave me the most help were probably Simon Milton off the pitch, we formed a bond and he’d always look out for me, and on the pitch it was Mick in my first six months in the first team. We formed a great partnership down the right, he would coach me as the games were going on. He was fantastic for me.
I mentioned when talking about Jim Magilton’s XI about having the young-v-old five-a-sides and we used to batter the old ‘uns and I remember were beating them one day and I was getting big-time in a way saying ‘We always batter you!’ and I can remember Mick losing it on me and absolutely snapping me in a tackle. And Mick never did that.
I’m thinking ‘What the hell are you doing that for?’. And he said ‘Go on, get the ball, I dare you to get the ball’, he was going to snap me again. I’m thinking ‘Bloody hell, what’s going here!’.
Then after training he pulled me aside and said ‘Listen, we’re all having fun but don’t ever forget where you’ve come from and don’t take liberties with your elders, you overstepped the mark a bit and this is me trying to show you that that’s not acceptable’, bringing me back to earth in a way.
I’ll never forget that, and rightly so. I was only having fun but my piss-taking at the time went a bit too far and that upset Mick and that was a lesson he taught me. But there were so many lessons he taught me and in that first six months the transition was so easy and it was all because of Mick Stockwell.
At centre-half, selecting Terry Butcher speaks for itself but I keep saying that Veno was very underrated. Mick must have left out so many centre-halves, Mogga, David Linighan, he’s probably played with 20 or 30 centre-halves.
I think that says a lot about Veno. When I say he was underrated, yes, the fans appreciated him but he’s not one of the first names which comes to a lot of people’s minds. But he always dominates these teams. I even changed my formation to play three at the back. I don’t even like three at the back but I wanted to get Veno in my team. It’s no surprise to me that Micky has got him in his team as well.
His midfield four is in a diamond. Wow, I would love to play in that midfield four. I’d maybe swap Jim for Warky and take all Warky’s defensive responsibilities away from him and put Jim there holding with me and Warky either side because then Warky could focus more on getting in the box and scoring the 30 goals a season he always used to do.
That is an exciting midfield. You could say ‘Where’s Matt Holland, where’s Mark Brennan’, again he would have played with so many midfielders over the year.
As I say, I would love to play in that midfield, I got to play with Dozzer towards the end of his career, nowhere near in his prime and in a way I don’t think I saw Jim in his prime because he was still trying to get fit from being out of the team at Sheffield Wednesday and I only played with him for a few months.
And I would have loved to have played with Warky in his prime. I trained with him and saw what he used to do to goalkeepers and I’ve told the story about when I was giving it the big ‘un in five-a-side and he and Simon Milton gave me a lesson in five-a-side.
That midfield would rip up a lot of Premier League teams today, for definite. A very good midfield.
Up front, Micky’s given a special mention to Dalian Atkinson and Paul Goddard. He made Geraint Williams’s team, bit of an unsung hero, a bit like Scowy because he was such a great link-up player, the players who played with him really appreciated him but he missed out on one of Mick’s two striker slots.
I agree with Mick that the combination of Kiwomya and Stewart would be very good because you’ve got one who has got out and out pace, who wants to go in behind and then you’ve got Marcus Stewart who is very intelligent, very clever. There would be a lot of goals in that team, a lot of goals.
David Johnson missed out, Dalian missed out, again Mick must have played with so many strikers. When I put Mick on the spot he said “Bloody hell, if I properly got to research this, there are probably names I’ve forgotten!”.
But it is a good team, it’s one of the best teams we’ve had, I think. Definitely up there. If you take the early eighties teams out of it, I think this is one of the best that we’ve had.
He’s explained why certain players haven’t quite got in, Matt Holland because he’s got Warky, who is a similar type of player and where Matt might get you 10 goals, Warky would get you 30. You can’t really argue with that.
The help he gave me in the early part of my career I’ll never forget, that was invaluable. But I’d forgotten until he mentioned it that he used to coach me when I was a schoolboy. Neil Thompson used to as well, I don’t know whether they were still doing their coaching badges at the time while they were still playing.
When we used to train on a Thursday evening, the players would come in and there’d be a surprise, “Micky Stockwell’s coming to coach you tonight” or “Neil Thompson’s coming to coach you tonight”, “Paul Goddard’s coming to coach you tonight”.
I’d totally forgotten that until Mick mentioned it. I would have been 14 or 15, when they were in the Premier League around 1993.
A lot’s made about ex-players coming back to the club and coaching different age groups, but we’re ex-players and maybe because of the money in the game these days, players don’t really think about another career until their career’s finished, but back in the day you had to think “What am I going to do after football?”.
I know Skusey and Chambo and players like that who are playing now are doing their badges but I wish I’d done my badges while I was playing.
How good would it be for our young kids of 10, 11 or 12 to have Luke Chambers come and coach them? Skusey come and train them, Flynn Downes come and train them? It would be such a lift for them.
There’s been talk about us losing a lot of our young players to the bigger clubs in recent years, the likes of Ben Knight who joined Manchester City, how much would that help to sell the club if you’ve got players in the first team who they idolise actually doing the coaching? I was quite fortunate that in my time that we had these players coming in and coaching us.
Photo: Action Images
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