My Best Town XI: Bryan Hamilton Part One
Tuesday, 19th May 2020 14:31
In part 33 of the series, Kieron Dyer catches up with former Blues midfielder and coach Bryan Hamilton, who selects the best XI from his spell as a Town player before Dyer evaluates his selection. Bryan has also selected an XI from his spells as a coach with the Blues.
Goalkeeper Paul Cooper - It was close between Paul Cooper and Laurie Sivell but I’ve gone for Cooper because he was the more athletic keeper. Everyone talks about his lack of height but because of his spring and his athletic capabilities he could out-jump anyone, he could spring to the top corner. The best distribution I’ve ever seen from a goalkeeper, great hands.
Right-back George Burley - He was a dedicated young professional when I was at the club, a fantastic passer of the ball, fantastic delivery, could run up and down all day.
Left-back Mick Mills - A real leader. I think Mick was probably a better right-back than left-back, and he played for England as a right-back. But because we had another very good right-back in George Burley he played the left-back role, which he could do easily. There were also a number of times that he did a job in midfield because he was very intelligent, he had a very high footballing IQ.
Right centre-half Allan Hunter - Awesome, a bully. A bully to the opposition, a bully to his own team-mates to make them better. A real leader and he doesn’t get enough credit for how good he was at passing the ball. Not many people know that when he first came to the club he was a midfielder, that’s why his passing ability was so good when he went into the back four.
Left centre-half Kevin Beattie - A giant of a player. When he first came down from Carlisle you could see he was a man in a boy’s body. One of the best players I ever played with. It’s a shame he was plagued by injury because he could have made more than 100 appearances for England.
Right wing Jimmy Robertson - Very quick, really skilful and hugged the touchline. I think the saying ‘get chalk on your boots’ must have come from Jimmy Robertson because he was an out-and-out winger. He never tucked in, never tried to find pockets, just made the pitch massive by hugging the touchline on the right.
Central midfield John Wark - An outstanding young player when he was coming through. He was the complete midfielder, could break up play, his passing was unbelievable. Everyone talks about his goalscoring prowess but if Warky had been playing centre-half in his prime he would have been one of the best centre-halves ever.
Central midfield Colin Viljoen - He was quick, extremely talented. What was strange about Viljoen was that he raised his standards to whoever he was playing against. If we were playing teams at the lower end of the league, he would just do enough and it would look like he had an average game. Then there were times when he played against the Alan Balls and the Colin Bells and he made them look average. When he played the top, top players, he would just be unbelievable, he raised his game to the standard he playing against.
Left wing Mick Lambert - Micky Lambert was right-footed but miles better on the left. He scored loads of goals for a winger and contributed a lot of assists.
Striker David Johnson - He could run as quickly with the ball as he could without it. He was a complete player, Bobby Robson did unbelievable business when he got him and gave Everton Rod Belfitt in exchange. One of Bobby’s best ever decisions because we got an unbelievable player who won caps for England.
Striker Trevor Whymark - The best header of the ball I’ve ever seen. Everyone at the moment is watching the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance and Trevor Whymark had hang-time like Michael Jordan where they just jump and it seems like they were in the air for an eternity. An incredible link-up player. Fifty per cent of my goals at Ipswich were from Trevor Whymark’s link-up play, knowing that he’d flick the ball there or put me in there. A terrific, terrific player.
I’ve gone for one sub. It was tough between Micky Lambert and Clive Woods on the wing but I’ve put Clive on the bench. I don’t want to take anything away from the overall player that Clive was but he was the best impact player I’ve ever seen, in any era. He would come on and always make something happen. When he played it was like he should have had his own ball. Brave, a personality, a bit like Ronaldo, he liked the pressure that he had to deliver. Clive Woods would always be the first substitute in any of these great Ipswich teams because he would always change a game.
I was privileged to watch or play when Stanley Matthews, George Best, Tom Finney and those types of player were around. If they’d been playing in today’s football, in any era of football, they would still be outstanding players. And this Ipswich team would be outstanding in any era. In today’s era, they would be at the top of the Premier League competing for all the trophies, they were that special.
What is really insightful about this team is that usually when I’ve spoken to players from an earlier era, the team is identical except for the centre-halves, which change.
Bryan played a few years before the 78 team and the 81 team, so he didn’t get to play with the Muhrens and Thijssens and we’re getting to see a lot of faces that haven’t been mentioned before but were unbelievable players who would probably have graced any team in any era.
Having said that, Bryan’s back four and goalkeeper have a very familiar look about them.
It’s interesting what he says about Allan Hunter being a bully and getting the best out of his team-mates and in a way Jim Magilton had that same approach where he was so demanding.
When talking about Trevor Whymark he mentions the Michael Jordan documentary, some of his team-mates said he was a bit of an a-hole but what he had was a will to win and he’d drive everyone on and it was tough love to some team-mates.
I don’t know how that would come across with the modern day player but I think you need characters like that to be demanding and have that will to win and drive everyone on.
When you hear about these type of characters they don’t expect anything from team-mates that they’re not doing themselves. Hunter, Magilton or Jordan would be setting the standards and raising the bar and the other players have to jump on the ship and follow. That goes to show how influential Allan Hunter was.
It’s funny, everyone calls the Brazilian Ronaldo the ‘real’ Ronaldo. I always used to tell Johnno who I played with “You’re not the original, you’re the fake David Johnson!”.
The real David Johnson finally makes an appearance, which is good. Obviously someone who played and scored for England.
Trevor Whymark was in Terry Butcher’s second best XI and Steve McCall named him on his bench, but this is the first time he’s made a first team. Again, a fantastic player, another striker who played for England.
I’m fascinated by what Bryan says about Colin Viljoen. When psychologists came in to football they often looked at addressing motivational problems for some players, myself included. If I’m playing for Newcastle and we’re playing Exeter in the League Cup. it’s hard to get motivated. That’s just the way it is.
You’re meant to be a dedicated pro but somewhere in your psyche the feeling that ‘it’s only Exeter’ lurks, and that’s when you can come undone.
When he says Viljoen played to the standard that he was playing against, I know that there are many players who I have played with or against in my career who have had that same kind of problem.
What is remarkable is that he says that when Viljoen played against the Alan Balls and Colin Bells, who were the top, top midfielders at the time, he made them look average, he rose to the occasion.
A name which won’t be familiar to too many fans but I’m there’ll be plenty reading this who will know all about him and will be buzzing that he’s in the team. This is the first team in which players from the early seventies such as Jimmy Robertson are getting selected. We’ve been trying to cover different eras to take in as many players as possible.
Bryan’s really picked three wingers with Mick Lambert on the left and Clive Woods his substitute. He didn’t want seeing him as the best impact player of all-time to detract from Woods’s overall ability and he made a point of saying that football today is about a squad with everybody talking about, for example, how strong Manchester City’s bench is, how great that squad is.
He said the squad is the team and, while he’d start a lot of games, if Woods came on for 30 minutes, you knew he’d score a goal, create a goal, do something and he was one of those players that fans paid money to see because he’d get you off your seat in anticipation.
I really like that team. Bryan had a couple of spells coaching at the club and I asked him what the score would be between this team and the one that he coached and he thinks this side would win.
Photo: Action Images
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