Worship at the house of Allchurch; Part 2

In the first part, I looked at the beginning of Ivor Allchurch’s footballing career. The second part of the two-part piece looks at Ivor’s career away from Swansea and his appearances for Wales including outings at the World Cup Finals itself. If you want to read part one, then please see below link to the article:

https://yddraigco.blog/2019/05/28/worship-at-the-house-of-allchurch-part-1/

Following his transfer to Newcastle United just the following day after he signed, he made his League debut for the club and his first-ever appearance in the First Division. The opposition was Leicester City, and Ivor scored twice on his debut in a three-one victory. Ivor ended the season as second top scorer at the club even though he only joined the club in October. His relationship with George Eastham and Len White was an instant success, and in that first season, the three scored 48 goals in total, an excellent return.

The summer before he joined Newcastle was a historic one for Ivor and indeed for the Welsh football team. After strong performances in World Cup qualification which resulted in a playoff against Israel for a place in the forthcoming World Cup Finals. Ivor scored for Wales in both legs, and finally, Wales had qualified for the World Cup Finals the nation was overjoyed.

Embed from Getty Images

Ivor played in all of the games Wales played in that tournament, scoring against Mexico and Hungary. Wales finally succumbed to Brazil and a solitary goal from the legendary Pele in the quarter-finals but not before Wales had surprised many people in the tournament and none more so than Ivor. It was said after the competition he would have got into any of the starting eleven’s and that included Brazil, high praise indeed.

In his second season with Newcastle the team struggled and were on an abysmal run of form. Wales had an international coming up, but Newcastle denied Ivor the opportunity to go and play for his country because they did not want to lose one of their stars while in the middle of a potential relegation battle at that point of the season. Ivor was very angry as he had agreed with the manager before signing that he would be released for each international and now they were going back on their word.

So incensed was the player that he handed in a transfer request. The team did turn around their form and ended the season in eighth place. Ivor’s transfer request was withdrawn, but more troubles lay ahead.

Newcastle again started the following season poorly. Ivor’s wife was pregnant, and she wanted to return to Wales to be close to her family. Ivor handed in a transfer request, but the club rejected this. With Newcastle trying to find a formula to get them out of yet another poor run. Ivor was moved to centre forward from his usual inside right position and was also made club captain. Ivor’s wife began to feel more comfortable in the North East and Ivor now as club captain, withdrew his transfer request. However, the team’s performances did not improve, and the club was relegated to the Second Division.

With Newcastle being in the Second Division many felt Ivor would move to another club in the First Division due to his ability. Newcastle with now a maximum wage restriction removed in football, were able to pay Ivor £60 a week, which as they pointed out for a player of his talent what cost would it take in a transfer fee to be able to find a suitable replacement?

Ivor was club captain and seemed content at the club, however, tragedy was to strike, his newly born daughter who was born premature, sadly died which obviously had a significant effect on him and his family plus the fact that yet again, Newcastle tried unsuccessfully this time, to block Ivor going away to play for Wales, gave Ivor a decision to make on his future. He decided he wanted to move to Wales for him and his family to be closer to their wider family group.

In August 1962, Ivor joined Cardiff City for a fee of £18,000. Cardiff like Newcastle was also in the Second Division, and the price seemed a substantial amount for the Welsh club, plus the fact that by now Ivor was aged 32. Ivor took a pay cut to return to Wales and on his debut repaid some of the transfer by scoring on his debut for Cardiff against his old club Newcastle. Ivor was the club captain and he and his strike partner; Peter Hooper scored between them 34 goals in the campaign with the side finishing tenth in the League.

The following year, Cardiff after losing a couple of players including Hooper, bought the legendary footballing giant of John Charles, who was another veteran on their books. The club over the coming seasons had limited success in the Second Division, but as Don Murray, the ex-Cardiff City centre half stated it was a privilege to have shared a football pitch with John Charles and Ivor Allchurch. The Cardiff players used to say if in danger give it to Ivor, and he will do the rest.

In 1965 and with Ivor now being 35 years of age, he made his final move of his professional career. Ivor moved back to where it had all started, Swansea City, who by now was in the Third Division. Season ticket sales enlarged with the news of the returning Ivor Allchurch. Even at the age of 35, his footballing skills still stood out, and Northampton Town who were in the First Division tried to sign the player just before Christmas, but Ivor was happy for his career to continue at Swansea.

Allchurch continued to play regularly for the side for the next few seasons and indeed even at 35 was still playing for his beloved Wales. Allchurch played his final game for Wales in 1966 against Chile, 16 years after his debut. Ivor at the time of his retirement and for many years after was the most capped player for Wales with 68 caps. His goalscoring record of 23 goals for his country at the time tied the record with Trevor Ford until bettered by Ian Rush and then Gareth Bale

Ivor in his final season with Swansea when aged 38 scored 17 League goals, some achievement. In May 1968, Ivor would play his last professional game against Hartlepool United.  He is still the record all time goalscorer for Swansea. Ivor went onto play non-league football for Worcester City and had spells at Welsh clubs, Haverfordwest and Portadawe before finally hanging up his boots at the age of 50, an incredible footballing achievement. In total, he played over 780 games in his professional club career scoring 288 goals, 186 of those goals with his hometown side, Swansea.

There is no question that Ivor Allchurch is a Welsh footballing legend. He was the golden boy of Welsh football. His defence-splitting passing ability created so many goals for others, and his long-range shooting ability scored so many goals for himself. As an inside right forward, he more often than not each season scored more than 12 goals in every Division he played. It is such a shame that Ivor did not get to play in the top flight until he was 28 years of age, but that is down more to the quality of the person wanting to propel his hometown club to the top Division rather than his ability on a football field.

As they said after the World Cup Finals in 1958, he was so good, he would have got in the Brazil side, and when you think of who they had in their forward line then, players such as Zagallo, Vava, Pele and Garrincha that validates the ability of the man.

Ivor sadly passed away in July 1997 aged 67 at home in Swansea. In 2005, Swansea unveiled a life-sized statue of the player outside the newly opened Liberty Stadium to celebrate his accomplishments for the club and his services to Welsh football. One of the greats, who should never be forgotten.

Embed from Getty Images