The original and the greatest … Sir Alf

Artathon 17: Sir Alf Ramsey Statue

Sir Alf Ramsey

Sir Alf Ramsey and his wife Lady Victoria Ramsey lived for more than 30 years in a modest three bedroom detached house on Valley Road, Ipswich, just a hop, skip and long throw in from chez Extreme Groundhopping. Sir Alf could often been seen walking along Norwich Road to pick up his newspapers from Goldings Newsagents (now Hunterskill Recruitment) but never without a shirt and tie.

The same was true when he headed to the town centre on a shopping excursion where yours truly almost flattened the football legend, rounding a counter in Debenhams a bit sharpish and crashing into Sir Alf. Oddly it he was that was first to apologise. Not one for suffering fools gladly he had clearly made an exception in my case.

Although he was known to have been ill for sometime it was still with great sadness that the news of his death made the headlines in late April 1999. Then ITFC chairman David Sheepshanks put it so succinctly when he said: “As much as we mourn his passing, I think it is important that we celebrate properly the remarkable life and achievements of a truly extraordinary man. To take a small club, as Ipswich Town were in the last 50’s, from Division Three (South) to the First Division Championship on limited resources was a legendary feat.”

But of course Sir Alf didn’t stop there, becoming the only manager in the history of football in this country to win both the League title and World Cup when, four years after his success with Town, and on that so so famous sun drenched day at Wembley in 1966, his England side beat West Germany 4-2 to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.

His success on the field should however not overshadow his victories off it as it was after all he that was responsible for starting the revolution that shook sense into the men in grey suits at the Football Association. His new methods propelled English football into the modern world and shook off the cosy and amateurish ways in which the game had been run for so long. He became the national side’s first true manager, responsible for all matters football and no longer a messenger boy for the international selection committee.

Despite his unparalleled success he remained a very modest man, loved the town of Ipswich, which he had adopted as his own, as the townspeople did him. A no more fitting a tribute of him exists than that of the Sir Alf Ramsey statue at the corner Portman Road and Sir Alf Ramsey Way (formerly Portman Walk and renamed in his honour) a very popular pre-match meeting point for Town fans since its unveiling in 2000.

Full Artathon details here.

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