Injury blighted rest of Mick's career

TWO days after Ipswich won the FA Cup Mick Lambert's testimonial match took place at Portman Road.But Lambert did not cash in as much as he may have done because Ipswich played their final match of the season - at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers - just 24 hours later.

Nick Garnham

TWO days after Ipswich won the FA Cup Mick Lambert's testimonial match took place at Portman Road.

But Lambert did not cash in as much as he may have done because Ipswich played their final match of the season - at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers - just 24 hours later.

A gate approaching 17,000 turned out on the Monday night to salute their FA Cup heroes as Ipswich faced an all-star XI in Lambert's honour.

The following evening a crowd of 25,904 saw a weary Ipswich side lose 2-1 to Wolves.

“With two games in two days the gate was split in half. We only charged £1 to come on the Monday - it was not about making money,” he said.

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Lambert set off for America on the Friday after to spend the summer with Vancouver Whitecaps after his injury-curtailed season.

“Because I had not played much that season I was hoping to get back to full fitness, but my hamstring injury re-occurred after about five matches and because my wife at the time was pregnant we either had to stay for the next four months or so or come home straight away - so we came back.”

Lambert left Ipswich in the summer of 1979 and signed for Peterborough in a £40,000 deal, but his time at London Road was blighted by a hamstring injury to his other leg, coupled with a cyst, and illness.

He packed up playing professionally and dropped down to non-league level, turning out for Chelmsford City, Newmarket Town and Tiptree.

During his time at Ipswich he was involved in a camping and caravan business - Park Mayne along Bramford Lane, Ipswich - but that closed after a couple of years.

“The day after we opened it was decided to put VAT on everything!” recalled Lambert, who then worked for the Eurosport Village at Shotley.

“It was supposed to be the biggest sports village in Europe and I was sports manager. However, after four or five years it closed down and I was made redundant.”

Lambert sold insurance and conservatories and delivered frozen food before suffering a heart attack about six years ago, which meant an end to playing tennis.

“I can now play golf - as long as I don't carry my clubs - and bowls.”

He is a member at Stone Lodge, and last August was in the side that reached the semi-finals of the Suffolk Fours competition.

While working night shifts at Claydon Country House he was invited to a golf day with John Grose which led to him landing a job with the car dealership a year-and-a-half ago as a courtesy bus driver.

Lambert, who still lives in Ipswich with second wife Margaret, said: “I am really happy there and they have really looked after me.

“I get quite a few avid Ipswich fans who are surprised to see me. It is nice - it gives everyone something to talk about.”

Thirty years on from the FA Cup final triumph Lambert said: “I still get stuff forwarded on by Ipswich Town to be signed and returned. What I don't know is whether they are collectors themselves or whether they are selling it on the internet!”

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