Bobby Robson signed just 18 senior players in 13 years at Portman Road, but which ones make Terry Hunt’s top 10?

Dressing room scene: Town players (from left) Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Paul Mariner take in

Dressing room scene: Town players (from left) Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Paul Mariner take in their epic victory in St Etienne - Credit: Archant

Bobby Robson’s success at Ipswich Town was built on the phenomenal youth system combined with the occasional foray into the transfer market.

According to our reckoning, the great man only signed 18 players during his 13 years at Portman Road. Here’s the top ten according to Terry Hunt.

For the sake of completeness, we also list the other eight Robson signings.

For clarity, only those who arrived at Portman Road as senior players were considered.

Frank Clarke


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Experienced striker Clarke - part of the footballing dynasty which included Allan Clarke - arrived from QPR in March 1970 as part of the rescue squad to save Town from relegation. He and Jimmy Robertson did the trick, Town stayed up, and the rest is history.

Paul Cooper

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Cooper’s arrival from Birmingham for £23,000 in 1974 barely registered with Town fans, but he would become a Portman Road great. Cooper played 575 times for Town, including the FA Cup and UEFA Cup Finals. Gained a reputation for saving penalties.

Bryan Hamilton

After a slow start following his signing from Irish football, Hamilton blossomed into a goalscoring midfielder who was an important part of Robson’s first great side. Heartbreak in the 1975 FA Cup semi-final against West Ham, when referee Clive Thomas disallowed two Hamilton “goals.’’

Allan Hunter

The story is well documented: Robson thought he would be sacked after his team had been torn apart by George Best and Man Utd. Instead, chairman John Cobbold gave him the funds to buy Hunter. Within a year, Ipswich had gone from also-rans to a real force.

David Johnson

Eyebrows were raised when Robson swapped Rod Belfitt for an unknown 21-year-old striker from Everton. But David Johnson made a real mark, scoring 46 times in his time at Portman Road berfore returning to Merseyside - to join Liverpool. Also scored goals for England.

Paul Mariner

What more is there to say? After Johnson’s departure, Ipswich needed to replace him with a class striker. Robson won a three-way battle with West Ham and West Brom for Mariner’s signature in what was one of his most important signings.

Arnold Muhren

The first of Robson’s two iconic Dutch signings. Muhren’s passing with his left foot was utterly mesmeric. His arrival signalled a change in style for Ipswich - and it was so easy on the eye.

Kevin O’Callaghan

“Cally’’ was more often than not 12th man in the great side of the early 1980s. The stats bear it out - he started 89 games for Town, and came on as sub another 59 times.

Jimmy Robertson

The other half of the 1970 rescue squad. Robertson arrived from Arsenal early in 1970 with Town staring at relegation. A real class act, his performances - and goals - played a huge part in keeping Ipswich in the top flight.

Frans Thijssen

Talking of other halves, Thijssen was the second “Dutch Master’’ to arrive. What a player. The ball seemed to be stuck to his foot as he weaved his way through panic-stricken defences.

For the record, here are Robson’s other signings:

Terry Austin

David Barnes

Rod Belfitt

Ian Collard

Mick Hill

John Jackson

Tony Kinsella

Pat Sharkey

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