Operation cast shadow over career

AN operation on his troublesome left knee after the cup final left a question mark hanging over Allan Hunter's career.“The surgeon said to me: 'If you keep on playing football you will end up in a wheelchair.

Nick Garnham

AN operation on his troublesome left knee after the cup final left a question mark hanging over Allan Hunter's career.

“The surgeon said to me: 'If you keep on playing football you will end up in a wheelchair. I have got to tell your manager that as well'.

“The club were really good to me after that. I helped Charlie Woods run the reserves and I loved doing that, although the first team had a bit of a crisis at one stage and I played about 13 or 14 games to help them out.

“Then Bobby Robson told me that Colchester wanted me as their player-manager and he would not stand in my way, but I could stay until my contract finished if I wanted to.”

Hunter took the job in May 1982, but realised soon after that he had made a mistake.

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“I had only been there a week when I thought 'what have I done?' I just wasn't cut out to be a manager. Maurice Cadman, the chairman, was a marvellous man and really backed me and thought I would come through.

“However, within six months I had resigned and I felt 40 years younger!

“ It was a good, bad experience,” recalled Hunter.

He returned a year later as coach to manager Mike Walker, but they were both sacked with Colchester top of the old Division Four.

While a player at Ipswich, Hunter had opened a fete at Belstead Special School and this led to him getting a job there teaching woodwork.

He is a carpenter by trade and he was also helping the pupils learn to swim and play football.

He then spent two years working for social services with people with learning

disabilities around the Ipswich area before spending the past ten years in a similar capacity working for Genesis Ltd, making garden furniture.

Hunter, who retired at Christmas, said: “I had good times at Ipswich as a player and I have been able to put something back into the community by working with other people.

“When I left I had a letter from one of the parents saying how she had appreciated the help I had given over the years which brought tears to my eyes.”

He now plays golf two or three times a week at St Clement's Golf Club in the town as well as with the ex-Ipswich Town players' society at Hintlesham and Suffolk Water Park, Bramford.

Hunter, who had spells scouting for the late Alan Ball when he was manager at Manchester City and Sir Bobby Robson while he was at Newcastle United, still attends Portman Road regularly.

He and wife Carol, will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary this year.

They have two sons - Lee, who played professionally at Colchester and Wigan, and Paul, who both live locally.

They have three grandchildren - Ben, Joe and Mia.

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