Town almost let Clive slip away

WEMBLEY winner Clive Woods was almost the one that got away as far as Ipswich Town were concerned.

Nick Garnham

WEMBLEY winner Clive Woods was almost the one that got away as far as Ipswich Town were concerned.

Woods had a trial with Ipswich Town in 1967, playing in a reserve match away to Northampton Town Reserves in the same side as Mick Mills, as well as goalkeeper Alec Bugg and midfielders Eddie Spearritt and Danny Hegan.

“We won 2-0 but I didn't see much of the ball at all. It was a different level to what I was used to,” Woods said.

Two years later he was invited back by scout Reg Tyrrell, who had watched him play for Norwich side Gothic, and appeared in several reserve matches before he was invited to sign by Bobby Robson.

Woods, who lived in Norwich, recalled: “I didn't have a car then, so I had to walk from my mum's to the station to catch the train. Trevor Whymark would then get on at Diss for the journey to Ipswich. We would then walk back to the station after the game.

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“We had beaten Chelsea 3-0 at Portman Road and were having a coffee at the station while we were waiting to catch the train back to Norwich when Jack Mansell, the Reading manager, came up and said 'would you two like to come to Reading?' and pushed his card into my hand.

“Within a few days we both got a call from Bobby Robson asking us to sign. Whether he had heard something I don't know, but we both joined Ipswich at the same time.”

Woods, who cost Ipswich £50, recalled: “I was earning £18 a week working in a shoe factory, and I signed for Ipswich on £20 a week, although I got £18 in the summer when I wasn't playing.

“I wanted to become a footballer so much I didn't worry about the money. All I was interested in was playing well and enjoying it. I was very, very fit - I would run virtually every night of the week - before I became a professional footballer. The training was tough and the pace of the game was much quicker, but I learnt to adapt.”

Woods, who could play up front, as a winger or in midfield, said: “Although I was skilful, I had good levels of stamina as well.

“People love to watch players doing tricks rather than the direct approach of knocking the ball over the top. When I played, people used to like watching Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh and Tony Currie. They were all flair players who were better than me.

“I could have been as skilful as them, but I was probably more of a team player. It didn't matter if they lost the ball, but if I did I would probably have been dropped!”

His versatility served Woods well in the semi-final victory over West Bromwich Albion when he had to drop back into midfield to replace the injured Brian Talbot, with Mick Lambert coming on as substitute on the left wing.

“I was not the best tackler or header of a ball, but I could work hard and put people under pressure,” he said.

“I remember the pressure in that game - nobody wanted to make a mistake - as we were so close to Wembley.

“I can't really explain the relief that flowed over me at the end. It was one of the greatest feelings that you can have in football, and being able to pour champagne over Cyril Lea [the first-team coach] afterwards and him not get upset was even greater!”

Woods recalled during the build-up to the final wondering whether he would play or Mick Lambert, who was substitute at Wembley, would be selected ahead of him.

He said: “I remember we went to Liverpool in the 1975-76 season on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run and Bobby Robson said he was dropping me to substitute because Ray Kennedy was really good in the air and he thought I would struggle against him. We drew 3-3, but to be fair to Robbo he did play me the next week.

“It really upset me at the time, so I could understand why Roger [Osborne] was so gutted when he was left out of the side at Aston Villa the week before the final. We were all gutted for him.”

Woods and Osborne were both in the side at Wembley a week later to play leading roles in Town's triumph beneath the Twin Towers.

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