6 November 2012

In memoriam: Ivor Powell

Ivor Powell: 1916-2012.

Ivor Powell, whose career in football spanned an incredible eight decades, has died at the age of 96.

Powell's career began as a wing-half at Queens Park Rangers in 1937 and ended as a 93-year-old coach at the University of Bath in 2010. He was awarded an MBE for his services to football.

Born in the south Welsh village of Bargoed, Powell started his working life down the mine with his father and brothers. At the age of 20, he went to London after being offered a trial at QPR. This was unsuccessful, but after impressing in a reserve game a year later, the Loftus Road club offered him a contract.

Powell's best days as a player were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, although he did go on to make 159 appearances for QPR and won eight caps for Wales between 1946 and 1950. Powell struck up a close friendship with Stanley Matthews while guesting for Blackpool during the war, and they were best men for their respective weddings.

In 1948, he was transferred to Aston Villa for a then-record fee for a half-back (£17,500) and spent three years there before becoming player-manager at Port Vale. His playing career ended when he held a similar post at Bradford City in 1954 after suffering a knee ligament injury against Welsh club Wrexham.

He spent a few years in Cumbria, managing Carlisle United from 1960 to 1963 and being responsible for their first ever Football League promotion. But it was in 1964 that he moved down to Bath, where he was briefly coach for Bath City and later started a 37-year career as a coach at the city's university.

Team Bath's greatest result in the Powell era was arguably a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Horsham in 2002 which sent the team into Round 1 of the FA Cup. They became the first university team to achieve such a feat, although the run would end with a valiant 4-2 loss to league outfit Mansfield Town.

Powell was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest football coach in 2006, and received his MBE two years later.

Upon his retirement in 2010, the University of Bath's vice-chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, said of him, "Ivor's dedication and commitment to coaching and sport over nearly four decades here at Bath has been an inspiration to thousands of young people."

In terms of longevity, very few people in football come close to Ivor Powell, one of the most widely-respected people in the sport in this country.

Rest in peace, Ivor.

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