IAN GREAVES - TRUE STAGS LEGEND
1932 - 2009
Everyone at Mansfield Town Football Club and the Stags Supporters Association was saddened by the news of the death of Ian Greaves in January 2009 at his home near Bolton. He was 76. Greaves was Mansfield Town's longest serving manager. He took the club to Wembley for its first and only time in 1987 winning the Freight Rover Trophy, having gained promotion to the old Division Three a year earlier.
We send our condolences to his family.
To read our tribute, please click here
In this special tribute, Martin Shaw and Paul Taylor profile the career of Ian Greaves, focusing on his time at Field Mill.
Ian Greaves had been manager of Huddersfield Town, Bolton Wanderers, Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers when he was appointed manager of Mansfield Town in February 1983. He was a big name in English football, and it was quite a coup for the club to lure him to Field Mill. Richard Hartley, a 35-year-old multi-millionaire and owner of the Motorist Discount Centres, was the Stags chairman at that time, and he was the key to Greaves signing a 2½ year contract. Greaves told the press at the time: “I've had offers, ones that you would consider would be better for me, but the way Mansfield wanted me to run the club, coincided with the way I wanted to do it. I would rather not have a job than do it somebody else's way. I gave the matter a great deal of thought and if there was one person who removed any of my doubts about becoming a Fourth Division manager, it was the chairman.” Greaves added: “My goal is to get this club out of the Fourth Division.”
His first appointment was that of John Jarman as his assistant manager. Jarman came to Field Mill from Wolves where he had been Youth Development officer and part of his duties at Mansfield would be to discover and develop youngsters for the club.
During his first season at the club in 1982/83, Greaves signed Mark Kearney and Tony Lowery, who were to become key to the club's subsequent success. The club ended the season just above mid-table, whereas they had been just below mid-table when Greaves took over, and they lost just 4 of the 19 games that Greaves was in charge of.
At the start of the 1983/84 season, Greaves brought in former England full-back Steve Whitworth, winger Stewart Barrowclough, and most significantly, paid £15,000 for 26 year-old centre-half George Foster. Foster was to become the captain of the side, and 6 years later, after being Player of the Season in three of the seasons, he took over Greaves' position as manager. Greaves was famously quoted in 1983 as saying he was going to build a successful side around Foster, and he did that.
At end of the 1983/84 season, Mansfield finished sixth bottom of Division 4. It was a disappointing season. However Greaves had not only been busy with first team matters, he had been trying to put in place a strong youth set up, along with Jarman. Towards the end of the season, he had brought in young goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock on loan from Nottingham Forest, a player he was sign permanently at the start of the following season, and who was to become another Field Mill legend. Around that time, Greaves also brought in Billy Dearden, as coach, to complete his managerial team.
Early in the 1984/85 season there was a shock for the club when chairman Richard Hartley resigned. The reason given at the time was that his business activities no longer gave him time to devote to the Stags. However as Greaves revealed in an interview for the excellent Follow The Yellow Brick Road fanzine in 2004, this was not the full story, and Hartley had in fact gone bust. Jack Pratt immediately took over as chairman of the club.
The team finished just below midway in Division 4 in 1984/85. However they reached the area final of Freight Rover Trophy losing to Wigan, and thus missing out on a trip to Wembley, on penalties, on an incredible night at Field Mill. George Foster had scored an own goal to give Wigan the lead, but then he scored an absolute screamer from 30 yards in the 89th minute. Sadly Whitworth, Mick Vinter, and Neil Whatmore, who Greaves had also had at Bolton, all missed their spot-kicks and the Stags were beaten.
The game against Wigan marked the end of a career at Mansfield Town of one of the all-time Stags legends, Dave Caldwell. Caldwell was a superb striker and goalscorer for Mansfield, and is seventh in the all-time list of league and cup goalscorers for the club. But he had disciplinary problems. As an example, in October 1983 he was the villain at Elm Park, Reading. He was lectured after only one minute for taking a dig at a defender and was sent off after just 14 minutes after he had swung a punch at a defender. The Stags went on to lose 4-0 and Caldwell was immediately put on the transfer list, manager Greaves proclaiming “I am sick to death of his childish behaviour. His disciplinary record is appalling and no matter how hard we have tried, he has done nothing to put a stop to it”. Remarkably four days later came the highlight of Caldwell's career when he scored four goals in a 26 minute spell in a 5-0 win over Hartlepool at Field Mill. Before the start of the 1985/86 season, Caldwell joined Chesterfield for £12,000. Greaves couldn't wait to get rid of the controversial striker.
Also before the start of the 1985/86 season, forward Keith Cassells and winger Neville Chamberlain arrived at Field Mill. Meanwhile young defender Colin Calderwood left for Swindon, in controversial circumstances, and was to go on to play for Scotland as well as manage several high profile clubs.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Daily Express after a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Field Mill in the League Cup early in the 1985/86 season, Greaves said “Football is the only thing that matters in life. I'll die happy if we're 3-1 up at the time.” It said much about his dedication to the game.
It was to be a season of glory for the Stags, who earned promotion in third place in Division 4. Promotion was clinched with a fabulous 4-0 win over Hartlepool at Field Mill on a memorable night, with two goals from Cassells and one from Chamberlain. The team had really gelled during the season, with key performances from players like Hitchcock, Foster, Kearney, Lowery, Kevin Kent and Paul Garner. Up front, Chamberlain was the leading scorer, with Cassells not far behind, and Whatmore also contributed valuable goals. Cassells in fact scored a hat-trick on his debut, and remains the only Mansfield player since the 1930s to do so. The champions were Swindon and their manager Lou Macari said that Colin Calderwood, who they had signed from the Stags, was the difference between first place and third.
In 1986/87 Mansfield finished comfortably above mid-table in Division 3, but the season will be remembered for the win at Wembley in May 1987 in the final of the Freight Rover Trophy. The Stags beat Bristol City on penalties, after a 1-1 draw with a goal from Kevin Kent. The winning penalty was scored by Tony Kenworthy. The win delighted the Stags fans in a crowd of over 58,000, the largest crowd ever to watch a Stags game. It was estimated that 20-25,000 Stags fans were at Wembley on that memorable day. And more than 10,000 Stags fans turned out on the streets of Mansfield the following day to cheer their heroes on an open-top bus.
Wembley itself was a special place Greaves. He had played there in the 1958 FA Cup final and it meant so much to him that every cup final after that was special to him. He told the CHAD: “On the morning of FA Cup finals my wife has been known to have a good laugh at me. For it is the one day in the year when I feel as though I want to play again. I treat the day as extremely special. I've even been known to go and fetch my cup final strip on the Saturday morning. To people who know me that will sound incredible, but that is the effect of Wembley, and being closely involved in a match there, can have on you.”
In the 1987/88 season, the Stags remained in Division 3, though had started to slide down the table alarmingly towards the end of the season, and it took a memorable 2-1 win over Brentford at Field Mill in the penultimate game of the season to get the side out of trouble, with two goals in the final 5 minutes, one from Kevin Kent and a penalty from Steve Charles. Young defender Simon Coleman established himself in the side at centre-half alongside Foster and had an excellent season. Coleman was later to have a fine career at a higher level.
Early on in the 1988/89 season, Greaves' assistant manager John Jarman left to open a new sports complex in Mansfield Woodhouse. Then in February 1989, with the club just below halfway in Division 3, Greaves left the club and George Foster took over as player-manager. Greaves had been in charge for almost exactly six years.
It was originally reported that Greaves had resigned, though shortly afterwards he told the CHAD: “I have been sacked but I wish good luck to George Foster. I leave Field Mill full of pride with my head held high.” Then in various club histories, it is stated that he resigned. In an interview for the Follow The Yellow Brick Road fanzine in 2004, Greaves finally cleared up to editor Steve Hartshorn that he did indeed resign.
Greaves' final league record as manager of Mansfield Town was Played 274, Won 91, Drawn 90, Lost 94, Goals scored 336, Goals conceded 324.
More importantly however, he had taken over the club as a mid-table Division 4 side, and left it as a Division 3 outfit, and given the club its memorable day at Wembley along the way, as well as leaving a stronger youth set up. He remains the club's longest serving manager, both in terms of years, and number of games.
Ian Greaves will always be remembered as a great Mansfield Town manager. All at Mansfield Town Football Club and the Stags Supporters Association send our condolences to his family.
Ivan Hollett reflects on life of Ian Greaves in a video interview --->
NEW: audio tributes, from 103.2 website from Saturday's Sports show:
http://www.mansfield103.co.uk/sport.php?n=417 - Mark Kearney on being a player under him
http://www.mansfield103.co.uk/sport.php?n=418 - Steve Hartshorn on why the supporters will always regard him as a Stags legend.
http://www.mansfield103.co.uk/sport.php?n=419 - Billy Dearden (about working alongside one of his best friends) .
http://www.mansfield103.co.uk/sport.php?n=420 - Andy Perry (about the club's response to the news) .
Sunday, 11th January
The funeral of Stags managerial legend Ian Greaves takes place near Bolton tomorrow. Greaves, The boss who led the Stags to a Wembley triumph, died a week ago. The service takes place at Christ Church, Heaton, on Monday, at 1.15pm. The Stags Supporters Association (SSA) has sent a floral tribute. Former Stags player and current youth coach Ivan Hollett will be representing MTFC. Hollett was brought to Field Mill by Greaves as youth coach shortly after the Stags 1987 Wembley triumph.
Latest | January 2009