Shrimps' link to the tournament
With the World Cup fast approaching, MICHAEL GARVEY takes a look at three former players with connections to The Shrimps who have represented their country in the biggest tournament in football.
Ronnie Clayton – England 1958
Clayton spent 19 years at Blackburn Rovers before becoming Morecambe’s player-manager in 1969.
Ronnie won 35 caps for England between 1955 and 1960 and was part of the squad that went to the World Cup in Sweden in 1958, playing in one match during the tournament. He also captained both Blackburn and England during his career.
After leaving his post at Christie Park in 1970 he had a brief spell at Great Harwood Town before retiring from the game. He died in 2010 and a year later one of the stands at Ewood Park was renamed in his honour.
Keith Newton – England 1970
The former Blackburn, Everton and Burnley full back briefly came out of retirement to play for the Shrimps in the late 1970s.
Keith began his career with Blackburn Rovers, making his debut in the 1960/61 season, going onto play over 300 league games for the East Lancashire Club before moving to Everton in 1969 where he was part of the side that won the First Division title in 1970.
His success in the domestic campaign earned him a place in Alf Ramsey’s England squad that would defend their crown in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Newton played in three games in the tournament and earned the distinction of being the first England player to be substituted at a World Cup when he was replaced by Tommy Wright after 51 minutes of the opening group game against Romania. He also assisted both of England’s goals in the 3-2 quarter final defeat to West Germany.
Keith moved to Burnley in 1972 where he saw out his career, retiring in 1978 at the age of 37. He did however make a comeback with the Shrimps and Clitheroe before retiring for good. He died in 1998.
Sammy Mcllroy – Northern Ireland 1982 & 1986
A well-known face at the Globe Arena, Mcllroy enjoyed a playing career in the top flight that spanned over a decade, including winning the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1977.
Sammy also won 88 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring five goals. He played in all of his country’s matches in the 1982 World Cup when Northern Ireland famously beat Spain to advance to the second round. He was also captain for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
He took over as caretaker manager at Christie Park in 2005 after Jim Harvey suffered a heart attack and was given the job on a permanent basis in May 2006. In his first full season he guided The Shrimps into the Football League for the first time with a 2-1 win in the play-off final over Exeter City on that memorable day at Wembley. Over the next few seasons he established Morecambe as a League Two club, reaching the play-offs in 2010 after a 4th place finish in the league during the clubs last season at Christie Park. He departed in 2011 and was replaced by current manager Jim Bentley.