Ivor Powell: Dynamic wing-half who became the world's oldest coach

 

For more than three-quarters of a century Ivor Powell was a passionate, wise, prodigiously energetic bundle of football dynamism. As a bitingly combative, deftly skilful, endlessly industrious wing-half with Queen's Park Rangers, Aston Villa and Wales in the immediate postwar years, then as a manager and eventually as the world's oldest working coach – a status ratified by the Guinness Book of Records when he was 90, in 2006 – he dedicated his professional life to the game he adored.

Born in a South Wales coal-mining community, Ivor Verdun Powell – his middle name was a reference to the First World War battle raging at the time of his arrival – was the seventh son of a seventh son who, in his early teens, followed his father and brothers down a local pit to begin making his living. Though reared in a rugby union heartland, he gravitated instinctively to the round-ball code, and was recruited by QPR of the Third Division (South) from his local club, Bargoed, as an amateur in 1935.

He turned professional two years later and made his senior debut as a ball-winning, attacking midfielder in January 1939, only for the momentum of his fledgling career to be halted by the outbreak of war. Powell served as an RAF physical training instructor in India and Burma, although for a time he was stationed at Blackpool, where he guested for the Seasiders and became a close friend of the most famous footballer in the world at the time, Stanley Matthews, who acted as best man at his wedding in 1943. Amid his military activities there was also an international breakthrough – he made four appearances for Wales in unofficial wartime fixtures.

At war's end Powell matured rapidly into a QPR bulwark, aggressive and determined, intelligent in his use of the ball, a long-throw expert and a sparky presence in the dressing room. Even though he was playing his football in the third tier, it was no surprise when he was called up for the first of his eight full caps, out of position at inside-left in the 3-0 defeat by England at Maine Road, Manchester, in November 1946.

Meanwhile Powell was hitting new heights with his club, central to Rangers' promotion as divisional champions in 1947-48, and although he had entered his thirties it didn't deter top-flight Aston Villa from signing him for £17,500, a record for a wing-half, midway through the following season. Powell flourished at Villa Park, instrumental in reversing a slide towards relegation in his first season then taking on the captaincy and not missing a match in 1949-50 before knee injuries began to take their toll.

In August 1951, now 35, he was appointed player-manager of Port Vale, where his authoritative approach was not universally welcomed, and his contract was terminated four months later when Vale were bottom of the Third Division (South). Still management beckoned, and after a brief stint turning out for non-League Barry Town, Powell accepted the reins of Third Division (North) Bradford City in June 1952, as player-manager.

For two seasons he was hugely influential, lifting the team from 16th in the table in his first season to fifth in his second, but when a knee injury forced him to give up playing in 1954, the fortunes of the impecunious Bantams declined. Fans resented his sale of favourites such as winger Derek Hawksworth, some players disliked his stern discipline, and in February 1955, shortly before City had to apply for re-election to the League, he was replaced by Peter Jackson.

In 1956 Powell started a four-year tenure as a trainer-coach with Leeds United, working with the likes of Don Revie in his pre-management days, as well as Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner, before taking charge of Carlisle United, whom he led from the Fourth Division in 1961-62. The cash-strapped North-westerners struggled badly at the higher level, though, and he departed in February 1963 after a humbling FA Cup defeat by non-League Gravesend and Northfleet. There followed several years at the helm of Southern League Bath City and a brief spell coaching the Greek side PAOK. Then in the early 1970s he began coaching at Bath University, where he remained active for nearly four decades until his 94th year.

Powell proved inspirational with youngsters, tirelessly stressing his five-point mantra for success: aggression, determination, will to win, industry and consistency. In 2004 he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame. His Guinness accolade followed two years later and he was awarded the MBE in 2008, finally laying aside his boots in 2010. The university has set up the Ivor Powell Sports Scholarship Fund, a fitting monument to a remarkable man.

Ivan Ponting

Ivor Verdun Powell, footballer and coach; born Gilfach, near Bargoed, Glamorgan 5 July 1916; played for Queen's Park Rangers 1937-48, Aston Villa 1948-51, capped eight times by Wales 1946-50; player-manager Port Vale 1951-52, Bradford City 1952-55; managed Carlisle United 1960-63; MBE 2008; married (deceased; one son, one daughter); died Bath 5 November 2012.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering