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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us