Reg Pickett: Footballer who won the League with Portsmouth

Reg Pickett, a League champion with Portsmouth in 1950 and captain of Ipswich Town when they lifted the Second Division title in 1961, was a football manager's delight. Essentially a wing-half both dynamic and skilful, he was also a highly versatile all-rounder capable of filling any midfield or attacking role.

Off the pitch he was a powerful and wholesome influence, a pillar of integrity always ready to advise youngsters, heedless of the fact that in nurturing the new generation he was hastening his own departure. In an age when a contract with even a top club did not offer financial security for life, such altruism was far from universal.

Pickett was born in India, where his father was serving in the Army, then moved to England with his family when he was three months old. He attracted the attention of leading clubs 8playing for Western League Weymouth and it was Portsmouth who pounced, paying £750 for his signature early in 1949, a few months before they became champions of England for the first time.

The 22-year-old wasn't deployed during that triumphant campaign, but he was entrusted with the left-half slot at home to Derby County in October 1949 when the regular incumbent, the stylish Jimmy Dickinson, was away on England duty. Pickett proved efficient in a 3-1 victory, and a week later he was handed the No 8 shirt because inside-right Duggie "Thunderboots" Reid was injured.

Soon there was another chance to show his versatility when left winger Jack Froggatt was absent, and in the spring Pickett played 10 successive games, first deputising for Reid and then for inside-left Len Phillips, as Pompey strove to retain their title in a remarkable nine-club battle. In the penultimate game, a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, Pickett was pressed into service in his fifth position of the season in place of sidelined centre-forward Ike Clarke. He missed the tense finale at home to Aston Villa – Pompey won 5-1 to pip Wolves to the title on goal average, the absurdly complicated forerunner of goal difference – but by then had made 14 appearances, the minimum required at the time to qualify for a championship medal.

Pickett was a perceptive passer, a brisk tackler, adept in the air and tactically canny, but for the next few years he remained in the shadows of Dickinson and Jimmy Scoular, two of the most consistent half-backs in the land. Scoular's 1953 transfer to Newcastle United signalled more opportunities, and for several seasons Pickett was in the team more often than out of it, his work particularly impressive as Portsmouth finished third in the table in 1954-55.

In the summer of 1957, now aged 30, he was recruited for £5,000 by Alf Ramsey, manager of Ipswich Town, who were freshly promoted to the second tier. The future England manager, a shrewd judge of character, soon made him captain to succeed the veteran Doug Rees, and in 1960-61 Pickett was inspirational over the first half of a campaign which ended with the Suffolk side, for which his former Pompey team-mate Ray Crawford struck 40 goals, topping the table.

In the January, however, he had suffered an injury and been replaced by Billy Baxter, 12 years his junior, and once the talented Scot was ensconced in the side there was no shifting him. Thus Pickett enjoyed only a handful of outings as Ipswich stunned the sporting world by winning the League title in 1962, and he was no more than a high-quality reserve the following season, his last at Portman Road.

During that season Ramsey, whose high opinion of Pickett had never altered, called him into his office and revealed that he was thinking over an offer to take charge of his country. The player's reaction was prescient, telling the future Sir Alf: "If you do then you'll win the World Cup!"

In summer 1963 Pickett was released by Ramsey's successor, Jackie Milburn, and he joined Southern League Stevenage Town. Later he worked in the Portsmouth Dockyard, then lived on the Isle of Wight.

Ivan Ponting

Reginald Arthur Pickett, footballer: born Bareilly, India 6 January 1927; played for Portsmouth 1949-57, Ipswich Town 1957-63; died Rowlands Castle, Hampshire 4 November 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tv'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
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
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there