Obituary: Eddie Quigley

Click to follow
He never cut the most athletic of figures on the football field, but that didn't stop Eddie Quigley becoming, for a time, the most expensive player in the history of the British game.

In fact, the burly Lancastrian belied his ponderous appearance and misleadingly languid air to become one of the most proficient and sought-after goal- scorers of the post-war era, arguably deserving more international recognition than the two England "B" caps which went his way. In some ways Quigley was ahead of his time, a deep-lying, deep- thinking marksman blessed with subtle passing skills, the type of operator destined to become fashionable in the mid-1950s, when his playing days were drawing to a close.

He began his career in 1941 with his home-town club, Bury, as a full- back but his destiny became clear one day at Millwall when, switched to centre- forward, he scored five goals. Thereafter Quigley remained in the front line - either as spearhead or, more often, as an inside-forward - and soon caught the eye of more fashionable clubs.

In October 1947 he joined Sheffield Wednesday for pounds 12,000, going on to score freely for two years, but it was his next move which catapulted Quigley into the headlines. When he switched to Preston North End in December 1949, the fee was pounds 26,500, a British transfer record.

The idea was that he would forge a stylish partnership with the marvellous Tom Finney but, in a footballing sense, the two never gelled. Thus, after helping Preston to lift the Second Division title in 1951, he moved on again, this time to Blackburn Rovers - his fourth Division Two club - for pounds 20,000.

At Ewood Park, Quigley hit prime form, flourishing especially under the attacking regime of the manager Johnny Carey, and netting 95 times in 166 senior outings before returning to Bury for his last campaign, as a 35-year-old in 1956.

Always a serious student of the game, Quigley appeared ideal management material and duly he spent six years learning his trade with non-League Mossley. Then, in 1962, he returned to Football League ranks as Bury's youth coach and chief scout, unearthing such talents as Colin Bell and Alec Lindsay, both of whom would go on to play for England.

Quigley's first berth as a boss was at Stockport, where he moved in April 1966, remaining at Edgeley Park for just six months during which he did much of the spadework towards County's Fourth Division title triumph of 1966/67. However, by the time the trophy was presented, he had departed to Blackburn, where he became chief coach and assistant manager to Jack Mansell, who was soon to resign.

After a brief spell as caretaker, during which Rovers narrowly missed promotion to the First Division, Quigley was confirmed as fully fledged boss in April 1967. He had earned a reputation as a shrewd tactician and much was expected of him, but the next two terms proved frustrating, with promising starts followed by springtime fade-outs.

Come 1970, with the team struggling, Quigley swapped jobs with the general manager Carey. True, he had responsibility for scouting and the youth system but he was never happy in a mainly administrative role, preferring the day-to-day involvement with the senior side. At the end of 1970/71, against a background of severe financial constraint, Blackburn were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history and both Carey and Quigley were sacked.

The latter, who had been criticised for being over-reliant on blackboard theory, returned to the fray as manager of Stockport in 1976 and derived enormous satisfaction when his comparatively humble charges knocked Blackburn out of the League Cup at Ewood Park. Sadly, a slump followed and he was sacked in 1977. Quigley went on to scout for Blackburn, under Howard Kendall, and Blackpool before retiring in the early 1980s.

Ivan Ponting

Edward Quigley, footballer and manager: born Bury, Lancashire 13 July 1921; played for Bury 1941-47, Sheffield Wednesday 1947-49, Preston North End 1949-51, Blackburn Rovers 1951-56, Bury 1956, managed Stockport County 1966 and 1976-77, Blackburn Rovers 1967-70; married (one son, one daughter); died Blackpool 18 April 1997.