Obituary: Terry Hibbitt

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The Independent Online
Terence Hibbitt, footballer: born Bradford, Yorkshire 1 December 1947, played Leeds United 1965-71, Newcastle United 1971-75 and 1978-81, Birmingham City 1975-78; Manager, Gateshead 1986-87; died Newcastle upon Tyne 4 August 1994.

AS ONE known for a stoical, self- deprecating wit, Terry Hibbitt might have enjoyed seeing himself bracketed with Bobby Moore as the second of Sir Alf Ramsey's captains to have died in the past 18 months, writes Phil Shaw.

Hibbitt, who led Birmingham City during Ramsey's short-lived return to club football, would have been the first to admit that he lacked the physique and perhaps temperament for the international game. But in the context of club football in the 1970s, when what were euphemistically termed ball- winners often staffed the England midfield, his was an elegant and underrated talent.

At Leeds United, the 5ft 7in Hibbitt, initially regarded as a left- winger, tended to be wispish rather than waspish, and it was his misfortune to find the likes of Terry Cooper and Eddie Gray emerging simultaneously.

At Newcastle in the early Seventies, the marauding Malcolm Macdonald took the headlines, but it was Hibbitt's sweet left foot that created many of his scoring opportunities. While at Birmingham in 1975-78 Hibbitt's precision passing also benefited Trevor Francis.

Meanwhile, Hibbitt's younger brother, Kenny, had established a tenacious presence in Wolves' midfield (a combination of their qualities would have made for a strong England candidate). Following a 'derby' in 1977, when Terry hit Birmingham's winner, the scoreline in one newspaper read: 'Hibbitt City 2 Hibbitt Wanderers 1'.

When Hibbitt returned to Newcastle in 1978, the club were in a trough between the departure of 'Supermac' and the arrival of Kevin Keegan. Chris Waddle, fresh from the sausage factory, was one of the young players in whose development Hibbitt helped as club captain before injury ended a career spanning 400 League matches.

(Photograph omitted)