Ivor Broadis, who was at the time of his death, the oldest living England football internationalist, packed a lot of living into his 96 years.
Born on the Isle of Dogs, in London’s East End, he was already being noticed as a footballer, signing for Tottenham Hotspur, when he was called up into the RAF during the Second World War. He qualified as a navigator, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, but, although he saw active service in Wellington and Lancaster bombers he was never involved in the bombing raids over Germany.
It was while he was being registered by Tottenham that his given name of Ivan was wrongly changed to Ivor, and, the new name stuck.
A posting to RAF Crosby-in-Eden, which is now the Carlisle and the Lakes Airport, saw him turn professional with Carlisle United. Aged 23, he became the youngest player-manager in football. So well did he play that he was, in 1949, forced to negotiate his own transfer to Sunderland, for £18,000.
He always said that this was a blessing in disguise since he continued to live and train in Carlisle. While the rest of the Sunderland players endured the boring training of those days, endless laps of the park, he, with his successor as Carlisle boss, a certain Bill Shankly, were working with a ball in one-on-one sessions.
Shankly always claimed he made Broadis an England player – Broadis didn’t fully agree, but acknowledged how Shankly made him think differently about football and fitness, and installed the work ethic needed to reach the top.
In 1951, Manchester City paid £25,000 to take him to Maine Road, and it was with City that he won the bulk of his 14 England caps. He scored eight goals for England, a better goals per game return than many out and out strikers. His England goals included the only one in the 7-1 loss to Hungary in Budapest and two against Belgium during that year’s World Cup Finals in Switzerland.
He was in Switzerland as a Newcastle United player, having moved to St James’ Park for £20,000 in 1953. However, his time there ended badly, in 1955. He fell out with the trainer and was not included in their 1955 FA Cup-winning team. In July of that year he returned to Carlisle in a player-coach role.
Broadis spent four years at Brunton Park, being chosen three times for the Third Division Select during that period, before crossing the border to play out his career at Palmerston Park, with Queen of the South. “The happiest time of my career,” he later admitted.
He might have played on as Hearts wanted to sign him but he had already decided to quit when with Queens.
That was not the end of his relationship with football, however. While at Manchester City, he had written some pieces for the Manchester Evening News and in retirement from playing, he started his own football reporting agency, based in Carlisle, later being joined by son Mike and daughter Gillian.
During the rollercoaster ride of the rise and fall of Gretna FC, Mike was a familiar figure in the Rydale Park press box, but, occasionally Ivor would honour the press corps with his presence.
How enjoyable it was to share work space with a man who had played alongside the likes of Billy Wright, Stanley Matthews, Len Shackleton, Jackie Milburn and Bert Trautmann and against the likes of George Young, Bobby Evans, Willie Woodburn, Lawrie Reilly and Billy Steel.
He was a living legend but essentially a kind and humble gentleman who was a joy to get to know. Ivor continued to write about football well into his 80s.
He was awarded the Freedom of Carlisle but, following the death of his beloved Janet, whom he had married in 1948, he moved in with Gillian.
The death in February in Greece of Mike, himself no mean football writer, was a heavy blow to Ivor, who is survived by Gillian and her family.
Ivor Broadis was a great footballer – he was also a first-class gentleman.