Sammy Chung

Football's Pioneers: Sammy Chung

In the latest edition of Football's Pioneers - in partnership with De Montfort University - Professor Matt Taylor profiles Sammy Chung, the second professional Anglo-Chinese player in England.
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Born in 1932 in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Cyril ‘Sammy’ Chung became the second Anglo-Chinese professional footballer in England (after Leicester City’s Frank Soo). The youngest child of a Chinese father and English mother, Chung signed for Reading in 1951 as an amateur.

He turned professional two years later after completing his National Service and played 22 matches at Elm Park, scoring 12 goals.

In 1955, Chung moved to Norwich City but after a poor second season, in which the Norfolk club finished bottom of the Third Division South, he was transferred to Watford, where he spent the rest of his playing career, notching up over 240 appearances across eight seasons.

Sometimes described as a utility player, Chung played mainly at wing-half and sometimes at centre-forward. Never a prolific goalscorer, he was unfortunate to have one hat-trick ruled out when the match was abandoned due to heavy fog.

For part of his first season at Watford, Chung played alongside two pioneering black players, Roy Brown and Tony Collins, which underlined the Hertfordshire club’s long history of signing minority footballers.

In 1963, Chung was appointed player-coach, assisting first Ron Burgess and then Bill McGarry. With McGarry, Chung took Watford close to promotion to the Second Division in 1963-64 before moving on to Ipswich Town in 1965.

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Sammy Chung
Sammy Chung

At the end of career, Sammy Chung managed Doncaster Rovers.

The duo’s success at Portman Road, where they secured promotion to the top flight in 1967/68, earned them a move in the autumn of 1968 to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

As assistant manager to McGarry, Chung helped guide Wolves to domestic and European success. They reached the first UEFA Cup Final, eventually losing 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur over two legs.

In 1974, the Molineux club lifted the League Cup with a 2-1 victory against Manchester City.

In the close season of 1976, Chung succeeded McGarry as Wolves manager. He took the club back to the top division in his first season in charge. But Wolves struggled in the First Division and, after a poor start to 1978-79 campaign, Chung was dismissed.

He then coached in the United Arab Emirates before joining Mick Mills as assistant manager at Stoke City in 1985 for five years.

A short spell at non-league Tamworth followed in the early 1990s before Chung took on his final managerial post at Doncaster Rovers in 1994. He spent two seasons at Belle Vue, during which time he was profiled by The Guardian as the oldest manager in English professional football.   

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