Ian Baraclough

Former Player Remembers: Ian Baraclough

When Ian Baraclough spoke to Club Historian John Hutchinson he reminisced about his playing and coaching career.
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Ian, one of a select band of Leicester City players who went on to manage a national team and who recently awarded Jonny Evans his 100th Northern Ireland cap, started his career with Leicester City’s youth team. 

In the late 1980s Leicester-born Ian, who is currently manager of Northern Ireland, was a member of Dave Richardson’s Leicester City youth team. Ian went on to play over 700 league and cup games for a total of seven clubs. 

“When I was a young lad of about 11, my family moved to Jersey for three years," he began. “We came back to Leicester when I was 15 and I went into the schools programme. I played for the County side against a Leicester City youth team.

“I was spotted and invited to trial for an extended period at Filbert Street. During that time I was offered terms to become what is now known as a scholar. This was in Bryan Hamilton’s time. Dave Richardson was the youth team manager. In the same youth team were Richard Smith, a centre-half who I’d grown up with at Oadby Town, and Paul Kitson. They both had good careers at Leicester.

“I was a striker in those days and Paul was my strike partner. The year after that there were also some very good players in the youth side, such as Des Linton, Des Lyttle, Jason Peake and Scott Oakes. Many went on to make good careers for themselves though not necessarily at Leicester.”

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Ian Baraclough

Baraclough joined the Foxes as a scholar.

Whilst at Leicester, Ian went out on loan to Wigan Athletic and Grimsby Town.

The former Fox explained: “Bryan Hamilton, Wigan’s manager, obviously remembered me from his time at Leicester. I played nine games for them (in what is now League One), scoring a couple of goals. It was a first taste of first-team football for me and it was a real eye opener.

“It gave me a good look at what the lower leagues were about. It was full of men who’d had good careers and were strong players along with some good young players who were making their way in the game.”

After a brief spell at Grimsby, Ian spent the next three years in the old Third Division, playing a combined total of over 120 games for Lincoln City (1992-94) and Mansfield Town (1994/95), where he started to playing midfield or at left-back.

“Mansfield’s manager, Andy King, was a really good man manager who got the best out of me," he continued. “We got to the play-offs and then Notts County, in Division Two, came in for me. In my first year at Meadow Lane we lost at Wembley in the play-offs to Bradford City, but the next year we got relegated!

As I turned the corner into the tunnel, I saw that Vinnie Jones had Georgi Kinkladze by the throat and up against the wall. Razor Ruddock wasn’t too far behind him!

Ian Baraclough

“Sam Allardyce came in as manager towards the end of that season, and the following season was a record breaking one. We were promoted by February and champions by March. It was at this point that I went to Queens Park Rangers. 

“This was one of the first years of the Bosman Ruling which for the first time gave players more of a chance to speak to other clubs. An agent rang me to say that QPR were interested in me and would I be interested in a move? I was in the final year of my contract at Notts, and although Sam had indicated that he wanted me to sign a new deal, I wanted to hear what QPR had to say to me.

“Ray Harford was the manager then. He was a fantastic football man, who unfortunately is not with us anymore. Once I had spoken to him for a couple of hours, (and he really was a man who loved talking football), I decided it as the right place to go. QPR had been relegated from the Premier League and had spent a couple of years trying to get back with their parachute payments.

“There had been a lot of money floating around, but when I was there they were cutting back a little bit. I really enjoyed my football down there. We didn’t have a great deal of success. We were either mid-table or below, but I was playing with some good players such as Gavin Peacock, who had had a fantastic career with Chelsea and Newcastle, Chris Kiwomya, Mike Sheron and Kevin Gallen, who was a legend at QPR.

“Vinnie Jones and Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock came on loan when we needed a run of results to avoid relegation to the third tier. At the end of the season, we played a vital game against relegation rivals Manchester City. Maine Road was full to the rafters. Before the game, I came out of the dressing room. You had to turn a corner before going into the tunnel.

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Ian Baraclough

Playing for Gary Lineker's All Stars against Leicester City.

“I heard this rumpus ahead of me and as I turned the corner into the tunnel, I saw that Vinnie Jones had Georgi Kinkladze by the throat and up against the wall. Razor Ruddock wasn’t too far behind him! Kinkladze then scored in the first minute. (Manchester City’s) Jamie Pollock scored his infamous own goal and it ended 2-2. In the end Manchester City went down and we survived. My time at QPR was really good. I have fond memories of a great club.”

Whilst playing for QPR, Ian made a return to Filbert Street as a member of Gary Lineker’s All Stars team which turned out against Leicester City for Alan Birchenall’s Testimonial Match in May 2000.

After three years at Loftus Road, Ian returned to Meadow Lane for another three years, in what was a difficult time as Notts County went into administration. Then, at the age of 32, Ian went to Scunthorpe United.

“Notts County’s manager (the ex-Leicester City player) Gary Mills felt that my better days were probably behind me but in terms of winning things and achievements, I then had the most successful time of my career. 

“Scunthorpe went from League Two through to the Championship. It was during this time that Nigel Adkins the manager asked me and another senior player Andy Crosby to be assistant managers. That got me into my first steps as a coach.”

After a spell as Scunthorpe’s manager, Ian then managed Sligo Rovers in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland.

“In my first year, I managed to win the League of Ireland. It was their first title for 35 years. The following year we won the FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium. The Sligo people went there in their droves. It was an unbelievable game. We were 1-0 down with 15 minutes to go but won 3-2 with a winning goal in the sixth minute of extra time. The following season we won the All Ireland title, winning the Setanta Cup.”

In December 2014 Ian became manager of Scottish Premiership Club Motherwell. He then spent a spell as assistant manager at Oldham Athletic before becoming the Northern Ireland Under-21 manager in 2017. He was then appointed as Northern Ireland manager in June 2020, a position he held until October 2022.

He still keeps close watch on Leicester City’s fortunes and his family have continued to support the Foxes.

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