Former Player Remembers: Ian Ormondroyd
Ian’s early career saw him play for both his home town Bradford City and for Oldham Athletic, for whom he appeared in the 1987 Play-Offs for a place in the top division. In 1989 he transferred to Aston Villa and was a member of Graham Taylor’s side which were runners-up in the old First Division in 1990.
Following his two-and-a-half years at Villa Park, he signed for Derby County in September 1991, before moving to Filbert Street six months later for a then Club record equaling fee of £350,000. Ian then played in nearly 100 games for Brian Little’s Leicester City, in their three successive Play-Off seasons for a place in the Premier League.
Speaking about his move to Leicester City Ian remembered: “Derby’s new owner Lionel Pickering wanted to sign Leicester’s Paul Kitson. Arthur Cox (Derby’s manager) told me that they wanted to swap me and Phil Gee for Paul. I was doing well at Derby, playing and scoring goals and I said I didn’t want to leave, but they literally pushed me out saying I had to go as I wouldn’t be playing.
"Me and Phil went to see Brian Little at his house. We each had a chat with him for about 20 minutes. He said he wanted us and we signed the next day. It was all a bit weird but in the end we finished up doing better than Derby for the next two or three years, beating them at Wembley in 1994.”
Ian played in Leicester City’s remaining 17 games that season which culminated in a Wembley Play-Off Final against Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers for a place in the newly formed Premier League.
“When we arrived at Leicester (in March) they were slipping down the table. It was a transition period. Brian was trying to change it round a bit and freshen it up, with other new players (Simon Grayson, Colin Hill and Mike Whitlow) arriving. We had a big squad, which was good in some ways but bad in others. There was a lot of competition for places but it worked well because we had a good set of honest lads who got on well together.
“I was the sort of player that even if I wasn’t in the team, I didn’t want the team to lose. Brian had a lot of lads who didn’t moan and groan if they weren’t in the team. Instead they trained and played hard, trying to get back in. It’s a good mentality to have and that was a main reason we got to three successive Play-Off finals. You aren’t always going to get on with everybody though.
"The only player I fell out with was Jimmy Willis who used to kick me in training every week! These things happen but we all got on well. We went out socially and had this massive team spirit. Brian and his management team John Gregory and Allan Evans were good at building that.”
At the end of Ian’s first season, Leicester City beat John Beck’s Cambridge United 5-0 at Filbert Street in the second leg of the Play-Off Semi-Final, with Ian scoring one of the goals.
“They were all about long balls and playing in the corners. At their place it had been 1-1. They had Steve Claridge and Dion Dublin up front and they were good players. We just tried to snuff them out and with Steve Walsh at centre-half you had a good chance as he was such a good player. He had a good battle with Dion.
“Before the final against Blackburn at Wembley Brian told us that it was referee George Courtney’s last ever game. He said that he was renowned for giving penalties and that he would give one that day. He told us to make sure it was for us and not them. Of course David Speedie won the penalty. It wasn’t a penalty! Steve Walsh is adamant to this day that he never touched him. Speedie fell over Walshy’s leg and dived theatrically. We lost 1-0.”
The following year Leicester City reached the Play-Offs again. Ian scored in the second leg of the semi-final in a 2-2 draw against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, following the Foxes’ victory in the first leg when Julian Joachim scored an unforgettably stunning goal – a game which was played at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground due to redevelopment at Filbert Street.
“The atmosphere in those games was phenomenal. It gave you a massive buzz. A Portsmouth fan I know always tells me my tap-in goal was offside. The referee was Roger Milford who always liked me for some reason. We’d have a bit of banter. I think I probably was offside but it counted. We got a bit of stick leaving Fratton Park!”
Leicester City went 3-0 down in the Wembley final against Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon Town, pulled it back to 3-3 and then lost to a late controversial penalty.
“The next season we had to go again. It was all about the characters in the dressing room. We had a lot of lads with a lot of spirit. There were no superstars. They were all genuine lads.”
At the end of the season, Leicester City reached their third successive Wembley Final. Following a 0-0 draw at Prenton Park, the Foxes beat John Aldridge’s Tranmere Rovers 2-1 in the second leg in front of a capacity Filbert Street crowd. For the third successive year, Ian scored in the semi-final.
“Right at the end of the game, their goalkeeper Eric Nixon wasn’t happy about being fouled by Speedie (now a Leicester Player) who preventing Nixon from catching the ball, which led to the second goal. With seconds to go, there was a flare up, Nixon chased Speedie half-way round the field and they both got sent off.
“In the Final against Derby, Brian put myself, Iwan Roberts and Steve Walsh up front. We were surprised as we thought Brian would play two of us. Steve had been out injured for six months. Iwan was returning from injury. I played on the left of the three. It worked on the day. Tommy Johnson should have scored two or three for them and they were the better side.
"I had a role in the winning goal. Simon (Grayson) crossed it. I headed it and thought it was in. The goalkeeper made a decent save and Walshy tapped in the rebound with four minutes to go. It didn’t bother me that I hadn’t scored. The squad wasn’t about individuals. It was about the team and we had won.”
Back in the Premier League, the team struggled and in November, Brian Little and his management team walked out of the Club to manage Aston Villa.
“It was a shame that Brian left. He liked me and I liked him. The new manager Mark McGhee didn’t want me from the word go. It was only going to be a matter of time before I went. I went out on loan to Hull City but then he brought me back for a game against Wimbledon. Then he dropped me after this one game and left me out for the rest of the season. It annoyed me. I could have still been playing for Hull. At the end of the season I was desperate to get away. Not because of the Club, but because of the manager.”
Although troubled with painful ankles (which eventually necessitated two big ankle fusion operations after he had finished playing), Ian went back to his former clubs for a season each at Bradford City (and another Wembley Play-Off victory) and Oldham Athletic, before finishing his career at Scunthorpe United.
Looking back over his career, Ian concluded, “I played for 13-and-a-half years and it was great. As Graham Taylor used to say, I was never a player who was pleasing to the eye like (Aston Villa’s) Tony Daley. At 6’4” tall I looked awkward sometimes but you need to be judged by what you actually do rather than by how you look!”
Ian is now a Community Foundation Manager at Bradford City.
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