Former Player Remembers: Ian Marshall
Ian said of Leicester City's remarkable 2015/16 campaign:“It has been an absolute dream season. I don’t think it will ever be repeated. It must be so good to be in that changing room and being one of the lads. It’s fantastic. There are no real major stars in the side. They have an absolutely fantastic team spirit. Everyone plays for each other. It’s the team spirit which seems to drive it along. Everybody is playing at the top of their game. The players weren’t household names, but they certainly will be at the end of this season.”
Ian started his career at Everton as a youngster.
“I used to go training at Liverpool on a Tuesday and Everton on a Thursday. I had a choice. It was different then from the academy system of today. When you got to the age of 14 or 15, you had to make a decision about who to sign schoolboy forms with. I’m a Liverpool fan but at the time, Liverpool were the best team in Europe winning everything. I knew that I wanted to become a professional footballer but it was going to be much more difficult to break into Liverpool’s team than Everton’s so I chose Everton. It was a big choice because it was the heyday of Everton. Howard Kendall was the manager. He was the best manager I ever had. He taught me an awful lot as did the coaching staff there.
“Everton won the league twice, the FA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup when I was there. I was very fortunate to play with some great players. I had a season with Gary (Lineker) when I was a young lad of 18. ‘Links’ was a great finisher. I actually roomed with him on his first-ever game for Everton, the game at Leicester. He’d just been transferred from Leicester to Everton. Leicester won the game 3-1. It was a funny old day.
“It was a good time to be at Everton. I learnt an awful lot from Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray who were both there. I was a tall centre-forward and they taught me how to elbow people in the nose!
“Because of the Heysel disaster, Everton missed out on Europe which meant that English clubs were banned. I was just breaking into the team at that time and the Football League, in their wisdom, invented the Super Cup for the English teams who qualified to play in European competitions in the 1985/86 season, but were unable to play because of the ban. The top teams in the old First Division like Manchester United and Liverpool took part. I ended up playing in the Super Cup and we finished runners-up in to Liverpool.”
In March 1998, Ian signed for Oldham Athletic, making over 200 appearances for them in the next five years, as they rose to the Premier league and reached the 1990 FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
“I went to Oldham basically because I was a young lad and Everton were doing really well. I had been converted from a striker to a central defender and they went out and bought Dave Watson from Norwich. He took my position. I wasn’t getting a game. I was too old at 21 not to be playing regular first-team football. Then Oldham’s manager, the ex-Evertonian Joe Royle, came in for me. I had a fantastic time there. We got to the Premier League. When I first went there we had gates of about 3,500. When we won the old Second Division Championship we had 18,500. I played and scored in the semi-final against Manchester United. We should have won it. Great days.” In August 1993 Ian moved to Premier League club Ipswich Town for a fee of £750,000.
“I moved because I wanted to play centre-forward and the Ipswich Town manager, John Lyall – another fantastic bloke who is sadly not with us anymore – wanted me to play up front, so I went there. I repaid his faith in me because I scored 38 goals in 80 games. We weren’t a great team as we were struggling in the Premier League, so it was quite a good achievement. I learnt an awful lot from John Lyall.”
After three years at Portman Road, Ian then signed for Martin O’Neill’s Premier League Leicester City. The fee was £800,000, rising to nearly £900,000.
“I remember getting a call from Leicester just after the season had started. I had played for Ipswich in the first round of the League Cup and then I was told Leicester were interested in me. So I went to meet Martin. We had a chat and we eventually came to an agreement. I had loved playing for Ipswich and loved living in that area. I’m living there now. It was a bit of a tough decision to move. The fact Leicester were in the Premier League made it easier. When I went I’d already played this League Cup game so sadly for me, I was ruled out of Leicester’s League Cup-winning final later in the season against Middlesbrough as I was cup-tied. That was a bit of a sickener for me.”
One of the highlights of Ian’s time at Filbert Street was his hat-trick against Derby County in February 1997.
“That was a great feeling. We had quite a weakened team that day. There was a lot of illness going round. To be fair, I didn’t feel great. It just goes to show. I scored a hat-trick in 21 minutes and I was feeling under the weather. It was amazing, especially as it was against local rivals Derby.”
Another highlight was Ian’s opening goal in the two-legged UEFA Cup tie against Atlético Madrid in September 1997.
“The sad thing was that we really did deserve to win both games. We old players still talk about it when we get together. We played really, really well. We deserved to win it. We did think before the tie that Atlético’s name was written on the cup and they did go on to win it in the end. They had some really great players, but we suffered from some really dodgy refereeing decisions. Looking back it was a disappointment because we felt slightly cheated!”
The following season, Ian scored a memorable winner at Anfield.
“Scoring at Anfield had been my dream. As a child I’d always wanted to score at the Kop end, but wearing the Liverpool kit! The next best thing was to score against the team I had supported as a kid. Scoring the winner for Leicester in front of the Kop, and the goal coming so late on, was a fantastic feeling. It was funny because three or four of my Liverpool mates were up in the stands. I knew exactly where they were sitting. They spoke to me before the kick off and told me we were going to get battered. As soon as I scored I ran up to them to celebrate. It was quite funny!
“I also scored for Leicester against Everton a couple of times equalising on both occasions in 1-1 draws. I used to enjoy playing against Everton. When I was at Oldham I scored a few. It was a happy hunting ground for me up there. Hopefully it will be the same for Vardy and the other lads this week against Everton.”
At Leicester, Ian suffered his fair share of injuries.
“A very good thing about football today is that players are looked after a lot better than we were. The coaches and the physios now know a lot more about players. I’m a tall lad and I played on a plastic pitch at Oldham for three or four years. It’s taken its toll now. My hips, knees and back are shot. Back then you were not looked after as you are now. Pre-season was bizarre. Everyone was expected to run the same distance and at the same pace. If you were 33, you were supposed to be running with an 18-year-old. Now, everyone has their own training regime and everyone does their own special programme. Back then because you were not looked after as well as you should have been, you did get injuries. Now it would be a lot different.”
It was after recovering from an injury lay-off that Ian memorably scored two goals in the League Cup quarter-final against Fulham in January 2000.
Leicester were 2-0 down with six minutes to go. Marshall and Walsh scored in the 85th and 87th minute making it 2-2. Fulham scored early in extra time, Marshall equalised, and Leicester went on to win the penalty shoot-out 3-0 before going on to lift the trophy at Wembley the following month.
Ian remembered: “We were 2-0 down because of a horrendous back pass from Walshy! He didn’t look like he had his groin strain when he was marauding up front in the 119th minute! I’d been out injured for quite a while so was pleased to be picked. I ended up playing 120 minutes and was so exhausted at the end I felt that I was too shattered for the penalty shoot-out. Fortunately I wasn’t needed! For one goal, the ball squirmed out to me and I remember hitting it and it creeping into the bottom corner. The other one was a scissor kick, but not a Wayne Rooney one! More like a granny’s scissor kick! Walshy’s was a great goal. That’s the measure of the lad. He makes a real howler and he came back determined to make amends... and he did.”
After leaving Leicester City in August 2000, Ian had spells at Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool before retiring in 2002. Nowadays, he is still a familiar figure on matchdays, working as a host at King Power Stadium.
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