Following on from our interview with ex-Leicester City, Manchester United and Iran boss Frank O’Farrell is a message from Frank in reply to us sending him a letter of thanks and a copy of The Fox…
“Many thanks for sending me a copy of The Fox.
The article on me turned out well and I’m pleased to learn it was enjoyed by all.
I’ve recently come back from Preston where I was celebrating Tom Finney’s 90th birthday along with the few players who are now left who had played with him.
I send my best wishes to all my friends in Leicester and will continue to watch City’s results hoping that next season will be a fruitful one with a return to the top tier of English football…
It was nice meeting you,
FOX: In the middle of that Championship season you had Peter Shilton in dispute with the club and then it was resolved and you went on a fantastic run to the end of the season. What happened there?
FO’F: We talked to him a lot. I really didn’t want to let him go, no bloody way in the middle of a season. You never know what has got to a player. They may have been tapped up, they may be short of money. He was worried about playing in the Second Division, but my priority was success for the club and I wasn’t letting him go. I had to let him know that I really meant it and I think I won that altercation. Although he was in dispute with us and would rather have been somewhere else at that point he always gave his best, never fluffed the job. That was one thing I admired about him.
If I had stayed longer I would probably have ended up selling him, having had time to find a replacement. He would have commanded a big fee which could have been used elsewhere in the team. He was a disruption at times, but I did quite like him. When he came down to Plymouth I went over to say hello to him.
I could see his side of it, he was very ambitious. I said to him: “If you are the best goalkeeper then Alf Ramsey will pick you.” And he did.
FOX: How did you get on with George Best?
FO’F: He was a smashing person, a really likeable person. I liked him more than some of the people you feel you should like more. His shortcomings hung out for all to see, but he was so engaging and bright and was no trouble in training, when he was actually there. He’d stay after training to do some more shooting. But you never knew if he would turn up the next day. I’d have him in the office and he’d be: “Yes boss, no boss, three bags full boss.” And then he’d just go out and do the same thing the next week. Then the other players would moan about him.
One week we played Wolves and George had been missing all week. His landlady rang up to say that he had returned from Ireland and could play. What George didn’t know was that I’d been to his parents house in Ireland that week and he certainly wasn’t there. It was the time of the troubles and I had thought that maybe if we brought his parents over he could live with them and that might cure his instability.
George had agreed this was a good idea so I’d gone over to Ireland discuss the club buying a house for them in Manchester. The club were so dependent on him having a stable life.
So when his landlady rang and said he’d been in Ireland with his parents I knew he had lied to me and there was no way I could play him. I dropped him for a home game against Wolves and we lost 2-0. They just weren’t good enough without him. The club was in a fragile state and it took a long time for them to recover. They had to go down to the Second Division under Tommy Docherty to rebuild.
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