Morecambe trio’s links to World Cup

Former Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy went on to manage Northern Ireland having represented them at two World Cups.
Former Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy went on to manage Northern Ireland having represented them at two World Cups.
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Morecambe FC have more connections to the world’s greatest football competition than you might think.

Ahead of the World Cup starting in Brazil on Thursday night here’s a rundown of three Shrimps figures who have featured on the grandest stage of them all.

Ronnie Clayton

Clayton spent 19 years at Blackburn Rovers before becoming Morecambe’s player-manager in 1969.

He won 35 caps for England between 1955 and 1960 and was part of the squad that went to the World Cup in Sweden in 1958, playing in one match during the tournament. He also captained both Blackburn and England during his career.

After leaving his post at Christie Park in 1970 he had a brief spell at Great Harwood Town before retiring from the game. He died in 2010 and a year later one of the stands at Ewood Park was renamed in his honour.

Keith Newton

The former Blackburn, Everton and Burnley full back briefly came out of retirement to play for the Shrimps in the late 1970s.

Keith began his career with Blackburn Rovers before moving to Everton in 1969 where he was part of the side that won the First Division title in 1970.

His domestic success earned him a place in Alf Ramsey’s England squad that would defend their crown in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Newton played in three games in the tournament and earned the distinction of being the first England player to be substituted at a World Cup when he was replaced by Tommy Wright after 51 minutes of the opening group game against Romania.

He also assisted both of England’s goals in the 3-2 quarter final defeat to West Germany.

Keith moved to Burnley in 1972 where he saw out his career, retiring in 1978 at the age of 37. He did however make a comeback with the Shrimps and Clitheroe before retiring for good. He died in 1998.

Sammy Mcllroy

Morecambe’s promotion-winning manager, McIlroy enjoyed a playing career in the top flight that spanned over a decade, including winning the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1977.

He also won 88 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring five goals. He played in all of his country’s matches in the 1982 World Cup when Northern Ireland famously beat Spain to advance to the second round.

McIlroy was also captain for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico before later becoming national team manager between 2000 and 2003, winning five of his 29 matches in charge.