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Micky Chapman - A remarkable Achievement

6 years ago By Gary Keyzor

In January 1981 a promising young striker with Beccles Town in the Anglian Combination attracted the attention of the then Lowestoft Town manager Jimmy Moran

and he signed for the Blues making his debut in an Eastern Counties League fixture against Braintree & Crittall Athletic (1-1) on 31st January 1981. His stay would last for just 3 games.

A couple of seasons later (1982-1983) the newly installed manager Paul Chick persuaded Chapman to return to the Crown Meadow and he made his second ‘debut’ on 29th January 1983 away to Ely City (5-0). His first goal would come 2 games later away to March Town United (2-3). Even from those early days his passion and commitment to his hometown club was clearly apparent for all to see and he seemed destined to become the manager at some time in the future. He quickly progressed from promising striker to club captain, assistant manager (1992), caretaker manager in January 1994 and finally confirmed as manager in the summer of 1994.

As a player he would go on to make a total of 480 competitive appearances for the first team scoring 193 goals – a strike rate of better than a goal every three games. He also played a further 36 games for the Reserves. A persistent back injury denied him the chance of taking his appearance record even higher but he still remains as the clubs 5th highest appearance maker.

For three and a half seasons he was the player manager but his back problem would see him play in only 53 of the 175 games he was in charge of before finally hanging up his boots. His final appearance on the pitch was a cameo performance as he came off the bench in the closing minute of an Eastern Counties League game against March Town United on 29th March 1997 but he ended in style by putting in the cross for Alan Barnard to head in the final goal in the Blues 10-0 victory.

As a player Chapman’s only trophy success was an Eastern Counties League Cup winners medal in a 2-1 victory over Gt Yarmouth Town in season 1983-84. That would be the club’s only silverware for over 20 years as successive managers Paul Chick, Marty Hubble (caretaker manager), David Mower, Jimmy Campbell, Laurie Sivell (caretaker manager) and Colwyn Rowe all failed to bring a return to the club’s glory days of the 1960s and 1970s.

His first full season in charge (1994-95) saw him face the sort of tragedy you would not wish on any one. Prior to the start of the season he had signed close friend Peter Munro to give his side greater strike power and the move seemed to have worked as the goals for column showed a healthy increase. Munro though was beset by personal problems and took his own life at the end of March 1995. With the Eastern Counties League refusing permission to postpone the game away to March Town United on 1st April 1995 Chapman was faced with the task of breaking the news to his team mates on the way to Cambridgeshire, choosing to wear the number 9 shirt himself in the goalless draw in a game which neither side seemed to have an appetite for.

Those early years as manager saw a gradual improvement in the clubs performances but without any sight of silverware and he came under some intense pressure. Whilst nobody doubted his commitment many were unsure whether he had the ability to bring success back to the club. One former secretary would write to the club on many occasions urging the club to sack him and bring in someone better qualified. In January 1996 Chapman was summoned to a meeting of a sub committee when his future would be determined. The Club had had played just 1 game in 5 weeks due to excessively wet weather and with no training facilities available hastily arranged a friendly away to Eastern Counties League first division side Swaffham Town. That game saw the Blues lose 2-3 which was the last straw in some people’s eyes. Chapman was called into that meeting with a temporary replacement lined up to take charge of the following game but Chapman backed totally by Chairman Roy Harper won the day and remained in charge. What the future would have brought had he been dismissed will never be known but with both chairman and secretary ready to resign in protest the club would have been left in turmoil.

The new millennium finally brought the breakthrough that Chapman had been striving for as a late Sean Norman penalty saw Lowestoft lift the Suffolk Premier Cup with a single goal victory over Mildenhall Town in April 2000 and bring the first silverware for 16 years. That victory saw the start of the current run of success which brought the first League title for 28 years, the first League Cup success for 16 years, the first County Cup for 20 years. The 11 years of the current millennium have seen the Blues win 8 trophies, 2 promotions, a Wembley F A Vase final, a Vase semi final and reach the first round proper of the F A Cup.

On Tuesday 21st February at Ram Meadow Bury ST Edmunds he is due to take charge of his 1000th game as manager Micky Chapman has been involved in no fewer that 1463 games for Lowestoft Town in an unbroken career of 30 seasons during which he has never asked for nor been offered a contract such is his commitment to the club and the support he has received from successive chairmen.

Where next?

Terry Lynes Club Notes 03/02/2012 It has been a mixed week for the Blues again with an excellent victory over Wealdstone on Saturday followed by a disappointing defeat by Kingstonian on Monday.
Trawlerboys Membership Applications 2011/12 Applications for Trawlerboys membership will close on 29th February. There is enough merchandise for another 15 members.

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