World Cup Swans | Ivor Allchurch
As the 2022 World Cup in Qatar gets under way this weekend, we take a look at the players with Swansea connections who have featured on the biggest stage.
Today we focus on Ivor Allchurch.
When any list of Swansea’s greatest homegrown talents is put together, the name of Ivor John Allchurch MBE will be among the names to feature.
The ‘Golden Boy’ served club and country with tremendous distinction, and it is his statue which greets a number of supporters then they arrive at the south-west entrance to the Swansea.com Stadium on a matchday.
Allchurch also represented Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Worcester City across a career that extended into a third decade; but there is no denying that the teams and jerseys he is inextricably linked with in the mind’s eye are the white of Swansea City and the red of Wales.
Allchurch’s journey began in earnest when the former Swansea captain Joe Sykes spotted his talent when attending a game at Cwm Level, with the young man who had caught his attention in an under-16 game then did likewise when coming on in an under-18 game.
Sykes quickly reached an agreement with Ivor and his father that the young man would sign for the Swans upon leaving Plasmarl School, and he duly did so, training twice a week with the club while working in the office at Baldwins Foundry.
After his national service was complete, Allchurch wasted little time showing what he could do for his hometown club with one display against top-tier Arsenal in the FA Cup bringing his abilities to a wider audience.
A first cap for Wales arrived in 1951 against England, and there would be 67 more and 25 goals to follow.
Two of those goals would come at the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, with brother Len also part of Jimmy Murphy’s squad for the finals.
Allchurch opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw with Mexico in the group stage, and then Wales’ first in the play-off win over Hungary that sent them into the last eight.
A teenage prodigy named Pele would ensure Brazil ended Wales’ adventure, but Allchurch was among a number of players to return home with their reputations considerably advanced.
Whilst long known as a more-than-reliable goalscorer, his elegance and composure on the ball, and his ability to pick a pass also marked him out as a player of rare gifts.
Newcastle would pay £28,000 to secure his services just a few months later, and he would register 51 goals in 154 games for the Magpies.
A three-year stint with Cardiff followed before Allchurch returned to his spiritual home of the Vetch in 1965, spending three more years in Swansea colours and racking up 40 league goals across those campaigns despite being in his mid-30s.
His Wales career extended until 1966, when he won his final cap against Chile. His caps and goalscoring records would stand for many years.
Indeed, he remains joint-third on Wales’ all-time scorers list; Ian Rush and Gareth Bale the only players above him.
Some 25 years after his sad passing aged 67, and surely for many generations to come, his is a name that will always be considered among the very best Swansea and Wales had to offer.