Armfield leads tributes to Pool hero John McPhee

John McPhee
John McPhee
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Jimmy Armfield led tributes to former Blackpool favourite John McPhee, who has died aged 77.

Known fondly as ‘Chopper’ by the club’s supporters for his committed and tough play, McPhee wrote himself into Blackpool folklore with 291 appearances between 1962 and 1970.

After joining from hometown club Motherwell, McPhee quickly built a fearsome reputation at the heart of Pool’s defence, winning two player of the year awards and being part of the team promoted back to the top flight in 1970.

And Armfeld, who played in almost all of McPhee’s games for the Seasiders, said he will always be remembered.

“It’s a sad time for everyone. He’s a player and a person who will always be remembered,” said Armfield, who turned out 569 times for the club. “John was full of life and a terrific person to have around the club. He was such a vibrant character.

“The first thing you’d say about him as a footballer is – what a fantastic competitor.

“He didn’t join as a defender but soon settled into the back line alongside Glynn James. They became a great friends .

“The nickname Chopper was something we never heard in the dressing room. It was more of a fan thing. He was a tough player. He played for keeps, put it that way.”

McPhee made 37 appearances in his debut season of 1962-63. Although not known for his goal scoring, a winning strike in a 2-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield was the highlight of the following season, during which he played a further 30 times.

Injury forced him to miss the opening of the 1964-65 campaign but he bounced back in style, playing in the club’s remaining 26 games before being voted the club’s player of the year, a title he won again three years later.

In September 1965, McPhee made history by becoming Blackpool’s first participating substitute when he replaced John Craven after 83 minutes of a 3-0 victory over Leicester.

After relegation, Stan Mortensen took charge for the following season and McPhee was an ever-present in 47 league and cup games.

Under new manager Les Shannon in 1969-70, McPhee made 29 league appearances in his final season with the club, which ended in promotion back to Division One.

After over 250 league games, McPhee was sold to Barnsley before joining Southport in 1971. Having ended his career there, McPhee became a businessman in Blackpool as owner of the family-run Hotel Sheraton on Queens Promenade.

Armfield added: “Although he came down from Motherwell, John really bought into Blackpool as a place.

“He loved Blackpool, became a succesful businessman in the town and lived here ever since first arriving from Scotland.

“I think I played in all of John’s 291 games at the club, so it’s fair to say I knew him well.

“He’s someone I was very fond of and kept in touch with long after we hung up our boots. He’ll be fondly remembered.”

Blackpool FC will pay tribute to the defender ahead of Saturday’s game against Millwall at Bloomfield Road.

A number of McPhee’s former team-mates are expected to attend, including club legend Armfield.

“I’ll make every effort to attend Saturday’s game and pay my respects,” he said.