Ivor Brodus made a unique move at the age of 26 when, as a player-manager, he arranged his own transfer to another football club. This decision granted him the opportunity to compete for the English title just a year later and earned him a call-up to represent the national team. But what motivated him to personally facilitate his move to a different team?
During World War II, Ivor Brodus, who was often called Ivor, was a mere 16 years old when the war was declared. This young lad from Isle of Dogs joined the Royal Air Force and accumulated more than 500 hours of flight time. Despite the ongoing war, football remained a cherished escape for the young soldiers, including Brodus.
As Brodus played in various matches, his reputation as a talented forward continued to grow. Shortly after the war, he was stationed in Cumberland while still serving in the Royal Air Force. Learning of his rising reputation and the fact that he had previously played for the Carlisle United football team during the war, the club extended an offer to the then 23-year-old to join them. Ivor was appointed as a player-manager due to his exceptional talent, charisma, and vision. Upon accepting the offer, Brodus became the youngest player-manager in the English Football League, a record that remains unbroken to this day.
Although he had never played football at such a high level before, Brodus quickly demonstrated that in the Third Division North, he was a goal-scoring sensation, netting an impressive 55 goals in 94 matches for his new team. However, after two and a half seasons, Carlisle’s player-manager decided to embark on a new chapter in football history.
In January 1949, Ivor Brodus exercised his right to be transferred. Several clubs expressed interest in acquiring his services, but Sunderland, known as the “Bank of England Club” at the time due to their substantial financial resources, emerged as the victors. The fee that Carlisle received for their star player and manager played a crucial role in helping the struggling club stay afloat, as the team was grappling with severe financial difficulties. Thus, at the age of 27, Brodus sold himself to Sunderland for a staggering £18,000.
“Carlisle received £18,000 for my transfer. It was an astonishing sum in those days. All I did was exercise my right to seek a move. Blackburn, Manchester City, and Preston were all interested, but it was only Bill Murray, the manager of Sunderland, who personally came to see me. That’s why I joined them, but it was the club’s board that agreed to the transfer fee. I didn’t set my own transfer value,” revealed Brodus in a later interview.
His time at Sunderland could be described as a mixture of success and disappointment. Despite his goal-scoring prowess, Brodus and his new team finished third in the First Division of England in 1950. That season, Sunderland was expected to clinch the title, falling short by just a single point. An unexpected loss towards the end of the season proved to be the decisive factor that denied the team the championship. Since then, the club has not come close to securing its seventh title.
After tallying 25 goals in 79 appearances for Sunderland, the “Black Cats” transferred him to Manchester City for £7,000 in 1951. Ivor went on to score 10 goals in 74 matches for the “Citizens.” He then made a move to Newcastle, Sunderland’s city rival, before ultimately returning to where his football journey had commenced – Carlisle.
During his football career, Brodus received a call-up to represent the England national team, amassing 8 goals in 14 matches, even participating in the 1954 World Cup.
Upon retiring from his playing career, Ivor Brodus ventured into journalism. Throughout his journalistic career, he strived to avoid mistakes, unlike a league official who had initially misunderstood his true name, Ivon, as Ivor. This misinterpretation led to the enduring “nickname” that stayed with him for the rest of his life.