Date: 6th September 2016 at 8:18pm
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A lot of people tend to forget it but Eric Gates actually won two international caps with England!

He made his debut for the full England team when they faced Norway at Wembley on the 10th September 1980 and England triumphed 4-0 and again about a month later in Romania, when England went down 2-1 and he was substituted at half-time.

He was born in the same neck of the woods as then manager Sir Bobby Robson and being a Durham lad, the gaffer seemed to take to him.

Gates made his debut for Ipswich Town on the 27th October 1973 when he was just eighteen and he replaced the one and only Roger Osborne at Portman Road, which was something of an achievement in itself!

He was a regular bench warmer in those days and came on another sixteen times in the role of super-sub until he finally made his full debut against Derby County at the then Baseball Ground in 1975.

He went on to play for the blues another 295 times and one of his most memorable performances was when he scored twice at Portman Road against Barcelona in the first leg of the 1979 Cup Winners Cup quarter final to the delight of a packed house!

I had the pleasure of seeing him on many occasions but like a lot of great players who think outside the box, he was a very temperamental fellow too and once left the club to pick potatoes back in Middlesbrough until he was coaxed back by Mr.Robson apparently!

Gates was employed playing off the main two strikers, who in those days were Paul Mariner and Alan Brazil I seem to recall. They all benefited from his presence of mind and he gave the blues a new and refreshing attacking dimension.

He may have only been 1.68 meters (5ft 6 inches) but he more than made up for his lack of height with skill and guile and his ability to pick a pass did much to cement our threat going forward.

He also had the knack of being in the right place at the right time and he notched up 73 goals in his spell with Town before he moved onto Sunderland for 150,00 pounds in 1985, which sadly coincided with his slide from prominence.

Frank Weston – Editor of Vital Ipswich


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