Town’s Worst Ever Keepers

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Once again, this study is based entirely on the goalkeepers I have watched over the last 50 plus years and nobody else. I cannot assess players from other eras, but I think you would agree, that half a century of watching Ipswich Town is a fair amount of time.


1. Matteo Sereni: At 6ft 1inch, he certainly looked the part size-wise, but in every other respect, this Italian keeper was a complete nightmare! He was sent off on his debut, and it all went downhill from then on.  Ipswich signed him in 2001 for a record transfer fee of 450,000 and this remains the highest transfer fee paid by the club. It was the year that Town were relegated from the top flight, and Sereni made just 25 starts before being loaned out to Brescia in 2002.  Matteo Sereni was later sentenced in 2009 to three and a half years in jail for sexually abusing minors at a Sardinian villa in the summer of 2009. In July 2017, Sereni’s conviction was annulled on appeal and he has scheduled a new trial in Turin. It looks like he failed on all fronts then…

2. John Hallworth: he began his career at Ipswich Town as a trainee before he was given a full-time professional contract. He only played for the Blues 45 times in the six years at the club and was loaned out to Swindon, Bristol City and Fulham, before he was sold to Oldham Athletic for 75,000 quid.  He was a nervous keeper who never made our defence feel comfortable but he excelled with The Latics when in his first season, he was behind the posts in their successful FA Cup semi-final run, and in the League Cup final, but he never felt entirely at home at Town.

3. Paul Overton: The less said about him the better. He played one game for Town in that 6-1 defeat at Aston Villa, just one week before the 1978 FA Cup final. Sir Bobby described him as the best player of the day, but action speaks louder than words and he never played again before dropping down to non-league football with Histon. I think that thumping at the hands of Villa destroyed his confidence, as he was still a teenager at the time. It is a bit cruel to include him here, but scores on the doors live long in the memory, and I simply cannot forget it!

4. Andy Marshall: He was another Goerge Burley signing, as was Sereni, but he got injured on his debut and was replaced by the Italian. He returned to the team but could not stop us from going down. The trouble with Marshall was that he started his career with those folks across the border, and found it difficult to endear himself to Town supporters. He was also a bit accident-prone and his goalkicking was quite frankly horrendous! Marshall went on to play for Millwall and Coventry and was off-loaded at both clubs, having made a similar amount of appearances.

5. Alec Bugg: He was seen very much as a stand-in keeper to David Best in the 1968-1969 season. The man from Needham Market somehow managed to concede 10 goals in the four games as Best’s understudy, and this included a real ‘mare’ that ended up handing the much-maligned Leeds United an undeserved 3-2 win victory at Portman Road. Enough said I think!

Now then, what do you think? Have I missed someone? Is there a keeper out there that I have overlooked and who deserves a special mention for all the wrong reasons?

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  • Kevin says:

    Unfair on Craig Forrest who was a decent and reliable keeper for many years. I liked him.
    Numerous goalies worse than him especially in recent years apart from Bart and Walton.

    • Frank Weston says:

      I wanted to provoke debate on the subject Kevin and I was perhaps being a little unfair on Forrest because he wore the Town goalkeeper’s shirt on 263 occasions. Sadly, the one that sticks out most in my mind is still the one at Old Trafford.

      • Gary Enticknap says:

        Anyone that puts Craig Forrest on the list knows absolutely nothing about football.

        • Frank Weston says:

          Look, Gary, this is a purely subjective study, and there is no empirical evidence to back up my claims. So then, Colin Viljoen, who played for Ipswich many times, knows nothing about football then, because it was his comments about the keeper that inspired me to include him in this list – along of course, with him being behind the posts in that 9-0 drubbing at Old Trafford. This is an opinion, and opinions in football are thankfully very wide-ranging, so to suggest I know nothing about football is like saying a drunk knows nothing about alcohol. Please take note, that I have since removed him from the list.

    • Frank Weston says:

      One man might not be right but can all of you be wrong? I think not, so including Craig Forrest on my worst keeper list Kevin, is a little unfair.

  • Richard Gardiner says:

    Yep – Matteo Sereni takes the prize for me. A footballing flop and commercial disaster. We were absolutely ripped off and never got a penny back on his 4.5 million pound fee.

    Now for Craig Forrest. He is not to blame for our 9-0 mauling at Man Utd. But for him, we could have been on the end of an apocalyptic 15-0 hiding.

    • Frank Weston says:

      Apocalyptic is certainly the word in vogue at the moment Richard. I once spoke with Colin Viljoen about him and we both agreed that had Paul Cooper been in the goal that day, we would not have gone down by so many. Different time. Different era.

  • Ron Hardington says:

    Agree with most of you listing with the exception of Craig Forrest who was an international footballer. Omitted from your list James Pullen and Jon Hallworth

    • Frank Weston says:

      OK, Ron, I accept that most people think that Craig Forrest should not be on that list, but in a conversation with former Blues midfielder Colin Viljoen, we concluded when we compared him with Paul Cooper, which I guess was a little unfair, that he was inferior in every respect. I guess it is that 9-0 thumping at Old Trafford that is the primary reason for his inclusion. Frank Yallop was also an international footballer for Canada, and of course, Tommy Smith played for New Zealand in the World Cup finals, but does that make them star players?

  • Ben Cook says:

    I’m confused.

    Matteo Sereni was actually a good goalkeeper. His main problem was his inability to learn or speak English. He also joined a club that had massively overachieved the season before and had severe issues within the dressing room in the relegation season.

    Also – the judicial system in Italy requires 3 courts to find against someone. The initial court that you are discussing here did find guilt, but in 2019 the Turin court suggested it be thrown out, as did the court in Cagliari in 2021. Thus, all charges dropped. His ex-wife and her mother should just be thankful that he isn’t vengeful, after seemingly fabricating claims in the divorce proceedings.

    Secondly; Craig Forrest? Bad? I must have imagined his endless ridiculous saves in the 1991/1992 season, and subsequent performances in the Premier League.

    If you’re trying to apportion blame on the goalie for a 9-0 hammering, you’re sadly completely out of touch with football. In the comments you discuss Paul Cooper, which is a touch unfair. Cooper is probably the best keeper to ever play for the club, so “not being as good” as him doesn’t make Forrest “bad” in any way. Ipswich also rejected multiple bids for him throughout his time at the club – foolishly, I would say. Especially as they ended up selling him a few seasons later for pittance.

    The list of keeper’s worse than him is pretty long. The list of goalies that are better? Cooper and Wright. No one else.


    • Frank Weston says:

      Thank you, Ben, for your detailed explanation, and I apologise to Matteo Sereni if I left his court case very much up in the air. As a goalkeeper, he started very badly when he was sent off on his debut, and I am surprised that Ipswich did not employ an interpreter if, indeed, his English was so poor. You say that the only good keepers we have had are Paul Cooper and Richard Wright, but what about David Best and more recently, Bartosz Białkowski – or do you base all your judgements on purely Premier League football?

      The Craig Forrest debate has more substance in my view. He played for Ipswich 293 times over twelve seasons, so he could not have been all bad – it’s just that every time I watched him he was! I wanted to provoke thought here, and it looks like I achieved it, but at the end of the day, we are a broad church of opinions here, and we cannot all be right.

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