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Club News

IAN McNEILL (1932-2017)

9 October 2017

All at Wigan Athletic were saddened to learn of the death of former manager Ian McNeill this weekend, aged 85.

  • Ian McNeill (1932-2017)
  • McNeill, twice manager of Latics (1968-70 & 1976-81), led Latics into the Football League in 1978.
  • Former player Tommy Gore: "Ian was a really good manager, we enjoyed some memorable times at Wigan together."

Chief executive Jonathan Jackson penned the following tribute to Ian McNeill following his death at the age of 85 this weekend.

Everyone at the club were saddened to hear the news that Ian McNeill had passed away at the weekend.

Ian will always be remembered as the man who assembled one of our best ever teams, in 1977-78, when we were elected to the Football League and finished in the top six in our first two seasons in Division Four. His teams were exciting to watch and many supporters will have special memories of those times when Wigan Athletic finally made it into the ‘big-time’ competing in the Football League and enjoying memorable cup runs. These achievements were even more impressive considering the league position of 14th at the end of 1976-77 season, our lowest ever in the Northern Premier League.

However, the signings of players such as Peter Houghton, Noel Ward, John Wilkie, John Brown and Maurice Whittle proved inspired as Latics reached the 3rd Round of the FA Cup and were elected to the league on June 2nd 1978. Older supporters will also remember that Ian first became manager in 1968 in the inaugural season of the Northern Premier League and less well known is that Ian returned to the club a third time in 2000 as Chief Scout under Bruce Rioch.

He was a lovely man, passionate about football and people in football respected his opinions as he played, managed and scouted for many clubs. He was clearly an expert at spotting emerging talent as his later years were spent scouting players for top level clubs. However, it was his time as manager in the late seventies that Wigan Athletic supporters will remember Ian most fondly.  All Latics supporters owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ian as without him Wigan Athletic may still be a non-league club today just like many of our closest rivals from that era.

The word legend is used too often these days but Ian McNeill will always be a true legend in the history of Wigan Athletic. We intend to pay our respects to him at the home match against Southend United on Saturday.

Latics will hold a minute's applause ahead of Saturday's match with Southend United - another of Ian's former clubs - so supporters can show their appreciation for his achievements during his two spells as manager here.

Tommy Gore, who played under McNeill at Springfield Park, added:

“Ian was a really good manager; he had to change things when he arrived and, whilst it wasn’t a spectacular change at first, he brought a few players in and generated a really, really good team spirit which took us on to some great things.

“He liked us to play in the right way, encouraged us to play an attractive style, trusted us and kept the players from the non-league days when we finally got into the league.

“Some of the cup runs and wins within those runs were heroic and we shared some really memorable times together.

“My thoughts are with Ian’s family and friends at this sad time.”

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