Ian Porterfield

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Ian Porterfield
Porterfield in the 1973 Sunderland squad[ clarification needed ]
Personal information
Full nameJohn Ian Porterfield
Date of birth(1946-02-11)11 February 1946 [1]
Place of birth Dunfermline, Scotland
Date of death 11 September 2007(2007-09-11) (aged 61) [1]
Place of death Farnham, England
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Lochore Welfare
Senior career*
1964 Cowdenbeath (trial) 1 (0)
1964–1967 Raith Rovers 117 (17)
1967–1977 Sunderland 230 (17)
1976Reading (loan) 5 (0)
1977–1979 Sheffield Wednesday 106 (3)
Teams managed
1979–1981 Rotherham United
1981–1986 Sheffield United
1986–1988 Aberdeen
1989–1991 Reading
1991–1993 Chelsea
1993–1994 Zambia
1996–1997 Zimbabwe
1997 Oman
2000–2001 Trinidad and Tobago
2002 Kumasi Asante Kotoko
2003–2006 Busan I'Park
2006–2007 Armenia
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

IanPorterfield (11 February 1946 – 11 September 2007) was a Scottish professional footballer, and an experienced football coach who worked at both club and international level for almost 30 years. At the time of his death, he was the coach of the Armenian national team.


As a player, Porterfield scored the only goal of the 1973 FA Cup Final as Sunderland memorably overcame the odds to beat Leeds United. As a manager, he has the dubious honour of being the very first manager to be sacked in the FA Premier League era, when he was fired by Chelsea. He had earlier succeeded Alex Ferguson as manager of Aberdeen in 1986.

Playing career

The 1973 English FA Cup match ball with the Golden Boot awarded to Ian Porterfield, Sunderland AFC Bckup260815 011.JPG
The 1973 English FA Cup match ball with the Golden Boot awarded to Ian Porterfield, Sunderland AFC

At the age of 15, the Dunfermline-born Porterfield had a trial for Leeds United but returned, homesick, to Scotland where he joined Raith Rovers. Moving south of the border in 1967 he signed for Sunderland where he experienced his finest moment as a player when he scored the winner at Wembley in the 1973 FA Cup final, giving them a shock victory over Leeds United, who were among the finest club sides in Europe at that time. He stayed at Sunderland for ten years, with a brief loan spell at Reading in 1976, before moving on to Sheffield Wednesday in July 1977, first as a player and then as player-coach.

He was inducted in to the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame in 2018. [2]

Coaching and management career

Upon retirement as a player he went on to manage Rotherham United winning the Third Division Championship before joining Sheffield United on 6 June 1981. He was given the task of getting the Blades, newly relegated to the Fourth Division back into the First Division in five seasons with a long-term contract exceeding that particular time-frame.

Given funds by new Chairman, Reg Brealey, Porterfield strengthened the team and achieved the first step of his mission at the first time of asking, winning the Fourth Division championship in his first season. Despite huge financial losses, Brearley continued to provide transfer funds for United's march toward the top division. However, United were never in the hunt for promotion, finishing 11th.

The following season, the playing staff was cut and promotion was achieved, but only due to Hull City only beating Burnley 2–0. A third goal would have seen the Humberside club promoted instead. However, ground improvement required by promotion to the Second Division meant there was no further funds for new players. Porterfield was unable to complete the final step into the First Division and finally paid the price being replaced by Billy McEwan on 27 March 1986.

In November 1986, he was appointed as manager of Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier Division following the departure of Alex Ferguson to Manchester United. In his 2 years at Pittodrie, Aberdeen reached the Scottish League Cup Final, and qualified for Europe twice. After resigning in 1988, he made a quick comeback to football as assistant manager to Bobby Campbell at Chelsea and oversaw their promotion back to the First Division and Second Division champions in 1988–89.

In October 1989, Porterfield was named manager of Third Division side Reading but was sacked 18 months later, having failed to mount a promotion challenge.

Porterfield returned to Chelsea as manager for the 1991–92 season, following Bobby Campbell's decision to resign as manager and become personal assistant to owner Ken Bates. 1991–92 was an uneventful season, but 1992–93 began with Chelsea looking like surprise contenders for the first Premier League title. However, the good form had gone by Christmas and Porterfield was dismissed on 15 February 1993 after 12 games without a win, gaining the distinction of being the first manager to be sacked by a Premier League club. [3]

Porterfield was named manager of the Zambia in the summer of 1993 and later managed Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, all very much developing countries on the football map.

He was given the task of rebuilding the Zambian team following a tragic air crash in 1993 that claimed the lives of many of the nation's most gifted players. With the Zambia national team, he finished second at the 1994 African Nations Cup.

In January 1996, he returned to British football to become the assistant manager of struggling Premier League team Bolton Wanderers. The club had been rooted to the bottom of the table for the most part of the season and Bolton's new manager Colin Todd was looking to his former Sunderland teammate Porterfield to assist an unlikely escape from relegation, but survival was not achieved.

A drink-driving charge in May 1996 prompted his hasty resignation from Bolton and he returned abroad to manage both the Oman and Trinidad & Tobago national teams. He led the latter to the Caribbean Cup in 2001 before leaving in June 2001. [4] [5]

In 2003, he was appointed as the manager of Korean club side Busan I'Park and he led them to a Korean FA Cup victory in 2004. The team went on to claim the K-League first stage title, as it simultaneously continued its unbeaten run through the group stage of the AFC Champions League.

Porterfield left Busan I'Park on 4 April 2006. He signed a contract to coach the Armenian national team in August 2006.


He died, aged 61, on 11 September 2007, [6] [7] as a result of colon cancer, which had been diagnosed earlier that year. A minute's silence was held before Sunderland's next home game, by coincidence against another of his former clubs, Reading. A pub named The Porterfield is named in his honour in Sunderland.


As a player


As a manager

Rotherham United

Sheffield United

Trinidad & Tobago

Busan I'Park

As an individual

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  1. 1 2 "Ian Porterfield". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  2. "Ian Porterfield heads into Raith Rovers' Hall Of Fame". 1 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  3. "Football: Porterfield sacked as Chelsea turn to Webb". The Independent. 16 February 1993. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  4. 1 2 "Trinidad and Tobago v Haiti, 25 May 2001". 11 v 11. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  5. "ESPN.com Soccernet Global: News – Trinidad sack coach Porterfield". www.espnfc.com. ESPN FC. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. "IAN PORTERFIELD Footballer and manager (Obituary)". THE SCOTSMAN. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  7. "Cup hero Ian Porterfield dies". The Telegraph. 12 September 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  8. "Games played by Ian Porterfield in 1972/1973". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  9. 1 2 3 Glanville, Brian (12 September 2007). "Obituary: Ian Porterfield". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  10. "Ian Porterfield". 12 September 2007. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  11. "Ian Porterfield heads into Raith Rovers' Hall Of Fame". www.fifetoday.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2019.