Forgotten EFL: Carlisle United Player Manager Sells Himself To Sunderland

How many times has a manager watched a player and thought about selling him? As we get deeper into the transfer window, it is likely to be on a lot of manager’s minds.

What if that manager was a player-manager, and what if he was to sell himself? It might sound fanciful, but that is exactly what happened with Ivor Broadis, still the youngest player-manager ever to grace the EFL.

Ivor Broadis was born on December 18, 1922, on the Isle of Dogs, and his football odyssey began in the post-World War II era when he became a prominent inside forward. After being posted to Crosby-on-Eden, he caught the attention of nearby Carlisle United. Having guested for Spurs during the war, the 23-year-old was an attractive proposition, so they offered him the player-manager role. He accepted a decision that surprised many in the football world. Broadis was widely believed to be one of the hottest prospects in English football, whilst Carlisle was a struggling Third Division side.

It quickly became clear that Broadis was playing a long way below his ability, and in three years, he smashed 52 goals across 91 outings. His skill and tenacity caught the attention of larger clubs, leading to Hull City being linked with a £20,000 transfer. It might not sound a lot, but in today’s terms, it would equate to around £600,000. In post-war Britain, that was a massive sum, especially for a Third Division player. The record fee at the time was £20,000, which Notts County paid for Tommy Lawson.

Of course, money like that wasn’t going to be turned down by Carlisle, and yet Broadis had fallen in love with the club. He had a tough decision to make; did he sell his star player for a big fee, or did he stick around for the long haul? Hull’s bid didn’t come to fruition, but in February 1949, bids did come in. Blackburn Rovers were one club sniffing around Broadis; the other was Sunderland.

In the end, Sunderland won out, with Broadis choosing them after a discussion with his wife. He didn’t negotiate his own fee as popularly believed; the directors at Brunton Park did that, and he was soon off to Sunderland. His love of Carlisle never waned – he remained based in Cumbria and even trained with Carlisle under the watchful eye of his successor, future Liverpool legend Bil Shankly.

At Sunderland, Broadis continued to impress, becoming a key figure in the team’s attacking setup. His time at the club coincided with a period of success, and he played a vital role in helping Sunderland almost secure the First Division title in the 1949/50 season – still their best performance to date in the top flight. His performances at the club not only solidified his reputation as a top-tier player but also earned him a £25,000 move to Manchester City and a prestigious call-up to the England national team long before the days of 25-man squads.

Broadis made his international debut for England on December 1, 1951, in a match against Austria, a game drawn 2-2. Over the next few years, he became a regular feature in the England squad, earning a total of 14 caps during his international career. He bagged eight goals for his country, the first brace coming as England drew 2-2 with Scotland in the annual Home International in 1953.

One of the defining moments of his international career came in the 1954 FIFA World Cup held in Switzerland. Broadis played a crucial role in England’s campaign, contributing both as a creator and a goal-scorer. His performances, including a memorable brace against Belgium in the group stage during a 4-4 draw, which helped England reach the quarterfinals.

In his later career, he spent time with Newcastle, as popular there as he was in Sunderland, which is unique. He returned to his beloved Carlisle for a second spell before finally finishing his career north of the border with Queen of the South. After his playing career finished, he drifted into a career in football journalism, remaining in the same semi-detached house in Carlisle since 1955. He was the oldest surviving England international at the time of the 2018 World Cup,

Ivor Broadis passed away on April 12, 2019, leaving behind a legacy that extends beyond his playing days. His journey from a talented young player to an influential figure in English football reflects a lifetime dedicated to the beautiful game.


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