A life being lived for kicks

Brian in full flight playing for Singapore Cricket Club in the Presidents Cup, November 1974

Although he’ll underplay his role at every opportunity, Brian McIntyre has helped many of Dorset’s semi-professional football clubs, but perhaps especially Wimborne Town where he’s held a few posts including General Manager and Director of Football. The only one he’ll comfortably accept though is Good Friend.

For more than 20 years he has raised money for the club – and others – by staging sportsmen’s dinners and charity functions, using his many football contacts to arrange friendly matches, even the publication of his autobiography, Have Boots Will Travel, has been in aid of former Wimborne and Poole Town player and fire fighter Andy Culliford who is battling the degenerative effects of ALS, the most common form of Motor Neurone Disease.

‘Andy is an inspiration to us all,’ says Brian. ‘A more determined man is difficult to imagine – he was 31 and they gave him a year to live and he’s 39 now, he’s incredible.’

Brian is certainly enjoying an interesting life. As a teenager he lit up the Bournemouth football leagues and could have signed for Portsmouth but, after National Service in the RAF, accepted a security job with a diamond mine in Sierra Leone where he eventually found himself twice on trial for his life – and twice acquitted – for the murders of two illegal miners. Subsequently he went to South Africa and was offered professional terms to play for Cape Town Wanderers, but was unhappy with apartheid. He then went to work for Decca in Nigeria, Indonesia and Singapore, where he captained the soccer section of Singapore Cricket Club, before returning to Dorset in 1978.

He’d never stopped playing football and at a good level, but it was as a veteran that Brian McIntyre’s career went into overdrive. Asked to organise teams for Soccer Sevens tournaments in Singapore and Hong Kong, from 1988 Brian has befriended and played alongside six of England 1966 World Cup winning side, as well as other legends including Ossie Ardiles, Jürgen Klinsmann, Pat Jennings, Gordon Strachan, Liam Brady, René van der Kerkhof, Kevin Keegan and Alan Kennedy. He has played in Rio de Janeiro, graced the national stadium at Wembley and in 1999 was presented with the Umbro Veteran of the Year trophy by Jimmy Greaves.

‘I’ve had a wonderful time in football,’ he remarks with characteristic understatement. ‘I was lucky never to have a serious injury – I think I always knew when to jump – but not following my dream into professional football as a younger man took me on a very different path that resulted in me playing with some incredible players that I doubt I ever would have played with otherwise.’

He counts the likes of World Cup winners Sir Geoff Hurst, who wrote the foreword for Have Boots Will Travel, Martin Peters, Roger Hunt and Gordon Banks as good friends; Bobby Charlton too, although he says the Manchester United legend is a quiet man off the pitch.

European All Stars, Singapore, 26 September 1991. Back (l-r): Martin Peters, Brian Ward (former captain Singapore Cricket Club), Mike England, Mike Grice (vice-chair Soccer Sevens), Pat Jennings, Gordon Banks, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton, Thomas Teo. Front (l-r): Jurgen Martiens (chair Soccer Sevens), Brian McIntyre, Kevin Keegan, Tony Woodcock, Roger Hunt. Charlton and Hunt both retired from playing after the game in which they both scored in a 3-3 draw against a team of ex-Singapore internationals

‘I never met Bobby Moore although I did speak to him on the phone a few times. He was going to come on one trip but had already committed himself to drawing a raffle for the Scouts and told me that once he’d given his word he always kept it. The trips were always in May and two years later I was in touch with him before Christmas and he agreed to come; then he phoned in February to tell me how much he was looking forward to it. That was on the Monday and he died on the Wednesday. When I was told I just burst into tears and Geoff Hurst later told me later that during those few days Bobby called everyone he had made a commitment to just to let them know he hadn’t forgotten them. That was the mark of the man and that’s why you’ll never hear anyone say a bad word about Bobby Moore.

‘To a man, the players I’ve got to know are faultlessly generous with their time and talents and typically we would organise a week’s tournament followed by a week’s holiday for them and their wives – my wife Barbara would help take care of the wives. I don’t think things like that will happen in the future, at least not in the same way.’

Through his contacts Brian has taken Wimborne Town to play tournaments in Hong Kong against sides from such giants of the English game as Aston Villa and Manchester United. With the help of Liam Brady he has also twice managed to bring Arsenal sides to Wimborne’s home at The Cuthbury, including a fundraising match for Andy Culliford.

‘Another man who has never let me down and never charged a penny for anything he has done for me is Harry Redknapp – he kindly took over as club patron at Wimborne when Alan Ball died.’

Once Brian was almost able to repay Harry with a tip off about Aston Villa’s future England international Gabby Agbonlahor.

‘We had Paul Roast and Sam Percival, the two best centre halves in our league at the time, but when we played Villa in Hong Kong this young kid Agbonlahor cut through them like a hot knife through butter. I saw Harry a few weeks later and said I thought he should know about him so he made a couple of calls and a bit later got a call back, after which he assured me that now he did know about Agbonlahor.’

Wimborne Town play in the Evo-Stik League Division One South & West, four tiers below the Football League. They’re a club with history having been founded in 1878 and their FA Vase trophy success in 1992 makes them the only Dorset team to ever win a Wembley final and Brian is full of praise for current manager Matty Holmes.

‘We’re playing some good football again and I believe we’re pretty stable financially. We’re in discussion with Wyatt Homes to build a new ground and it’s my hope we get a 3G artificial pitch because once we get used to it it’ll give us something over our opponents – Hamworthy United have got one and their results have improved – plus we can rent it out during the week and earn a good income from it.’

Have Boots Will Travel

Brian’s book, Have Boots Will Travel is available from www.havebootswilltravel.co.uk, price £12.99. All profits from its sale will go to the Andy Culliford Support Fund.

This summer (2017) will see Wimborne Town and Gosport Borough, who are managed by Wimborne’s FA Vase-winning boss Alex Pike, contest the first annual Andy Culliford Trophy.

Pictured: Brian (right) with Andy Culliford, Harry Redknapp and former WImborne player Taffy Richardson at the launch of Brian’s book at The Cuthbury

• First published by Dorset Life – The Dorset Magazine

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