Cliff Britton

Born:

27.08.1909

Birthplace:

Hanham

Debut:

19.08.1961 Peterborough Utd (a) 2-3

Reign:

July 1961 - May 1970

Record:

Pld: 446, W:182, D:114, L:150, For:760, Agst:648

Died:

01.12.1975

Elected:

September 2000

Clubs:
Managerial

Burnley
Everton
Preston North End
HULL CITY

Profile:

An impressive playing career with success at the very highest level provided the background and preparation for Britton's managerial ventures.

His professional playing career began with Bristol Rovers and after making over 50 appearances for the 'Pirates' he moved to Everton where over 200 League appearances brought him club and international honours. As well as being a member of an impressive Everton half-back trio, his England appearances brought him together with Joe Mercer and Stan Cullis, both of whom would go on to achieve recognition for their managerial achievements.

Britton would not be far behind them in terms of profile and achievement. If anything, he took the lead, for in his first managerial appointment, with Burnley in October 1945, he quickly steered them to promotion from Division 2 in season 46/47 and an appearance in the 1947 F.A. Cup final. On the strength of this pedigree he returned to Everton as their manager at a time when they were struggling. For two seasons he managed to keep them in the top flight but in the third his efforts proved unsuccessful and Everton were relegated to Division 2. Relying heavily on a policy of youth rather than big money buys; it took him three years to regain the club's membership of Division 1. During this time and indeed afterwards his tenure at Goodison Park was fraught with difficulties in his relationship with the Club's Directors. It centred on Britton's frugal approach to spending money in the transfer market and would lead, eventually, to his departure in rather acrimonious circumstances. After a six month sabbatical Britton joined Preston. In a five-year spell, the club flirted with winning the League championship and Britton laid the foundations of a solid youth policy. However when they were relegated in season 60/61 Britton resigned and it was Boothferry Park that was his next port of call.

The desire for Division 1 football expressed by the Directors - and chairman Harold Needler in particular - had not materialised in the 15 years of their stewardship and Britton was seen as the answer to a protracted problem. Britton was methodical in his approach, relying on his tried and trusted methods of youth and solid defensive foundations. It was not the 'quick fix' approach that many had hoped for but it could hardly have come as a surprise for it was the way he worked and, in time, both Directors and Supporters recognised that it had some merit as the Tigers promotion push began to gain momentum. With the astute acquisition of Wagstaff, Houghton and Ian Butler to supplement earlier acquisitions he finally achieved the first steps towards Division 1 when the Club won the Division 3 championship in 1965/66. In taking the club this far Britton had displayed tremendous loyalty to his players and methodical planning in his approach to games.

With the benefit of hindsight it was perhaps this loyalty that was to prove his undoing; for rather than strengthen the squad for one last push to breach the Division 1 barrier he preferred to rely on the group of individuals who had served him well thus far. His loyalty initially paid dividends for in the early stages of season 66/67 City blasted their way to the top of Division 2 with a string of high scoring victories. The early momentum could not be maintained however and injuries to key players saw the wheels start to wobble and eventually fall off, with the bandwagon ending up on the hard shoulder of mid-table and there it stayed for the remainder of the 60's. Whilst his record and length of service deservedly places him on the highest of plinths in the managerial Hall of Fame, a little more ruthlessness and adventure in bringing in new players to replace and supplement the old guard would have converted his stature to immortality.