08 Oct 2022
JOHN DUNCAN: FEBRUARY 1949 - OCTOBER 2022
The whole team at the League Managers Association is devastated that our close friend and colleague, LMA member John Duncan, has passed away at the age of 73. He died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones.
John became fully engaged and deeply committed to the association, initially joining the Committee in 1992 to represent the managers working in his division at that time. Following his tenure on the Committee, John became heavily involved with the LMA’s technical division in a consultancy role.
He became an employee of the LMA early in 2009 and, as LMA Technical Manager, has continued to represent his fellow members ever since.
Sir Alex Ferguson CBE said: “I will always remember John with a great deal of respect and affection.
“When I was playing and managing in Scotland, I remember him playing up front
for Dundee and then of course he went on to be an exceptional striker for
“I’ll never forget John, as manager of Chesterfield, leading his second
division team to the 1997 FA Cup semi-finals which really was a fantastic
“In his role as LMA Technical Manager, I know first-hand what an invaluable
asset he was to the association, working tirelessly and sharing his superb
knowledge of the game. John understood the needs of his fellow LMA members and
the importance of a collective voice.
“John had such humility and a great sense of humour and I spoke with him only a
matter of weeks ago. I will miss seeing him and I send my deepest condolences
to his daughters, his sister, his partner and their families.”
LMA member, John’s former player and close friend Sean Dyche added: “I worked with John for a number of years whilst at Chesterfield FC through some of the best years in the club’s history.
“He was an excellent manager who always worked to get the best out of all of his staff and players in order to mould a team into one that could challenge and be successful.
“He was not only a manager to me, as he became a friend and a mentor as my career progressed from player to coach and onto being a manager. I always appreciated his knowledge and help and I reached out to him many, many times for an opinion and support whenever I felt necessary.
“His dry wit and sense of humour were always intact if and when he felt it was the right moment. My respect for him runs deep and I was so fortunate to get the chance to tell him so recently.
“My heart and thoughts are with his family, especially his three brave daughters who have helped him so much over the last months.
“A loss to football and a big loss to me personally, but he won’t be forgotten by me or by all those who played under him or knew him”.
LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson said: “In the 42 years I have known John, his modesty has shone through. Never have I heard him mention his phenomenal goal scoring record as a professional player - a goal every two games.
“When I was at Sheffield Wednesday, he was at Chesterfield, so our paths crossed frequently, enjoyably and always fruitfully. You could play against John’s team and, at the end of the game - win, lose or draw - John would still be John.
“We were fortunate to have him as a loyal, honest, experienced, knowledgeable and hardworking member of the LMA team. He was never afraid to speak his mind but, when he did, it was only and always in the best interests of our members and the game he loved. His passing will leave a huge hole.
“I know I speak for the whole LMA team and his friends when I say we will remember John and miss him dearly. John’s family and many friends are in my thoughts.”
LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan OBE added: “Everyone at the LMA is utterly devastated by John’s loss. For so many years, John has been an integral part of the team.
“His total, lifelong dedication to football meant he brought unrivalled knowledge to his role. Always strong-minded, John was a passionate advocate for quality improvement across all aspects of the professional game, working alongside football’s stakeholders for the good of everyone involved. He represented the views of his fellow members with passion and humility.
“John was a caring member of the team and we will never forget his gentle sense of humour. We send our sincerest condolences to John’s daughters Louise, Marie and Evette, his sister Avril, his partner Carol, his grandchildren and all of his family and friends at this very sad time.”
John Duncan Biography
A prolific striker, John started his career at his hometown club Dundee where he won the Scottish League Cup during a 7-year spell, averaging more than a goal every other game.
His scoring record attracted the attention of Second Division side Tottenham Hotspur, who signed John in 1974 for a fee of £160,000.
John continued his excellent goals per game record at Spurs, scoring 62 goals in 118 appearances, and was a key member of the team that regained its place in the old First Division in 1977/78.
After a couple of seasons at Derby County, in 1981 John transitioned into management with Scunthorpe United in the Fourth Division. He soon built a side capable of challenging for promotion, and he laid the foundations for his successor, Allan Clarke, to lead Scunthorpe into the Third Division in 1983.
Six weeks after his departure from Scunthorpe, John took the reins at Hartlepool United for a brief period, before Chesterfield lured John to the Recreation Ground ahead of the 1983/84 season.
As an impressive young manager, John continued to excel in the role, leading Chesterfield to the Fourth Division title in 1985 before consolidating the club in the Third Division. In 1987, Second Division side Ipswich Town recruited John, following the departure of Bobby Ferguson.
A consistent three-year spell in Suffolk ended in 1990, where John took up a post as a schoolteacher. In 1993, he returned to the professional game with his former club Chesterfield, relocating back to Derbyshire for a third time.
His final managerial role was arguably his most successful, enjoying a 7-year tenure, winning the Third Division Play-offs and masterminding the Second Division club’s historic run to The FA Cup semi-final replay in 1997, losing to Premier League side Middlesbrough.
Upon leaving professional football management, John demonstrated his unwavering passion for the game and coaching, working with budding players and coaches at Loughborough University.
In his role with the LMA, John acted as a mentor and confidante to a vast number of coaches and colleagues and became a respected voice in English football. For many years, he imparted his football expertise to support the development and improvement of refereeing standards, in his role as LMA Technical Manager, and he never stopped representing the best interests of his peers, the LMA’s members.
As his colleagues, we fondly remember his office greeting – whatever the time of his arrival, he would greet us with a cheerful “morning, morning”! JD – we will all miss you terribly.