Porterfield in the 1973 Sunderland squad
|Full name||John Porterfield|
|Date of birth||11 February 1946|
|Place of birth||Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland|
|Date of death||11 September 2007(aged 61)|
|Place of death||Surrey, England|
|1976||→ Reading (loan)||5||(0)|
|2000–2001||Trinidad and Tobago|
|2001–2002||Kumasi Asante Kotoko|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
John "Ian" Porterfield (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 replaced Alex Ferguson as manager of Aberdeen in 1986.
Born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, at the age of 15 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.
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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, gaining the distinction of being the first manager to be sacked by a Premier League club.
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. However he was to resign before the rebuilding process was completed after becoming entangled in a row over money with the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa player John Fashanu.
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.
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.
He died, aged 61, on 11 September 2007, as a result of cancer of the colon, 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
- 1973 F.A. Cup: winner
As a manager
- Football League Third Division champions 1980-81
- Ian Porterfield career at Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database
- Ian Porterfield management career statistics at Soccerbase
- Obituary from The Times
- Obituary from The Daily Telegraph
- BBC Wear - Pictures: Ian Porterfield memorial at Sunderland Minster
- 1973 Sunderland FA Cup hero: Tributes and on-line book of condolences