Adios, Moysie: 10 other British reigns in Spain (ft. Chris Coleman's 'dishwasher')
1. Vic Buckingham (Barcelona, 1970)
Best remembered at Barcelona for wearing tweed jackets and silk ties, drinking cocktails and gossiping about the gee-gees, archetypal English gent Buckingham arrived at Camp Nou in 1970, hired as coach despite an uninspired spell at Fulham.
His tenure was short but notable, with Buckingham lobbying hard to have the ban on foreign players lifted by the Spanish FA. In this he succeeded, and having negotiated first refusal on Johan Cruyff, it could be argued that he changed the bloodline of Spanish footballing history forever.
However, his most notable moment as far as we’re concerned came ahead of one game, when he scrawled the name of Barcelona’s opponents BETIS on the locker room chalkboard, screamed "F*** Betis!" at the top of his voice, and then kicked the board to the ground. No gentleman, that one.
2. Jack Greenwell (Barcelona, 1917-23, 1931-33)
Seven seasons, 492 games
Long before Buckingham brought his potty gob across to Catalunya, Barcelona had called upon the services of another Englishman, a north-easterner by the name of Jack Greenwell. Having arrived in 1917 from Crook Town (way up north), he stuck around far longer and enjoyed significantly more success.
His six consecutive seasons (and 492 games) in charge was a record, until Cruyff came along. During that time he led the club to seven trophies, before moving on and criss-crossing Spain to Castellon, Espanyol, Valencia, Sporting Gijon, Mallorca and then back to Barcelona. Later, he managed Peru. As you do.
3. Fred Beaconsfield (Athletic, 1922-25, 1929-33)
Nicknamed ‘El Bombin’ on account of his bowler hat, Wolverhampton-born Beaconsfield Pentland remains the most successful coach in Athletic Bilbao’s history. Arriving via Racing Santander in 1922, he delivered two league titles and five Spanish cups.
Impressive enough, but he makes this list on account of being in charge on the day in 1931 that saw Santander rip Barcelona 12 new ones – the 12-1 drubbing remains the Catalans’ heaviest ever defeat. Though Beaconsfield came home when the Spanish Civil War broke out, El Bombin’s reputation remained.
4. Francis Cuggy (Celta Vigo, 1923-26)
Wallsend, Celta Vigo, The Shipyards
Born in 1889, having represented Sunderland and England as a right-half (go ask your grandad, kids), Cuggy moved into management as player-manager of Wallsend FC of the north-eastern league in the early 1920s.
From there it was inevitable that he would get the call from Spain, who needed a manager and didn't think twice about offering Cuggy a very generous five-year deal. Cuggy duly delivered the Galician Championship, but when his contract expired he returned home to work in the shipyards on Wearside. Things were very, very different back then (as your grandad's grandad will confirm).
5. Jock Wallace (Sevilla, 1986-87)
The Opel of Seville
As manager of Sevilla from 1986, fiery Scot Wallace achieved the square root of very little – he won just 14 of his 44 games in charge and when he next resurfaced in management, it was to take over European giants Colchester United.
But as an illustration of how far the game has come in the last 25 years, the day he signed compatriot Tedd McMinn works very well.
McMinn arrived at Malaga airport in January 1987, to very little fanfare. He was met by Wallace, a pasty-white face among a sea of suntanned strangers.
Gripping his new signing firmly by the hand, Wallace reportedly growled: “Come on son. The Opel's outside. Get in the back and throw that blanket over you. Naebody can see you today.”
And there, like a scene from The Sweeney, McMinn remained for the entire journey back to Seville. Hidden beneath a tatty tartan rug. In the back seat of “the Opel”.