Pat Saward

Obituary published October 05, 2002

Pat Saward, an imposing Ireland international who helped to take Aston Villa to victory in the 1957 FA Cup Final. Tall, broad-shouldered and darkly handsome, Pat Saward cut an imposing figure as he stared back at the camera from one of the group photographs that once adorned the pages of newspapers and football magazines. Those photogenic qualities were never more in evidence than when he was a member of the Aston Villa team that defied considerable odds to win the FA Cup in 1957. Saward was the Villa left half and his own rise to prominence was almost as unlikely as that of the team he represented.
 
Signed from Millwall for 7,000 in August 1955 - the formalities were completed at Paddington station - he had a sensational debut, scoring the equalising goal in a 4-4 draw against Manchester United, but struggled to make the step up in standard and was put on the transfer list at the end of the 1955-56 season.
 
However, there was little interest from other clubs and after a summer in which he improved his fitness, the club changed its decision and he was retained. It proved to be a propitious move for both parties. Vic Crowe, the regular left half, suffered a knee injury and Saward missed just one game of a season in which the famous Midlands club briefly recaptured its former glories by winning a record seventh FA Cup.
 
Although he was born in Cobh, Co Cork, the young Saward lived in Singapore and Malta before his family moved to South London. Remarkably, he did not take part in his first organised game of football until he was 18 and considered his elder brother, Len, who played briefly for Crystal Palace and Newport County, a much more promising player.
 
By the time of his move to Villa Park he was an Ireland international, winning his first cap against Luxembourg in 1953 - and, in all, he represented his country 18 times. He became Villa captain in the 1959-60 season, during which the club won the second division championship and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup, where they were defeated by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
 
After leaving Villa in March 1961, he ended his playing career at Huddersfield Town and then joined the coaching staff of Coventry City. First as youth team coach and then as assistant manager, he was a hugely influential figure in the rise of the club during the 1960s and was credited with playing a significant role in the development of such key players as Willie Carr, Mick Coop, Jeff Blockley and Dennis Mortimer. The latter later became a [very] successful captain of Saward’s former club, Aston Villa.
 
He accepted the offer of a chance to manage Brighton and Hove Albion in July 1970 and, two years later, steered the club to promotion from the third division. With his extrovert personality, attacking style of play and infectious good humour, he was immensely popular at the Goldstone Ground. Brighton quickly returned to the third division, however, and he was sacked in October 1973. His replacement was one of the most colourful and controversial figures in English football, Brian Clough.
 
In the mid-1970s he coached in Saudi Arabia and then set up a business in Minorca. His final years were spent in Newmarket.
 
Pat Saward, footballer, was born on August 17, 1928. He died on September 20, 2002, aged 74.

Season

League

FA Cup

FL Cup

Europe

 

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

1955-56

6

1

0

0

 

 

 

 

1956-57

41

1

9

0

 

 

 

 

1957-58

40

0

2

0

 

 

 

 

1958-59

14

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

1959-60

40

0

5

0

 

 

 

 

1960-61

11

0

0

0

1

0