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John Alexander Beck (born 25 May 1954) is an Englishmarker professional footballer and manager. As a player he made nearly 500 league appearances between 1972 and 1988. He is also known for his role as manager of Cambridge United from 1990 to 1992, where he had previously been assistant to Chris Turner.


Beck started his playing career at Queens Park Rangers signing in May 1972 and made his debut in the 3-1 win against Leyton Orient in December 1972. Beck was unable to hold down a regular place in the immensely successful QPR side of the mid 70's competing with England captain Gerry Francis and Scottish international Don Masson for the creative midfield role. In 1976 he moved to Coventry City after playing 40 league games for Rangers, scoring once. he also played for Fulham, Bournemouth and finally joined Cambridge United in July 1986.

Beck's career was ended by injury in 1988, and he was appointed Assistant Manager. Following the dismissal of Chris Turner he was appointed manager of Cambridge United in January 1990. In his first season United won the Fourth Division playoffs, and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup (an exceptional achievement for a Fourth Division side). The following season (1990-91) they won the Third Division title after an excellent finish to the season saw them climb from 10th to top in less than three months, and they repeated the feat of reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals. During the Summer Beck turned down the opportunity to manage Leicester City, saying he wanted to take the club all the way to the First Division. In 1991-92 they finished 5th in the Second Division, the highest position ever achieved by the club, but lost to Leicester City in the play off semi-finals, ending their hopes of a third successive promotion and denying them the chance of becoming Premier League founder members.

Beck's long ball playing style was heavily criticised in the media, and by fans and managers of other clubs, particularly Glenn Hoddle then of Swindon Town. However, he remained popular with United fans. He also oversaw many unorthodox developments at the club, including the tactical repositioning of the away team dugout, ensuring the grass around the corner area was longer so as to slow the ball down when played in that part of the pitch, and the practice of throwing buckets of cold water over players before a match.

The club made a poor start to the 1992-93 season, and Beck was dismissed in October 1992 (by 1995, Cambridge were back in the fourth tier of English football).

He made a quick comeback with Preston North End, but was unable to prevent them from being relegated to Division Two. He spent two more seasons at Deepdalemarker, enduring successive Division Three playoff disappointments, before resigning.

Beck's next stop was at Lincoln City. They won automatic promotion to Division Two in 1998, but Beck had been controversially sacked just weeks earlier.

In 1999, Beck teamed up with Shane Westley, his assistant at Lincoln City and joined Barrow in a short lived advisory role.

Beck returned to Cambridge in March 2001, and kept them in Division Two, but he resigned the following November with relegation looking increasingly likely.

Beck is currently coaching at Histon in Conference National where he has helped first team coach Steve Fallon achieve a club record four promotions during his time at the club.

As of September 2009, Beck's future at Histon was in doubt after the teams poor displays in the defeats to York and Stevenage. He was asked by manager Steve Fallon not to travel with the squad to bottom of the league Chester City, a game which Histon subsequentially lost. This came days after Steve Fallon admitted to the press that following a summer of selling high profile players, Histon's current squad is "incapable of challenging for promotion."


As a Manager



  1. Beck's uncertain future as he is left behind Cambridge News

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