John David Sewell (born July
7, 1936 in Brockley, south
London) was a professional footballer who had a long career in the
English Football League, before
continuing as player and coach in the North American Soccer League
(NASL) during the 1970s.
Nicknamed "The Duke", Sewell boasts
the distinction of never having been booked during his English
As a young athlete, Sewell played fly-half at rugby and was twice
selected to play for England Schools’ Under 15 team. On leaving
school, he first became a sprinter with Blackheath Harriers, and
then signed as a professional footballer for Bexleyheath &
Welling in 1954.
A key man at centre-half in the Kent League team at Bexleyheath,
Sewell was transferred to Charlton
on January 5, 1955. Almost immediately, however, he
spent two years in national service, and finally made his league
debut for Charlton at right-half against Sheffield Wednesday
in January 1957, a
year in which the club struggled (and ultimately failed) to avoid
relegation from the First Division. After not making the first team
the following season, he was named again to the squad in December,
1958 – this time at full-back, a position he played for the rest of
Sewell made 204 first team appearances for Charlton, scoring five
goals, before signing for London rivals Crystal Palace
on October 25, 1963.
Between 1963 and 1971, he made 258 appearances for Palace, scoring
nine goals, mainly from the penalty spot. He became club captain in
1967-68, when Alan Stephenson left to join West Ham
, and in 1969, led Palace to
the First Division for the first time in the club’s history.
In 1970, his last season with Palace, he scored his best remembered
goal in the closing seconds of a Division One match against league
leaders Leeds United
. The visitors were
a goal up when the ball came to Sewell, thirty yards from goal, who
chose to hit a speculative lob back into the penalty area. The
Leeds goalkeeper, Gary Sprake
the ball at his goal line, and then inexplicably dropped it behind
him into his own net.
In 1971, Sewell received a testimonial for his services to Palace,
against Belgian club RFC Bruges. It was his last game in a Palace
shirt. That same year, he joined an exodus of players leaving
Selhurst Park to join their former coach George Petchey at Leyton Orient
After just one season, however, Sewell left for America to play in
the fledgling North
American Soccer League
for the St. Louis Stars
. Sewell spent four
seasons (1972-1975) playing with the Stars, seeing time in 58 games
and scoring 4 goals. In 1975, he was named NASL Coach of the Year,
for his success guiding a St. Louis squad comprised almost
exclusively of home-grown American players, an oddity in the era of
, and other high-priced imports. At the end of the 1977
season, the Stars moved to Anaheim, California where the team became known as the California Surf.
Sewell made the move
to California with the team and continued to coach through the end
of the 1981 season.
His soccer career at a close, Sewell stayed in California for
almost thirty years, before retiring to Washington state in 2006.
wife Maureen live in the Seattle