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 Alty Legends- Section Twenty-Three
by Terry Rowley

These pages chronicle the playing legends of Altrincham Football Club. The texts have been kindly supplied by Terry Rowley, joint editor of the Robins' Review matchday programme.  The profiles have previously appeared in the Robins' Review.

 



 


Altrincham Football Club Legends Section Twenty Three
Profiles 67-69.

67. Robert "Bob" MARSHALL

68. Neil MORTON

69. Robert "Bob" Jenkins DALE


67 - ROBERT "Bob" MARSHALL

By Terry Rowley, Joint Editor of The Robins' Review.

  • Born: Hale, Cheshire.
  • Height: Five feet eight and a half inches. Weight: 11 stone 7 pounds.
  • Position: Left-back.

    This Altrincham "legend" is a tragic story. Robert, or Bob as he was more commonly known, was a local man, born in Hale, who joined his local club, Altrincham and moved through the reserves into the first team. Essentially a full back, (playing either right or left), he played for Altrincham in any number of positions as required, without protest and with a large degree of class. Today he would be known as a utility player, comfortable with the ball on either foot, quick, with good distribution skills and a good tackle. It was inevitable that the chance to play at a higher level would eventually come his way.

    Although Bob’s date of birth is unknown it was reported on his debut that he was only a youngster. That debut came in the opening game of the 1922/23 season, when Bob was selected at right-back in a 3-2 defeat away at Middlewich Athletic. Bob’s performance was deemed good enough to retain his place and he spent the rest of the season switching between the right- and left-back positions. He featured in all of Altrincham’s Cheshire Senior Cup games, which led to a defeat, 4-1, by Crewe Alexandra in the Final.

    The following season found Bob starting at right-half, moving again to left-back, before featuring as a stop-gap inside-right in a 3-0 FA Cup win against Buxton, in which Bob scored twice. Due to the comfort and ease with which he slotted into any role, he variously played in defence, midfield and attack as the need arose. The highlight of Bob’s season was a hat-trick against Hurst in a 5-0 home win towards the end of the season, whilst playing up front.

    For the first half of the following season (1924/25) Bob found himself in the more familiar full-back role and was starting to attract the attention of League scouts with some outstanding performances in a struggling side. Just after Christmas, an injury crisis meant Bob being asked to fill in at centre-forward, which he did willingly, scoring twice, (including a penalty) in a 5-2 win against Ellesmere Port Cement. Bob went on to fill this role off and on throughout the rest of the season, a trend that continued into the following season.

    But, no matter how well he slotted into a variety of positions, it was abundantly clear that full-back and, more specifically left back, was his best position, an opinion endorsed by Blackburn Rovers, who signed him as a left-back at the end of the 1925/26 season.

    Remaining an amateur, Bob quickly established himself in the Blackburn Rovers Central League side and, the following season (1927/28), it was speculated on when, not if, he would be given his first-team debut. Tragically, this was never to happen. On Boxing Day, 1927, Bob was selected to play for the Reserves away at Blackpool. During the match he collided with a Blackpool player in what appeared to be a relatively innocuous clash. Although he left the field, the injury was thought to be minor. At the end of the game he was well enough to leave with his fiancée for a house near the Bloomfield Road ground, where they were staying for a few days. But, that evening, Bob was taken seriously ill with chronic abdominal pains and was rushed to the Blackpool Victoria Hospital and subsequently operated on. After surgery, Bob showed a slight improvement in his condition but this suddenly worsened and he tragically died, whilst still in hospital, on the 3rd January 1928.

    Bob Marshall’s Altrincham Career

  • 1922/23: 30 games, 0 goals in the Cheshire County League (CCL); 2, 0 in the CLC; 5, 0 in the CSC; 1, 0 in a friendly.
  • 1923/24: 26, 6 CCL; 1, 2 FAC; 2, 0 CSC.
  • 1924/25: 33, 6 CCL; 1, 0 FAC; 3, 0 CSC.
  • 1925/26: 29, 2 CCL; 2, 0 FAC; 5, 3 CSC.

    Career figures are incomplete due to missing line-ups during the above seasons.



    68 - NEIL MORTON

    By Terry Rowley, Joint Editor of The Robins' Review.


     I’ll confess up front, Neil Morton wasn’t just a canny signing by John King but was a particular favourite of this author. A talented and entertaining inside forward his Moss Lane career was unfortunately cut short when he was transferred to Barrow for £11,000 in the wake of John Maunders's financial withdrawal from Moss Lane but in just under a single season showed what followers of Altrincham would be missing.

    Following a stint with Vale Juniors, the teenage Neil joined Crewe Alexandra as a youth trainee, ultimately signing professional forms for Crewe in 1986 and progressed through the grades to be making regular first team starts towards the end of the following season, along with players such as Rob Jones, later of Liverpool and England fame and Phil Power.

    However Neil was surprisingly allowed to move into non-league football, joining Northwich Victoria in 1989. After a successful 89/90 season at the Drill Field (14 goals in 58 games), and a good start to the following season, (4 goals in 14 games), Neil bounced back into League football when he set the Northwich all-time outgoing transfer record by signing for Chester City for a fee of around £50,000 on  5 October 1990. Current Altrincham assistant manager Graham Barrow was then at Chester, first as player/coach, then as assistant manager and finally manager in 1992/93.

    In his first season (1990/91) with Chester, Neil scored 7 goals in 31 full league appearances. The following season it was 2 goals in 12 league starts. And then, in his final season with Chester (1992/93), he mustered 4 goals in 20 full league appearances. Which, in the context of Chester’s dire overall performance during that campaign (they finished at the foot of the Division 2 table!), was no mean achievement. In all Neil made 112 league and cup appearances for Chester and scored 15 goals.

    Neil was released on a free transfer by Chester manager Graham Barrow; he then joined Wigan Athletic, then managed by Kenny Swain, on the 1 August 1993 and went on to make his debut for Wigan in the season’s opening game against Scunthorpe United on 14th August 1993 at Glandford Park where Wigan suffered a 0-2 defeat.

    Over the next couple of seasons Neil went on to make a total of 59 league and cup appearances for the Wigan scoring 8 goals in the process. In September 1994 Graham Barrow was appointed Wigan manager and Neil was Initially sent out on loan to Altrincham in October 1994 making his Robins' debut in a 3-0 away win at Bath City and scoring on his home debut a few days later, a 3-2 League cup tie against Northwich Victoria. Signing permanently in November, Neil remained an ever-present over the rest of the season, and played a major role in knocking his former club, Wigan Athletic, out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory at Moss Lane.

    Neil ended the season with 16 goals in 43 games and a Cheshire Senior Cup finalist’s medal. As stated above, Neil was on his way to Barrow in August for £11,000 and Altrincham had lost a very talented play-maker. In just over three and half seasons he continued to show class, vision and, above all, entertainment as he scored 59 goals in just over 150 games. In February 1999 he moved to Morecambe, but his time there was limited and i
    n late August 1999 Neil followed his former manager, Tony Hesketh (having played for him at both Barrow and Morecambe), and signed for, then UniBond Premier side, Lancaster City for a small fee. However, injuries dogged his time at the Giant Axe and his appearances became intermittent but still thrilled the fans when he did manage to get on the field but due to injuries he did not play after the 2000/01 season.

    Neil Morton’s Career. Figures show appearances folowed by goals.

    Vale Juniors Congleton)


  • Crewe Alexandra (1986)

  • 1986/87 1+1 League, 0+1 FAC, 0+2 League Cup, 0+1 Freight Rover

    1987/88 17+7-1 League, 0+1 FAC, 0+1 Freight Rover

    Northwich Victoria

    1989/90 58 games -14 goals

    1990/91 12 games - 4 goals

    Chester City (10/1990 £50,000)

    1990/91 31+3-7 League, 2+1 FAC, 1-0 League Cup, 2-1 (DAF)

    1991/92 12+22-2 League, 0+2 FAC, 1+1 League Cup, 3-1 (Autoglass)

    1992/93 20+7-4 League, 0+1FAC, 0+1 League Cup, 2-0 (Autoglass)

    Wigan Athletic

    1993/94 32+7-4 League, 2-1 FAC, 2-1 League Cup, 2-0 Autoglass

    1994/95 9-1 League, 3+1 League Cup, 1-0 Autoglass

    Altrincham (loan 10/94, signed 11/94)

    94/95 27+1-10 League, 3-1 FAC, 2-1 League Cup, 5-1 CSC, 5-3 FAT

    Barrow (8/95 £11,000)

    95/96 30-10League, 8-1 FAC, 2-2 League Cup, 2-1FAT, 2+1-1 ATS

    96/97 38-22 League, 2-0FAC, 1-1 League Cup, 2-0 FAT, 2-3 PC, 2-0 ATS

    97/98 30+5-13 League, 1-0 FAC, 4+1-1 FAT, 1-1 PC, 1-0 ATS

    98/99 19+2-3 League, 1-0 FAC

    Morecambe (02/99 £5,000)

    98/99 4+2-0

    99/00 2+1-0

    Lancaster City (08/99)

    99/2000 3 League goals, 1 League Cup goal

    2000/01 1League goal



  • 69 - ROBERT "BOB" JENKINS DALE

    By Terry Rowley, Joint Editor of The Robins' Review.


     

    Bob Dale was another in a long line of coach, Arthur Gale’s ‘discoveries’ to be made playing for Lancashire Steel and his is another tragic tale of potential unfulfilled. He joined Altrincham as a 19 year-old in December 1950 and made his debut at inside-right for Altrincham in a 2-0 defeat at Ellesmere Port. After a short spell in the reserves Bob was re-introduced to the side in the Cheshire Senior cup first round tie and retained his place till the end of the season. Blessed with outstanding passing ability and high work rate, he was just the sort of player Altrincham were lacking. Scoring his debut goal in a 3-1 home win against Mossley and a further goal in 4-0 win against Runcorn were obviously satisfying but undoubtedly the highlight of his season was scoring the only goal of the game against Macclesfield Town in the Cheshire League Cup final in front of a crowd of 7,000 spectators.

    Starting the following season in the same fine form, scoring against both Mossley and Tranmere Rovers meant that his days at Moss Lane would be numbered and he was persuaded to try his hand at a higher level by Bury FC in September 1951. He spent the next year in the Bury reserves working on his fitness, eventually making his debut a year after signing; this was against Plymouth Argyle, away in September 1952. Stewart Imlach also made his debut that day and Bob went on to play in a run of 14 straight games, scoring twice. His final appearance for Bury came the following season in a 5-0 defeat at West Ham in November 1953 which was followed by a transfer to Colchester United in December 1953.

    Whilst out of the Colchester first team Bob was allowed to turn out for Altrincham in three further games at the end of the 52/53 season.

    A popular figure with Colchester he soon established himself in the first team, as a wing half and went on to score 11 goals league goals in a 127 League appearances before tuberculosis tragically finished his career at the age of 25. At Colchester he is remembered for his total of 15 goals in 135 first team games and as "a tremendous tackler, an outstanding passer and a great mate".

    There is also the memory of a failed promotion campaign to get into Division Two which Colchester failed to clinch by a couple of points being attributed to the fact that Bob Dale was only half fit for the final 13 games. Rivals Ipswich Town went up instead.
    A testimonial was played against Ipswich in 1958 and Bob was recently voted by Colchester fans as no. 55 in their all time 100 greatest players list.

    Electing to remain in Essex Bob became regional sales manager for Ross Poultry and in retirement he took a coaching badge and became involved with several local clubs, he also played golf and bowls.

    He died, of cancer aged 75 in January 2007

    Bob Dale’s playing career
     

    Lancashire Steel 

    Altrincham (12/50)

    1950/51 18-2 CCL, 3-1LC, 2-0 CSC

    1951/52 6-2CCL, 1-0LC

    1952/53 2-0CCL, 1-0LC

    (Bury 09/51)

    1952/53 14-2 L

    1953/54 1-0L

     

    Colchester United (12/53)

    1953/54-56/57 Played 127-11 League games , 8-4 cup




  • FOR FULL LIST OF LEGENDS, CLICK HERE

    Copyright: ©
    Compiled by John Laidlar