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.
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
Career figures are incomplete due to missing line-ups during the above seasons.
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.
Neil was surprisingly allowed to move into non-league
football, joining Northwich
In his first season (1990/91) with
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
Over the next couple of seasons Neil went on to make a total of 59 league and cup appearances for the
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 in 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
1989/90 58 games -14 goals
1990/91 12 games - 4 goals
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)
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)
99/2000 3 League goals, 1 League Cup goal
2000/01 1League goal
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
and made his debut at inside-right for Altrincham in a 2-0 defeat at
the following season in the same fine form, scoring against
both Mossley and Tranmere Rovers meant that his days at
out of the
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
appearances before tuberculosis
tragically finished his career at the age of 25. At
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.
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
Dale’s playing career
1950/51 18-2 CCL, 3-1LC, 2-0 CSC
1951/52 6-2CCL, 1-0LC
1952/53 2-0CCL, 1-0LC
1952/53 14-2 L
1953/54-56/57 Played 127-11 League games , 8-4 cup