by Terry Rowley

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

118. Laurie BROWN

119. Barry WHITBREAD

120. William Harvey McCREADIE

118 - Laurence 'Laurie' BROWN

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

  • Born: Shildon, Co. Durham, 22nd August 1937
  • Died: Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham, 30th September 1998

Laurie Brown was born in Shildon, County Durham on August 22 1937.

At 6 foot 2 inches he was able to play at either centre-forward or centre-half and started as a centre-forward with his local side, Shildon, before moving to Bishop Auckland, whilst training to be a cabinet maker and working in a department store in Bishop Auckland.

He was then called up to perform his National Service, during which time he turned out for both Woking and Fulham reserves. Returning to Bishop Auckland, he continued making progress, primarily at centre-forward, scoring five goals in a 9–1 Northern league defeat of Ferryhill Athletic, in November 1958.

He also made three league appearances as an amateur for Darlington towards the end of the 1958-59 season. In December 1959, Laurie, scored nine goals for the Durham FA as they beat the East Riding FA, 11–0 and, although he was making his name as a goal-scoring centre-forward, it was as centre-half that he was selected in February 1960, for the Great Britain amateur team to play against Northampton Town, the result a 2-2 draw.

He performed well enough to merit selection for the England international amateur side, making his debut on the 5th March 1960, in a friendly against West Germany, once again playing at centre-half.

He then played for Great Britain at Dublin in the 3-1 Olympic qualifying win against the Republic of Ireland on 13th March. On the 26th March he played for England in the British Amateur Championship, in a 2-1 win over Scotland. This was followed by a 5-1 Olympic qualifying win over the Netherlands on 2nd April, meaning qualification, with a game to spare. The final qualifier was played on the 13th April, also against the Netherlands, ending in a 2-2 draw. It was reported at the time that Laurie had delayed signing professional terms, with any club, so as to be free to play in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Laurie was indeed selected, not only as a player but also to captain the Great Britain side that was to compete in Rome; the British team failed to progress to the knockout stages, losing 4-3 to Brazil and then drawing with both Italy and Formosa, (Taiwan), and they finished the tournament ranked eighth overall. On his return to England Laurie was to captain the England amateur side in a 3-2 win over Northern Ireland.

He had signed for Northampton Town, initially as an amateur, playing two games, before finally accepting professional terms in October, going on to became the club's leading scorer in his initial season, (1960-61), with twenty-two goals in the league, helping the club to third place and promotion to the Third Division.

However, late in the season, he had been switched from centre-forward into central defence and, from then on, he flourished in that position. At the end of the season Laurie was selected to go on the FA XI world tour, where he played alongside Bobby Moore, Tom Finney and Colin Appleton as the side played eleven matches in the Far East, New Zealand and the US in the space of a month.

In August 1961 he was signed by First Division, Arsenal for a fee of £35,000, and immediately became a first-team regular in the Arsenal side, missing just one match during the 1961/62 season. After making 109 appearances for the ‘Gunners’ in two-and-a-half seasons, scoring two goals, Laurie, having been dropped in December, made the surprising move to local North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur in February 1964, for a fee of £40,000, thus becoming one of the very few players to play for both clubs.

His first match for Spurs came the day after signing and was against his former club Arsenal, with Laurie nearly scoring in a 3-1 Spurs win on February 22, 1964.

Laurie failed to settle at Spurs, though he still made 62 League appearances in his two seasons at White Hart Lane but, in September 1966k he was sold to Norwich City, where he spent the next two seasons. Laurie captained the side during the 1967/68 season, playing in total 81 games and scoring 3 goals. He finished his professional career at Bradford Park Avenue, where he became the club's player-manager, on 5th December 1968. Unfortunately, he was presiding over a club that was battling re-election and relegation from the Football League.

Early the following season, 1969/70, Laurie was informed that team selection was to be taken over by the chairman, so Laurie resigned as manager and, on 24th October 1969, all nineteen professionals at the club asked to be placed on the transfer list. Laurie was given a free transfer on 15th November. He had played 36 games and scored once.

Over at Moss Lane, Altrincham were still seeking a manager to replace Freddie Pye, who had been acting manager since Matt Wood'ss resignation in August. Laurie, after talks, agreed to take over and was appointed Altrincham’s player-manager on 19th November1969, making his playing debut at Springfield Park in a 2-2 draw against Wigan Athletic on November 22nd 1969. It was Laurie who brought, former Bradford player, Charlie Rackstraw to Altrincham, to supplement the attack.

Dogged by injury, Laurie tried to lead on the field. The highlight of his Altrincham career was winning the Northern Premier League Cup. In all, Laurie played 22 games in his first season in all competitions, his only goal being a crucial one, as it came in the second leg of the Northern Premier League Cup final, staged at the Moss Rose, which Altrincham won, 2-1, thus taking the Cup, 3-2 on aggregate, in front of 6,000 spectators.

The following 1970/71 season started poorly, with a 2-0 defeat at Bangor City. Jack Swindells had moved on and Tony McLoughlin had been brought in to replace him. Laurie also brought in new players, such as left-winger Lou Thom, John MacNamee, Geoff Dover and Graham Carr, and played himself at centre-half. The changes were not successful and, after a string of poor results, including an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at South Liverpool, Laurie tried one last change, playing himself at centre-forward in the 3-1 defeat to Stafford Rangers in the Northern Premier League Cup.

It was his final game in an Altrincham shirt. Laurie resigned soon after, having played a further seven games, with an additional one as substitute. Freddie Pye once more took temporary charge.

Laurie then had a spell as player/manager of King's Lynn from December 1970, lasting until April 1971 and, later still, after moving back to the North East, he became manager of Stockton. On retiring he ran a public house and, later still, worked as a milkman.

Laurie Brown sadly passed away in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham on the 30th September 1998.

Note: Laurie was the father of England field hockey international, Karen Brown.

Laurie Brown’s Career

  • Shildon AFC (Amateur)
  • Woking & Fulham reserves, whilst on National Service.
  • Bishop Auckland
  • Darlington (03/59 am): 1958/59 3 apps.
  • Bishop Auckland
  • Northampton (professional 10/60): 1960/61 33 apps, 21 goals in League, (total 38 apps, 25 goals).
  • Arsenal (08/61 £35,000): 1961/62-62/63 101 apps, 2 goals.
  • Tottenham Hotspur (04/63 £40,000): 1963/64-64/65 63 apps, 3 goals in League; 3 apps in FA Cup
  • Norwich City (09/66 £25,000) : 1966/67-67/68 80+1 apps, 2 goals.
  • Bradford PA (player/manager 12/68- 10/69): 1968/69 36 apps, 1 goal.
  • Altrincham (player/manager 10/1969)
    • 1969-70, 14 apps in NPL; 4 pps, 1 goal in League Cup; 2 apps in CSC; 1 app. in FA Trophy; 1 app. in NWFL.
    • 1970-71 6+1 apps in NPL; 1 app. in League Cup.
  • King's Lynn (player/manager) (December 1970-April 1971).
  • Stockton (manager).

119 - Barry WHITBREAD

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

Born: Manchester, October 1948

Barry Whitbread, although under-rated by many, was the final piece in manager, Tony Sander’s Altrincham team that took back-to-back titles in both 1979/80 and 1980/81. He arrived at Altrincham as a 30 year-old, with a reputation for goals and finished up earning six caps at England, semi-professional level.

Mistakenly reported by some sources as being born in Liverpool, Barry was actually born in Manchester and attended the Ducie Technical High School, in Greenheys, (the same school that actor, John Thaw and singer Paul Young, attended). On graduating Barry went to Liverpool University to study Politics and History.

Barry was also an amateur at Manchester City and won representative honours as part of the British Universities side that toured Yugoslavia in the summer of 1970, playing at outside left.

After graduation, Barry then went to Lancaster University to obtain his teaching degree in Physical Education. Whilst studying at Lancaster, Barry signed on to play for Lancaster City. His impact was immediate, scoring a hat-trick on debut at the beginning of the 1971/72 season and scoring 22 league goals during the season and playing alongside, former Altrincham forward, Dave Furnivall.

The following 1972/73 season, in the FA Cup First Round proper, Barry made headlines, when he scored in the fourth minute against Notts County. Unfortunately, County managed to turn the game around after a disputed penalty decision and won the tie 2-1. Barry went on to score 51 goals in 120 games for Lancaster before moving closer to home and joining, Runcorn, for £250 in December 1973. This was to be Runcorn’s most successful period.

Runcorn won the Cheshire Senior Cup at the end of the 1973/74 season and in 1974/75 Barry scored 35 goals, as they not only retained the Cheshire Senior Cup but also won the Northern Premier League Cup. In the Northern Premier League championship-winning side of 1975/76, Barry scored 29 goals but was pipped to the “golden boot” award by Trevor Finnegan, who scored 43 goals.

In 1976/77 Barry scored another 30 goals which led to his call up to the nascent England semi-professional set-up, along with team mate, Barry Howard, to take on Italy in an unofficial friendly.

One of Whitbread’s most memorable Runcorn goals came in the FA Cup replay in November 1977 when he headed the only goal in a replay against Southport to take Runcorn into the Second Round against Hartlepool United. Watched by a crowd of 5,156 at Canal Street, the match generated record gate receipts at that time of almost £3,500.

It was at Runcorn that Barry really established his reputation as a prolific goal scorer, amassing a total of 181 goals during his five seasons with the club in addition to winning, full England non-League international honours in May and June 1979, Barry scoring in England’s 5-1 defeat of Scotland.

In July 1979, Tony Sanders submitted an offer of £6,000 to Runcorn for Whitbread’s services. However, this offer was rejected but Tony persisted and re-submitted the bid in September, after which Barry was placed on the transfer list, at his own request. Runcorn, yet again, rejected the offer, holding out for their asking price of £7,500. A compromise was finally reached when Altrincham increased their bid to £6,400 and Runcorn agreed.

So, on 1st October 1979, Barry Whitbread finally became an Altrincham player for a new club record transfer fee of £6,400. The 30-year-old Barry, also become the fourth teacher in the Robins’ squad alongside John Owens, John Davison and Phil Wilson. (Barry was teaching at Netherley Comprehensive in Liverpool).

Barry made his Altrincham debut the following day, scoring on debut in the 2-1 replay victory over Bangor City in the Alliance Premier League Cup. He then scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 win at A.P. Leamington and scored in Altrincham’s 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra in the first round of the FA Cup, following up with Altrincham’s goal in the 1-1, FA Cup Second Round tie against Orient at Moss Lane.

At the end of the season, Barry had picked up a League Champions' medal and a League Cup runners-up medal, having scored twenty-five goals in forty-five games, second only to John Rogers’s twenty-nine in fifty-one games.

At the end of the season Barry was called up for the England semi-professional squad, along with team mate John Davison. Barry earned further caps against, Italy, Scotland (substitute) and The Netherlands, scoring in a 2-1 win.

BACK: P. Warburton (coach), B. Whitbread, F. Towers, G. Barrow, J. Connaughton, J. Owens, J. Johnson, J. Evans (physio). FRONT: J. Rogers, B. Howard, J. King (capt), A. Sanders (manager), J. Davison, S. Allan, G. Heathcote.

The following season was more of the same, Barry playing throughout Altrincham’s FA Cup run, that culminated with the Third Round tie at Anfield. Barry was less prolific but still finished the season with twelve goals from forty-six games, with three more appearances from the bench.

More importantly, Altrincham had retained the League title and, in addition, also captured the League Cup. Barry made one final international appearance in June 1981, playing in a 1-1 draw with Italy. Making his final record two goals in six appearances for the England semi-professional side.

The most bizarre match for Barry came in his final season for Altrincham when, on the 8th September 1982, Altrincham played at Canal Street, against his former club, Runcorn. Altrincham were winning, 4-2 with 10 minutes to go and Barry had scored all four and yet he still ended up on the losing side, as the Linnets made a stunning come-back to score three goals in the last few minutes and win 5 -4!

Barry once again featured in Altrincham’s FA Cup run, making the Third Round, yet again, before eventually going out to Burnley, 6-1, Barry having scored twice against York City in the second replay. Barry missed out on a Cheshire Senior Cup winners' medal, being injured, but finished his Altrincham career at Wembley, in the 1-0 FA Trophy defeat to Enfield, making his final Altrincham appearance as a substitute, for John King. Barry had finished the season with fifteen goals from forty-two full, and three substitute, appearances.

After three successful seasons at Moss Lane Barry, along with John Owens, moved on to Marine. Barry’s stay there was brief before moving to the United States in January 1983 to coach. He briefly returned to Runcorn in 1984/5, scoring two more goals in nine further appearances and then became player/ coach at South Liverpool in September 1985.

He then joined Northwich Victoria, initially as player/coach in 1986/87, and then as, player/assistant manager for the 1987/88 season, only to return to Canal Street as their new manager in July 1988. This was after John King’s departure, and he took Runcorn to third in the league but was unable to sustain this progress and was sacked in November 1990.

Barry returned to coaching in the States and was then appointed as Assistant Technical Director to the then Singapore National Coach in June 1994. He eventually took over the post of National Coach a year later and led the Singapore National side to their first ever title, the Tiger Cup (now known as the ASEAN Football Federation Championship), in 1998.

Barry resigned in December 1998, citing family reasons. He then took up the position of Recruitment Officer for Liverpool FC, prior to being appointed as Chief Scout at Blackburn Rovers under Paul Ince in July 2008. He then continued coaching in Saudi Arabia, (for Ah Ahli) and Gauteng in South Africa, (2009), before taking up scouting duties for the F.A. in 2013, (for the 16-21 age group). Barry has been coaching part time for the Jamie Carragher soccer schools since 2014.

Note* His son Zak was born in America and was a professional footballer for, Millwall, Norwich City, Leicester City, Derby County and Shrewsbury Town.

Barry Whitbread’s Playing Career:

  • Lancaster City: 1971/72- 1972/73 120 games - 51 goals
  • Runcorn: (12/1973 £250): 1973/74-79/80, 181 goals
  • Altrincham: (10/79 £6,400):
    • 1979-80: 29 games - 17 goals NL, 4-2 FA Cup, 6 apps -3 goals League Cup, 2 apps -2 goals Chesire Senior Cup (CSC), 4 apps - 1 goal FA Trophy
    • 1980-81: 33+1 games - 7 goals NL, 2+2 apps - 0 goals FAC, 6 apps -3 goals LC, 1 app -0 goals CSC, 4 apps - 2 goals FAT
    • 1981-82: 29+2 games - 10 goals NL, 5 apps -2 goals FSC, 4 apps - 1 goal LC, 2 apps - 2 goals CSC, 2+1 apps - 0 goals FAT
  • Marine: 1982/83 left 10/82 to coach in USA,
  • Runcorn: 1984/85 5+4 apps - 2 goals L
  • South Liverpool: 1985/86 - coach 86/87,
  • Northwich Victoria: - player/coach 86/87 then P/Asst. Manager 87/88.

120 - William Harvey McCREADIE

By Terry Rowley.

  • Born: Glenluce, 1st October 1942
  • Died: Dumfries, 30th September 2008
  • Like Cuhullin, of Irish legend, Harvey was destined for a short, meteoric career.

    He was what would commonly be termed a ‘Character’. Undoubtedly talented, he was regarded as something of a teenage prodigy and, what must be appreciated is that, most of what he achieved occurred whilst still a teenager. He started playing as a schoolboy with Girvan Amateurs before going South to sign as a schoolboy for Rotherham United, on the 4th January 1958. Homesickness meant a move back to Scotland and he joined Stranraer before being scouted by Third Division side, Accrington Stanley.

    He made his debut as a sixteen-year-old and by the following 1959/60 season was seen leading the Accrington attack. This was prior to signing his first professional contract on his seventeenth birthday. However, Accrington were struggling financially and, in quick succession, had sold many of their senior players while minimising the amount spent on replacements.

    Legendary striker George Stewart was sold to Coventry City. Bob McNichol, Wattie Dick and Jimmy Mulkerrin were also sold for much-needed cash. Harvey McCreadie was also sold just three months into his first professional contract, when first Division, Luton Town offered £6,000, (approximately equal to £140,000 in 2020), for his services, (Fulham and Wrexham had also both shown interest but were put off by the asking price).

    Seventeen-year-old Harvey joined Luton in January and made his first team debut in February at Molineux in a 3-2 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. But Harvey’s career soon ran into trouble when, in April, he had to undergo surgery for a serious eye injury, having been found unconscious and bleeding outside a local dance hall.

    Luton were relegated at the end of the season and Harvey was allowed to move to Wrexham, for £1,000 in November, 1960 having made a single first-team appearance. He made his Wrexham debut at Bradford City and, although highly regarded, there were questions regarding his attitude. After scoring two goals in ten games, he was allowed to leave and briefly joining Northwich Victoria, where he played five times, scoring once.

    He then signed for Mossley, in late September 1961, becoming the club's first-ever professional and he started to show the form that everyone expected. He scored twice on debut, followed by two goals in each of his next two games and then scored again in his fourth game. He scored regularly, including against Altrincham in January 1962, and ended the season, with thirty goals in just thirty-eight appearances.

    He started the following season in the same vein, scoring six goals in six games, which had attracted the attention of Scottish First Division side, Hibernian, who paid Mossley £1,000 for Harvey’s services in September 1962. He made his debut, still aged only nineteen, against Motherwell on the 15th September and scored his first goal against Glasgow Rangers a week later in a 1-5 home defeat.

    He also scored in a 3-0 win over Queen of the South in October and, a week later, scored in a 4-1 win over Third Lanark on the 3rd November. His final Hibernian game came on 23rd March 1963 in a 3-1 defeat by Falkirk. He was released, having scored three times in nine games.

    Harvey moved back South and joined Sankey’s of Wellington for the 1963/64 season. The side finished second in the table, one place above Altrincham.

    Freddie Pye at Altrincham, ever on the look-out for talent, brought Harvey to Moss Lane and he started the 1964/65 season, on the opening day, playing at inside-right, switching to centre forward on the departure of Alan Foster. His debut goal came in his third game, a 4-1 defeat of Northwich Victoria.

    He then scored in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round defeat of Marine and followed up with a goal in the Inter-League win over his old club, Mossley. He scored again in the following 2-1 win over Buxton and then scored all four goals in the FA Cup Second Qualifying victory over St Helens Town.

    He continued to be a regular scorer, when available, despite wayward behaviour. On one occasion Pye had to travel to the Isle of Man to bring Harvey back to play. This sort of behaviour led to his contract being cancelled in January 1965.

    That was his footballing career over at twenty-two.

    Harvey McCreadie Career:

    • Girvan Amateurs:
    • Rotherham United: (schoolboy 01/1958)
    • Stranraer:
    • Accrington Stanley: (professional 10/59)
      • 1958/59: 1 app - 0 goals in league
      • 1959/60: 27 apps - 10 goals in league, 1 app. - 0 goals in league cup
    • Luton Town: (01/60 £6000) 1959/60 1 app. - 0 goals
    • Wrexham: (11/60) 1960/61 10 app. - 2 goals
    • Northwich Victoria: (09/61) 1961/62 5 app. 1 goal
    • Mossley: (10/61) 44 app. - 36 goals comprising...
      • 1961/62- 38 app. - 30 goals
      • 1962/63 6 app - 6 goals
    • Hibernian: (09/62 £ 1000) 1962/63 9-3,
    • Sankey's Wellington: 1963/64
    • Altrincham: (C/S1964) 1964-65 19-7 L, 3-5 FAC, 1-1 LC

      Contract cancelled (01/1965)