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.
Stuart Terry was one of two significant signings made during Paul Rowlands's brief spell as player/manager at Moss Lane, (the other being Steve Cross). Rowlands brought Terry to Moss Lane from Bangor City, (his own previous club), on his appointment at Moss Lane. Terry had made a very rapid rise to the top of the non-league game as only two seasons previously he had been playing for Heswell. Terry was a natural successor to Paul Showier and previous Altrincham wingers. He was fast, consistent, hard-working and a frequent goal-scorer, who became Altrincham's nominated penalty taker. For three and a half seasons he excited crowds but then it went sour. The peak of his Altrincham career was his selection and subsequent appearance for the England semi-professional side against Wales in 1995,along with Andy Reid - a fitting acknowledgement to his talents.
The trauma of the relegation season (1996-97) and speculation about a move to Rushden &
Diamonds, a move that never came to be, meant that by then Altrincham fans had already seen the best of Stuart in a Robins' shirt. The following season Terry never settled in the UniBond League. He was obviously unhappy and the goals dried up. So, at the end of the season, with
his contract up, it was no surprise when he moved to Northwich Victoria. But even with the change of club he never seemed to re-capture the sort of form that brought him international honours
and after only two seasons he was released and subsequently joined League of Wales side Connahs Quay Nomads, for whom he still currently plays (2002-03).
John Hughes arrived at Moss Lane for the 1974-75 season with a growing reputation for goal scoring and left the folIowing season with that reputation enhanced. He was one of the most complete strikers to have played for the Robins in modern times and quite obviously played well below the level of football that he was capable of, a situation brought about by his decision to give up full-time football to concentrate on the family-run car dealership in Anglesey. For anyone who is old enough he will always be remembered for the goal that he scored at Goodison Park against Everton in the 1-1 3rd round FA Cup tie in 1975, running on to a beautifully weighted, defence splitting through ball (supplied by one G. Heathcote!) and calmly slotting it past the Everton keeper.
John started as a junior with Blackpool, signing professional terms in July 1969, During his time at Blackpool he played 5(+3) league games and had a loan spell at Southport in March 1971 where he played a further 7(+1) league games and scored his first league goal. At the end of the 1970-71 season he quit professional football and joined his home town club, Bangor City, (then playing in the Northern Premier League). Over the next three years he averaged 20+ goals a season, statistics that brought about his arrival to Altrincham for the 1974-75 season.
During that first season Hughes showed all the trademarks of a born goal scorer; pace, strength and finishing. He scored hat-tricks against Buxton and Skelmersdale in 5-0 wins at Moss Lane and finished the season with 36 goals in all competitions. He scored one of the goals against Macclesfield that brought the NWFL trophy to Moss Lane. He also finished with a CSC finalist's medal (losing 2-3 to Runcorn). The following season was by no way prolific and he was dogged by injury but still managed a hat-trick against Great Harwood in the 3rd Round of the league cup. After regaining fitness, John decided to have one last stab at professional football and in January 1976 he joined Stockport County and went on to play 11(+1) league games and scored 3 goals for the "Hatters".
At the end of the season Hughes returned to Bangor City where he teamed up with another former Robin, Tony Broadhead, to deadly effect. He continued to play for Bangor City into the early eighties before a combination of injuries and business commitments brought about his retirement
from the game. Today, John still runs the family business on Anglesey.
An Appreciation by Mike Garnett.
It seems somehow appropriate that this tribute to Ivan Crossley should [first] appear in the Programme for a UniBond League game, as he enjoyed his best days here while the club was in what was then known as the Northern Premier League.
Ivan was born in Bury. He was a junior at Coventry City and appeared in the 1970 F.A. Youth Cup Final, which the young Sky Blues lost to Tottenham Hotspur. He moved on into semi-professional ranks and came to Moss Lane from Bangor City. During his 8 years at Altrincham he shared in the FA Trophy win over Leatherhead in 1978 and played a full part in the side whose record ensured the club a place in the new Alliance Premier League. Ivan was kept on the fringes of Tony Saunders's dual championship-winning side of 1979-81 but played a valuable part as a squad member, and enjoyed a final notable season as the Robins returned to Wembley in the Trophy.
Ivan the player was honest, dependable, and consistently underrated by many and never gave less than 100%. Used mainly as a full-back, he could adapt to other defensive and midfield duties at need - but Crossley goals were rare animals. I seem to remember a long-range thunderbolt at Moss Lane against Stafford in the early stages of his time with us - but one's memory is of a great trier and clubman. Sometimes bearded - thinner on top when he finished than when he made his debut, but always modestly reliable.
After he left 'Alty', one would occasionally see Ivan representing a certain motoring organisation in Manchester City centre, but one's former heroes do tend to fade rather rapidly from view. However the shock of his early, sudden death - which came about playing the game he loved - is no less powerful for that and has, to this writer's certain knowledge, been very keenly felt far further afield than this little corner of North West England.
All Robins fans of the seventies and eighties will wish to salute the memory of an Alty stalwart whose name graced the team sheet more than 300 times and to express their sorrow at his loss.