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.
Gerry Casey was the original ‘hard man’ centre half or at least he was to the editors of this programme. He came to Moss Lane, already into his thirties, with a reputation as a solid, no nonsense defender. Today he probably wouldn’t have stayed on field to finish many matches, as his uncompromising ruggedness was legendary. Powerful in the air and solid in the tackle, he took no prisoners. He arrived at Altrincham at the same time as team-mate Joey Pritchard and goalkeeper Peter Eales, (team mate Mickey Brooke had joined Altrincham a few weeks earlier).
He started his football career with local club Holyhead Town, going on to join Tranmere Rovers in August 1967, aged 26. He was surprisingly signed and played as a midfield player. He spent three seasons at Prenton Park before returning to non-league football with Ellesmere Port Town for the 1970/71 season, a club that Joey Pritchard had joined and which already had local boy Mickey Brooke playing for them. Gerry joined Altrincham (along with Pritchard) at the very end of the 1972/73 season. In fact, the league season was over but both played in the NWFL two-legged final against Buxton, winning 5-2 at home and losing 1-2 away, to take the tie 6-4. The following season Gerry was the rock on which Altrincham built their FA Cup run, culminating in a 0-2 defeat by Blackburn Rovers at Moss Lane. Altrincham also made the final on the NPL Cup, losing to Boston United after a replay. He was an ever present that season, playing in 63 senior games.
The following season Gerry was part of the side that went to the Third Round of the FA Cup and played in both the ties against Everton at Goodison Park and Old Trafford. As some compensation Altrincham did defeat Mecclesfield in the NWFL final and reached the Cheshire Senior Cup final, Iosing 2-3 to Runcorn at Gresty Road. By the following season, age and injuries were beginning to catch up with Gerry and, although they made the FA Cup 1st Round (going down 1-3 to Halifax Town at The Shay) no other silverware was forthcoming and Tony Sanders was already rebuilding a side decimated by Les Rigby’s disastrous rein. So, at the end of the season, Gerry left Moss Lane, a legend to anyone who saw him play.
Brother of Manchester City’s Nicky Reid, Andy Reid or ‘Hagar the Horrible’, as he was affectionately known by Altrincham fans, was an uncompromising ‘all action’ type of player. Able to play at the back or in midfield, his best position was undoubtedly centre-back. He started his footballing career as a junior at Everton but was not offered a professional contract. He moved on to Witton Athletic, Southport and then Runcorn before arriving at Moss Lane for the 89/90 season. He played a big part in Altrincham’s so near yet so far attempt at the League title. After 3 seasons he joined Bury as part of the £10,000 deal that saw him and Nicky Daws join Bury. He played 33 games and scored once during his spell at Gigg Lane before moving back to Moss Lane when Paul Rowlands took over as manager.
Unfairly called in some quarters as ‘dirty’ he was really just very committed, though to be fair he did miss a number of games each season due to suspension! Despite his reputation he was considered good enough to be the last Altrincham player (along with Stuart Terry) to be ~selected for an England semi-professional cap (March 1995). In his second spell at Altrincham he formed an excellent centre back pairing with Paul France, the highpoint of which was the FA Cup tie at Spurs when "Frannie" and "Hagar" were up against Klinsmann and Sheringham. The low point was probably Andy’s foul throw in the same game that resulted in Shaun Constable's goal being disallowed. Andy was the sort of player who played wherever he was asked without complaint and with 100% commitment. It was this commitment that made him a favourite on the terraces but it also led to a number of injuries, which probably shortened his career. His absence during the 96/97-relegation season was sorely felt and a fully fit "Hagar" could have made a big difference. He left Altrincham and joined Hyde United, returning a couple of seasons later to take over coaching the reserves at Moss Lane under Anthony Taylor.
Alan Foster's Altrincham career was brief but 5pectacular, a case of what could have been. He was a striker who always excited crowds and when he joined Altrincham from Runcorn he was already a legend at Canal Street. It was said at the time in the local press that Alan Foster's playing or not could affect the gate at Canal Street by 200-300. He was obviously an exciting a player. So it was some feat for then Altrincham manager Freddie Pye to lure him to Moss Lane for a reported mere £500, especially as clubs were queueing up with more lucrative offers to sign him up.
Foster joined Crewe Alexandra in August 1959 from Northwich Victoria, but played only 22 league games, scoring 7 league goals in his two seasons at Gresty Road (59/60 & 60/61). Even so he managed two hat tricks in away wins at Barrow (4-3) and Accrington Stanley (3-1) and scored two goals in Crewe's 3-1 FA Cup second round replay against Halifax Town in season 60/61. Nonetheless he moved to Runcorn for the 61/62 seasorr and became an instant success, topping the Runcorn scoring charts in his two seasons at Canal Street.
He moved to Altrincham midway through the 63/64 season, making an instant impact, scoring a hat-trick on his debut in the 3-3 draw with Mossley at Moss Lane and followed it with a hat trick in his second game in the 5-0 away win at Congleton. He must be the only Altrincham player to have scored a hat trick in each of his first two games, (even Jackie Swindells didn't manage that!). He followed this in his next game with two against Chester Reserves. Alan failed to score in his next two games but then scored goals in the next eight consecutive games, finishing with both goals in a 2-1 home win against Sankey making it 17 goals in just 12 games.
Unfortunately a combination of injury, (injuries had dogged him at Runcorn) and being cup-tied for the Cheshire League Cup meant that his appearances became more sporadic but he still managed a further nine goals in the season giving him a total of 28 goals in 27 games. He made only one further appearance for the Robins on the opening day of the 1964-65 season, a 2-1 away defeat at Oswestry and, that was it; his Altrincham career was over.