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.
Neil Dewar was born in Sheffield and had two spells at Moss Lane. He was the son of the former Manchester United and Scotland international of the same name and was born in Sheffield as his father was playing for Sheffield Wednesday at the time. Eventually the family returned to Scotland when his father eventually moved to Third Lanark. Neil Junior played all his junior football in Scotland and being considered good enough to play for the Scottish national youth team for two seasons, the first whilst he was at school and the second whilst he was playing for the famous Glasgow amateur club, Queen's Park. He was even selected for the full amateur side to play against Ireland but the Scottish FA asked him where he was born and he honestly replied, Sheffield, so he lost his place!
National Service curtailed his next two years' football after which he had a short spell with Bury as an amateur. He originally joined Altrincham during the 56/57 season as a robust hard tackling left half who was also able to play left back when required. These were not successful times for Altrincharn and Neil was forced to leave Moss Lane along with all the other professionals early in season 60/61, when the club were in dire financial straits and asked all the professionals to take a huge pay cut, which they refused.
Neil went to Stalybridge Celtic where he met up with future manager Freddie Pye and even ended up as player-manager before being persuaded to return to Moss Lane towards the end of the 63/64 season by the aforementioned Pye. Pye immediately converted him to central defence and Neil played a further 4 seasons for the Robins, winning two Cheshire County League titles, a Cheshire Senior Cup, a League Cup finalist's medal, a NWFL finalist's medal and a Cheshire County League runner's up medal. He retired when Altrincham joined the newly formed Northern Premier League.
The following article on Neil appeared in the Robins' review for 27/9/65 in the series "Off the Field".
Although Neil Dewar has been living close to Altrincham since his National Service days, his accent hasnít changed a bit from the days when he was an amateur with the famous Scottish club Queenís Park. Neil was born within throwing distance of their ground, and when he was "called up" his family moved, to Sale.
As soon as he moved south, Bury spotted his talent, and he was quickly signed up as an amateur. He moved to Moss Lane from Bury, playing with the Robins as a professional for five years or so. He then went to Stalybridge for a spell, but Freddie Pye hadnít long taken over at Moss Lane before he was back again.
"Veteran" Neil has been married eight years and has two children . . . six-year-old Linda and three-year-old Martin, who is currently proving a handful to Neil and his wife Anne in their Brooklands home.
The rangy centre-half is strictly a family man, but when domestic duties and soccer donít take up every minute of his time he likes to slip away for a game of golf. Putting is his big asset in this game, so he could soon be giving Jimmy Brown one or two tips.
Any fans who have insurance troubles might find the 31-year-old knocking on their door. He is an insurance inspector with a large northern concern.
Born in Wigan, he started as a left winger with local club Wigan Athletic before being signed by Preston North End as an 18 year-old in June 1953. He went on to spend 7 seasons at Deepdale playing 64 league games and scoring 6 goals but never fully established himself in the first team. In July he moved to the coast for a season with Blackpool but played only 11 League games. July 1961 saw him signing for Tranmere Rovers where he spent 3 successful seasons, playing a total of 99 League games and scoring 9 League goals.
At the end of the 63-64 season he left League football and re-joined Wigan Athletic (then in the Cheshire League) for a season and won the first of three consecutive Cheshire League championships. Freddie Pye persuaded him to move to Moss Lane and immediately converted him from left-winger to midfield play-maker.
Slightly built, Campbell proved to be an instant success in his new role providing the ammunition for Swindells and company up front. By all accounts nearly everything constructive stemmed from the boot of Les Campbell during the three seasons he played at Moss Lane, a period that saw him win two Championships medals, a runner-up medal and a Cheshire Senior Cup winner's medal. Tragically, he broke his leg twice during the 66-67 season, the first time in a friendly against Manchester City and the second time towards the end of the season when he attempted to come back a little to early to help Altrinchamís run-in to the championship.
The following season injury continued to affect the number of his appearances in the side but whenever he played he was influential and made a difference. He was allowed to leave at the end of the 67/68 season as Altrincham moved up to the newly formed Northern Premier League, Les moving on to Netherfield. Today, he can be seen on match days at Deepdale, where he still helps out.
The Atherton born, solidly built Ian Halliwell was an unsung but very important component in the successful mid-sixties Altrincham side but, unlike so many of his team-mates he did not have any extensive Football League experience. His previous experience was limited to playing for Atherton Collieries and having been on the ground staff at Blackpool for 7 months plus having amateur trials with both Bolton and Bury, which came to nothing.
Halliwell got his chance as a result of a charity match in which Altrincham manager Freddie Pye was also playing. Derek impressed Pye so much by his work rate and commitment that he invited him to Moss Lane for trials during which he played around a dozen matches for the reserves. He was so impressive that he broke into the first team quickly, making his debut (and scoring) in a CLC 2nd round replay against Hyde United, which Altrincham won 7-1 and he didnít miss another game all season.
He signed professional forms just prior to Altrinchamís first ever appearance in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and finished the season with a Cheshire League winner's medal and a League Cup finalist's medal. The following season he was again ever-present, playing in all 50 league cup games and finishing the season with another Championship medal and a CSC winner's medal. The next season he missed only 4 matches as Altrincham finished second in the table. Injury in the 69/70 season meant that Halliwell missed much of the campaign and his career was on the wane.
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