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Crewe Alexandra
Crewe Alexandra crest
Full name Crewe Alexandra Football Club
Nickname(s) The Railwaymen, The Alex
Founded 1877 (as Crewe)
Ground Alexandra Stadium (Gresty Road)
Crewe
(Capacity: 10,153)
Chairman John Bowler
Manager Dario Gradi (Caretaker)
League League Two
2008–09 League One, 22nd (relegated)
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Crewe Alexandra Football Club (pronounced /ˈkruː ælɨɡˈzændrə, -ˈzɑːn-/) are an English football team based at Gresty Road in Crewe, Cheshire and nicknamed The Railwaymen due to the town's historical links with the rail industry.

The club was formed in 1877 and reputedly named after Princess Alexandra (some suggest that the decision to form the club was actually taken in a pub named after the Princess and the club was named after the pub). They were founding members of the Second Division in 1892 but only lasted four years in the Football League. Since re-entering the competition in 1921, they have mostly remained in the lower divisions and have no major honours to their name. They currently are members of Football League Two.

Contents

History

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Early years

Crewe Alexandra were formed in 1877 as Crewe Football Club as a separate organisation from the successful Crewe Cricket Club. Crewe Football Club played their first ever match, against North Staffs, the same year, the match ended 1-1. In 1884, Crewe Alexandra's first match in the FA Cup was against Scottish club Queens Park of Glasgow, losing 10-0. In 1888, the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals, defeating Derby County and Middlesbrough en route, before going out to Preston North End.

Crewe were one of the founding members of the Second Division in 1892, having previously been members of the Football Alliance, but lost their league status in 1896 after only four seasons. The following year, the club managed to sign all their players as professionals. They rejoined the Football League in 1921, during which time a new record of 15,102 packed into Gresty Road to watch Crewe entertain local rivals Stoke City. The Potters won the game 2-0. Crewe earned their first honours by winning the Welsh Cup in 1936 and 1937, before being barred from entering (not least since they were not in Wales). In 1936, Herbert Swindells scored his 100th League goal for Crewe Alexandra. He would go on to score a record 126 goals for the club - a record that still stands today.

1955 saw Crewe embark on a sequence where they did not win away from home for 56 matches. The dismal run ended with a 1-0 win at Southport. One of Crewe's most famous matches took place against Spurs in the FA Cup. A new record attendance of 20,000 saw lowly Crewe hold Spurs to a 2-2 draw. Bert Llewellyn and Merfyn Jones scored for the Railwaymen. In the replay, Tottenham won convincingly 13-2 - still a record defeat for the club. Llewellyn and Nev Coleman scored for Crewe at White Hart Lane.

1961 saw Crewe's most notable win in their history, Jimmy McGuigan's side defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge. That particular Chelsea side contained the former Crewe player Frank Blunstone as well as the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Peter Bonetti and Terry Venables. The Crewe goals were scored by Billy Stark and Barrie Wheatley. Spurs won by a more modest 5-1 in the Fourth Round. In 1963, Crewe gained promotion for the first time in their history with a 1-0 win over Exeter City. Frank Lord became the local hero, scoring the only goal in front a crowd of 9,807. Lord also holds the record for most hat-tricks for the club - he amassed eight hat-tricks during his time at Gresty Road.

A year later, Terry Harkin scored a record 35 league goals for a season. 1977 saw Tommy Lowry play his record-breaking 475th and last game for the Railwaymen. 1979 would see manager Warwick Rimmer's most notable signing when Bruce Grobbelaar joined Crewe and played his first match against Wigan Athletic. During the season he would score from the penalty spot against York City and kept 8 clean-sheets in his 24 matches played. In the same year the club went a record 15 matches without winning at Gresty Road. The period from the 1950s to the early 1980s were generally not a successful time for the Alex, and few would have argued with Michael Palin's comment, in the 1979 BBC Great Railway Journeys of the World documentary when, in a shot over Gresty Road filmed from the roof of the adjacent Rail House he described Crewe as "like those other railway towns, Swindon and Doncaster, possessed of a football team which is perpetually propping up the bottom of the Fourth Division". Indeed, between 1894 and 1982, Crewe finished in last place in the Football League eight times. Its eight last-place finishes are the most of any league club.

Crewe started to sing Blue Moon on 22 April 1988 away against Stockport.[citation needed] Crewe's fans were the first ever to sing the famous football song "Blue Moon" (with lyrics that do not quite match the Rodgers and Hart original). The song was sung to represent the gloomy days at Gresty Road during the mid-1900s and also reflects the colour of the Alex away strip which only the more steadfast and determined fans would travel to see. Since then Manchester City have copied the chant and it is often sung by their fans, whom often mistakingly claim that they were the first to use it.

The Gradi era

In June 1983, Crewe appointed Milan-born Dario Gradi as manager. At that time, Crewe had again just avoided being voted out of the Football League. Gradi quickly gained a reputation for developing young talent, Gradi let Steve Walters become the youngest ever player to pull on a Crewe shirt: aged just 16 years and 119 days he played against Peterborough United on 6 May. Gradi's efforts paid off in 1989 when Crewe won promotion to the Third Division. They went back down two years later, but were promoted again in 1994. In the same year, Neil Lennon became the first Crewe Alexandra player to gain an International cap for 60 years when he was selected to play for Northern Ireland against Mexico. Gradi then led his charges to the unprecedented height of Division One in 1997, after victory over Brentford in the Division Two playoff final, and kept his team there until 2002, despite a club income on which many more lowly clubs could not survive.

After one season in the Division Two the club were promoted back to Division One at the end of the 2002-03 season, having finished in second place; the first time the club had finished in the top two of any division, and the club prepared for life in the newly named 'championship' formerly known as Division 1.

Although managing to retain their place in the renamed Championship in the 2003-04 season, at the start of the 2004-05 season they were rated one of the likeliest teams to be relegated. In the event, they put in a good showing in the first half of the season; comfortably in the top half of the table, but after selling Dean Ashton to Norwich City for a record £3 million in the January 2005 transfer window, Crewe failed to win any more games until the final match of the season, when they defeated Coventry City 2-1 and narrowly escaped relegation on goal difference, Crewe having a GD of -20 and Gillingham -21.

The following year they were not so fortunate. Despite a good run towards the end of the season, they were relegated to League 1 at the end of the 2005-06 season.

Crewe were named the 'Most Admired Club' in the 2006 Football League Awards, sponsored by The League Paper and FourFourTwo Magazine.[1]

Prior to their 3-0 home defeat to Bradford, the club learnt that their previous chairman, Norman Rowlinson, had died of cancer at the age of 83. The club then held a minute's silence for Rowlinson at their next home game, against Huddersfield Town.

Gradi legacy

As of the summer of 2007, Gradi was the longest serving manager in English league football; he celebrated his 1,000th game in charge of Crewe on 20 November 2001 - an away fixture at Carrow Road, the home of Norwich City F.C., and completed 24 years in sole charge of the club, although assistant manager Neil Baker took temporary charge between 22 September and 17 October 2003 while Gradi underwent heart surgery. Crewe only managed one point while Baker was in charge.

During Gradi's control, the club gained a strong reputation for its youth policy, and gained official status as an FA Youth Academy. By concentrating on developing its own players the club remained profitable (a rare thing in lower division football at the time) by selling them on after they have gained experience with Crewe. The Academy is known to stress technical excellence, which accords with Gradi's aim to have his sides play attractive, passing football.

Players who passed through the ranks at Crewe include the England international players Geoff Thomas, David Platt and Rob Jones, Welshman Robbie Savage, and Northern Ireland internationals Neil Lennon and Steve Jones (Platt was the most successful, totalling more than £20 million in transfers and captaining the England team). All these were youngsters signed from other clubs, but Gradi also had considerable success in nurturing Crewe's own trainees - notably full England internationals Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson and Dean Ashton and Wales international David Vaughan.

On 20 April 2007 Crewe Alexandra announced that, as of 1 July 2007, Gradi would take up a new role as the club's Technical Director whilst gradually allowing newly appointed first-team coach Steve Holland control of the team.

The transition to a new manager

Holland's first season in this role, 2007-08, was a disappointment as the club narrowly avoided relegation after finishing 20th with 50 points. [1] That summer Holland spent half a million pounds on new signings with Calvin Zola and Anthony Elding suspected of accounting for the bulk of the money spent. He also brought in new goalkeepers for outgoing Ben Williams and Owain fon Williams in the form of Steve Collis and Adam Legzdins. Nicky Maynard was rumoured to be on his way out of Gresty Road, and eventually it was announced that Bristol City had bought him for a club record fee of £2.25 million. However, despite a positive pre-season, including a win over Premiership club Hull City, these changes to the team did not help in the league, with the team taking only 9 points from the first 16 games.

Following pressure from fans the board relieved Steve Holland of his duties as first team coach. This left the position of manager open, and with a league game approaching, the club took the opportunity to re-appoint Gradi as caretaker manager until a new manager was found. Gradi's first game back in charge was a 3-0 defeat at home to local rivals Stockport County. On 24 December 2008 the Icelandic former manager of local rivals Stoke City, Gudjon Thordarson, was appointed as Holland's successor, though Gradi remained in charge of the team for a further six days – and he oversaw the club's first away win of the season, 4-1 at Hartlepool. Thordarson's first game in charge was a 2-2 draw away at Millwall in the FA Cup 3rd round, while Gradi resumed his role of Technical Director, but although Thordarson received the Manager of the Month award for February, the team then went on a poor end-of-season run, in which they did not win for 10 games, and were relegated back down to League Two.

On 18 June 2009, Steve Davis was appointed Assistant Manager to Gudjon Thordarson. Davis left his role as manager of Nantwich Town F.C., where he spent 5 successful years, resulting in two promotions. Davis replaced former assistant Neil Baker who was moved to a new scouting role within the club.

On 2 October, after Thordarson had been sacked as Crewe manager,[2] Dario Gradi was reinstated as caretaker manager in time for the following day's match against Rotherham.

Stadium

Picture of Alexandra Stadium.

Officially known since 2000 as The Alexandra Stadium, the ground which has been occupied by the club since 1898 will likely always be known as Gresty Road to the fans.

The ground is composed of four stands:

  • The Air Products Stand, (formerly the Railtrack Stand, before a change in sponsors), built in 2000 at a cost of £5.2 million. It accommodates 6,809 spectators, together with the club's office accommodation.
  • The AB Nutrition Stand, (formerly The Advance Personnel Stand, before a change in sponsors)[3] - also known as the Gresty Road End, accommodates 982 spectators and 4 disabled spectators.
  • The Wulvern Housing Stand, also known as the Railway End, accommodates 682 spectators.
  • The BMW Bluebell Stand, formerly the Pop Side, accommodates 1,680 away spectators.

Honours

Players

As of 03 February 2010.[4]

Current squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
2 England DF John Brayford
3 England DF Billy Jones
4 England MF Steven Schumacher
5 England DF Danny O'Donnell
6 Cameroon DF Patrick Ada
8 England FW Clayton Donaldson
10 Democratic Republic of the Congo FW Calvin Zola
11 Jamaica MF Joel Grant
12 England DF Mat Mitchel-King (captain)
13 England GK Adam Legzdins
14 England FW Byron Moore
15 England FW Shaun Miller
16 England MF James Bailey
No. Position Player
18 England MF Luke Murphy
19 England MF Ashley Westwood
20 England MF Danny Shelley
21 England MF Chris Clements
22 England FW AJ Leitch-Smith
23 England DF Matthew Tootle
27 England DF Harry Worley (on loan from Leicester City)
28 England MF Simon Walton (on loan from Plymouth Argyle)
30 England DF Carl Martin
31 England GK Steve Phillips (on loan from Bristol Rovers)
32 England FW Alex Titchiner
33 England DF Kelvin Mellor
34 England FW Danny Gardner
35 England DF Chris Stokes (on loan from Bolton Wanderers)

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
26 England DF Harry Davis (on loan at Nantwich Town)

Crewe Alexandra L.F.C

Crewe Alexandra also have a ladies team that currently competes in the FA Women's Northern Premier League.

International players

Algeria
England
Nigeria
Northern Ireland
Trinidad and Tobago
Wales
Zimbabwe

1John Pearson is the only player to represent England at full international level (ie: not at schoolboy, under-17, under 21, etc) while on the books of Crewe Alexandra.

Management

Current management and coaching staff

Name Nationality Role
Steve Davis  England Assistant Manager
Dario Gradi MBE  England Caretaker Manager/Technical Director
James Collins  England Assistant Academy Director
Neil Critchley  England Assistant Academy Director
Andy Franks  England Fitness Coach
Phil Swift  England Academy Recruitment Officer
Paul Anthrobus  England Academy Operations Manager

Past managers

As of 29 December 2009. Only competitive matches are counted.

Name Nat From To Record
P W D L Win %
W.C. McNeill
(Secretary-Manager)
England August 1892 May 1894 50 12 10 28 24.00
J.G. Hall
(Secretary-Manager)
England August 1895 May 1896 31 5 3 23 16.13
R. Roberts
(Secretary-Manager)
England January 1897 December 1897 0 0 0 0 NA
J.B. Bloomley
(Secretary-Manager to 1911
Honorary Secretary to 1925)
England January 1898 May 1925 169 56 44 69 33.14
Tom Bailey England August 1925 May 1938 578 223 113 242 38.58
George Lillycrop England August 1938 July 1944 45 20 7 18 44.44
Frank Hill Scotland July 1944 October 1948 102 45 19 38 44.12
Arthur Turner England October 1948 December 1951 149 56 39 54 37.58
Harry Catterick England December 1951 June 1953 74 31 11 32 41.89
Ralph Ward England June 1953 May 1955 96 25 28 43 26.04
Maurice Lindley England August 1955 May 1958 143 23 28 92 16.08
Harry Ware England August 1958 May 1960 100 36 22 42 36.00
Jimmy McGuigan England June 1960 November 1964 222 87 50 50 39.19
Ernie Tagg England November 1964 October 1970 273 105 69 99 38.46
Tom McAnearney Scotland October 1970 July 1971 34 14 7 13 41.18
Dennis Viollet England August 1971 November 1971 15 4 2 9 26.67
Jimmy Melia England May 1972 December 1973 70 16 23 31 22.86
Ernie Tagg England January 1974 December 1974 48 13 12 23 27.08
Harry Gregg Northern Ireland January 1975 May 1978 163 53 53 57 32.52
Warwick Rimmer England August 1978 May 1979 46 6 14 26 13.04
Tony Waddington England June 1979 July 1981 93 24 27 42 25.81
Arfon Griffiths England August 1981 October 1982 59 9 10 40 15.25
Peter Morris England November 1982 June 1983 33 8 7 18 24.24
Dario Gradi1 EnglandItaly June 1983 July 2007 1235 460 474 301 37.25
Dario Gradi2 / Steve Holland3 EnglandItaly / England July 2007 November 2008 72 19 16 37 26.39
Dario Gradi4 EnglandItaly November 2008 December 2008 9 3 1 5 33.33
Gudjon Thordarson Iceland December 2008 October 2009 37 12 7 18 32.43
Dario Gradi4 EnglandItaly October 2009 current 14 5 3 6 35.71

1As sole Manager. Between 22 September and 17 October 2003, Gradi underwent heart surgery. Assistant Manager Neil Baker took charge of the team for this period (P6, W0, D1, L5).
2As Technical Director
3As First Team Coach
4As Caretaker Manager

References

  1. ^ Crewe Delighted With Award CreweAlex.premiumtv.co.uk. Retrieved 4 July 2006
  2. ^ Thordarson sacked as Crewe boss BBC Sport; 2 October 2009
  3. ^ Official Announcement Crewe Alexandra
  4. ^ "First Team". Crewe Alexandra F.C.. http://www.crewealex.premiumtv.co.uk/page/ProfilesDetail/0,,10414,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 

External links

Coordinates: 53°5′14″N 2°26′8″W / 53.08722°N 2.43556°W / 53.08722; -2.43556


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