The latest in a series of profiles and interviews, Orginal Fat Bob gives his personal view on the life and career of a footballing guest, before sitting down for a chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Alan Foggon.
1. The Overview – the man and his career
Alan was one of my favourite players whom the crowd loved as well, when he played for the Boro in their famous promotion team of 1973/74. Utilised by our manager Jack Charlton as a super-fast forward, founded on his performances as a junior sprint champion, He latched onto through balls played over the top by Bobby Murdoch and Graeme Souness and although opposing teams knew the tactic, it didn’t stop him becoming our leading goal scorer at the end of that famous promotion season.
He was born in West Pelton, County Durham and made his first-team debut for Newcastle United, just days before his 18th birthday in a 0–0 draw at Arsenal. Alan talked to me about his first games in Europe when he made two appearances as a substitute. He is remembered famously by the Magpies for the second leg of the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final in Budapest. His shot on goal was pushed onto the crossbar by the Újpest keeper, then he followed it up to lash the ball into the net and make it 3–2 on the night, 6–2 on aggregate. It was a night that he will never forget, and he still had a smile on his face when he was recounting it, indelibly imprinted in his memory.
Boro signed him at the age of 22 from Cardiff City in 1972, initially on loan, which was another astute signing by Stan Anderson at Boro, but was largely due to the scouting talents and contacts of the late Harold Shepherson. Alan had wanted to return to the North East of England and he made his debut for us on Saturday 25th November when he came on as a substitute in a 2 0 defeat at home to Swindon. He went on to make over 105 league appearances for Boro, 10 as a substitute, scoring over 45 goals, which is a quite impressive goal scoring ratio to games played.
After he left the Boro in 1976, he had brief stints with Rochester Lancers and Hartford Bicentennials in the United States before moving to Manchester United. He only made three league outings at Old Trafford before he switched to Sunderland.
Later moves took him to Southend United, Hartlepool United (loan), Consett. and Whitley Bay. He finished his career as one of only a handful of footballers who have played for all the big three football clubs in the North East.
He is a quiet, almost shy man, but he was quick to point out with a grin, that despite his Geordie roots, his son who was sat next to him, is a smoggy, having been born during Alan’s time on Teesside.
As an aside, he thinks that Tony Pulis is a good appointment for the Boro as he is thorough, and all his teams have been hard to beat, based on a solid defence. He thinks Gestede is a big tough forward and well-seasoned professional.
Alan wishes us well, however he acknowledges that we will have to go through a transitional period before achieving promotion as our current performances are quote “dire!” unquote.
2. The Interview – a quick chat
OFB: What year did you join Boro as a professional footballer?
OFB: Where did you stay? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?
AF: I lived in Hartburn, Stockton in my own house.
OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player and others that you have played with?
AF: Bobby Murdoch, Graeme Souness and all of the 73/74 promotion team.
OFB: Who were the best and worst trainers in the team?
AF: Me and Me!
OFB: When did the team travel for away games, how did they get there, by bus or by train?
AF: We usually travelled by using the team coach the day before playing a game, but if we played in London we sometimes travelled by train.
OFB: How many players usually travelled and did the Directors travel with you?
AF: Usually there were 13 players and the Directors used to travel with us on the coach.
OFB: Did you have nice hotels or was it just bed and breakfast?
AF: We always stayed in nice hotels and when we played in London stayed at the Waldorf.
OFB: Who did you room with for away matches?
AF: Bobby Murdoch.
OFB: Who was the joker in the team?
AF: David (Spike) Armstrong.
OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes or pranks that were played?
AF: Absolutely none that you can put into print!
OFB: Whose boots did you clean as an apprentice?
AF: Jim Iley (Ex Newcastle United Captain)
OFB: Did you try and emulate your style of play, on any individual player who played in your position?
AF: No, I always played my own game with my own individual style of play.
OFB: What was your most memorable game, your own individual performance and best experience with the fans?
AF: I have a few memorable games. The Fairs cup games for Newcastle United. The Boro game against Oxford when Bobby Murdoch scored.
The best experience with our fans was when we won at Luton 1 0, during our promotion season in March 1974. Boro clinched the 2nd Division Championship with a goal from David Mills. and we travelled back from London with our fans on the train and I’ll never forget it.
OFB: What was your worst game or experience and why?
AF: Every game that I played in and lost was my worst game and experience.
OFB: Is there a game that you wished you had played in, either for Boro or another team?
AF: I would have loved to have played for Boro and won the League Cup at Cardiff.
OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had and why?
AF: Jack Charlton, his record at Boro speaks for itself.
OFB: Who was in your opinion the manager that had the greatest influence on your career and why?
AF: Stan Anderson, I will always be grateful to, for rescuing me from Cardiff, as it allowed me to go on and become part of Big Jack’s team.
OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you fear playing against?
AF: I hated playing against West Ham and particularly Billy Bonds because he was so big and strong.
OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you like playing against?
AF: (Laughing!) All the teams I played against and scored a goal.
OFB: Who is your favourite Boro player of all time and why?
AF: Bobby Murdoch, because he and Jack Charlton taught us and helped us all to develop as players. We learned so much, which was of great benefit to us and assisted our careers in football.
OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player and why?
AF: I’m afraid I haven’t seen enough of the Boro team to form an opinion.
OFB: How do you think the match day has changed from the time that you played professional football to the present day?
AF: The game is much quicker these days than when I played football and the players are a lot fitter too.
OFB: If you could be a fly on the wall, is there any dressing room you would wish to eavesdrop on?
AF: Yes, I’d like to listen into the Manchester City dressing room, it could be interesting.
OFB: Do you have any regrets in your career, or missed opportunities?
AF: You only make decisions which are right at the time, but later can prove to have been the wrong one. So you only have yourself to blame.
OFB: Do you still follow the Boro and their results
OFB: Whereabouts in the Country do you live these days?
AF: Jarrow, Tyne & Wear
OFB: Whom have you made a lifelong friend through football?
AF: Bob Moncur and Jim Smith from Newcastle United.
OFB: Finally, if you hadn’t had a professional career as a footballer, what do you think you would have done as a career?
AF: I’ve no idea I started playing for a club at 13 and signed for Newcastle at 15 years old.
OFB: A huge thank you Alan, for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and our readers.