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Crewe Alexandra F.C

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Crewe Alexandra F.C

Crewe Alexandra
Crewe Alexandra crest
Full name Crewe Alexandra Football Club
Nickname(s) The Railwaymen, The Alex
Founded 1877 (as Crewe)
Ground Alexandra Stadium
Ground Capacity 10,153
Chairman John Bowler
Manager Steve Davis
League League One
2012–13 League One, 13th
Website Club home page
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Crewe Alexandra Football Club (/ˈkr ælɨɡˈzændrə/ or /-ˈzɑːn-/) is a professional association football club based in Crewe, Cheshire, England. Nicknamed The Railwaymen due to the town's links with the rail industry, they play in Football League One, the third tier in the English football league system, and are based at the Alexandra Stadium.

The club was formed in 1877 and reputedly[1] named after Princess Alexandra, though some suggest they are named after The Princess public house in which the club was formed. 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. Crewe's only major honour is the Football League Trophy which they won in 2013. They have also won several minor trophies, including the Cheshire Premier Cup and the Cheshire Senior Cup.

In recent decades the club has been associated with manager Dario Gradi, whose 24-year tenure between 1983 and 2007 made him at that time the longest-serving manager in English football; he had a further two-year spell in the role from 2009 to 2011. Gradi is known for focusing on youth development and promoting attractive, technical football. Notable players brought through the Crewe youth system include former internationals Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson and Dean Ashton. Other notable players to have made their name at Crewe in that time include Geoff Thomas, David Platt and Robbie Savage.


Early years (1877–1921)

Crewe Alexandra were formed in 1877 as Crewe Football Club, separate from the successful Crewe Cricket Club. They played their first match against North Staffs that same year, a match that 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.


Crewe rejoined the Football League in 1921, during which season a record crowd of 15,102 packed into Gresty Road to watch Crewe entertain local rivals Stoke City, a game The Potters won 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 went on to score 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. Tottenham convincingly won the replay 13–2, which remains a record defeat for the club. Llewellyn and Nev Coleman scored for Crewe.

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 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, eight 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 was generally not a successful time for the club, 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, more than any other league club.

Crewe's fans were the first to sing the famous football song "Blue Moon" (with lyrics that do not quite match the Rodgers and Hart original). The song was a response to the gloomy days at Gresty Road during the mid-1900s, and reflects the colour of the Alex away strip, which only the more steadfast and determined fans would travel to see. The song has since been sung by fans of Manchester City, although their rendition was highlighting the colour of their strips as opposed to simply copying Crewe's supporters which has been a trending ideology amongst Crewe followers.

Gradi era (1983–2007)

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, allowing Steve Walters to 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 Division One in 1997, after victory over Brentford in the Division Two play-off final, and kept his team there until 2002, despite a club income on which many more lowly clubs could not survive. Meanwhile, Gradi celebrated his 1,000th game in charge of Crewe on 20 November 2001 – an away fixture at Carrow Road, the home of Norwich City.

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 Division 1.

Although managing to retain their place in the Division 1 in the 2003–04 season, at the start of the 2004–05 season they were rated one of the likeliest teams to be relegated from the newly renamed 'Championship'. 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. The following year they were not so fortunate. Despite a good run towards the end of the 2005–06 season, they were relegated to League 1.

Crewe were named the "Most Admired Club" in the 2006 Football League Awards, sponsored by The League Paper and FourFourTwo Magazine.[2]

Player development

During Gradi's tenure the club gained a reputation for its youth policy, and earned official status as an FA Youth Academy. By concentrating on developing its own players the club remained profitable (a rarity 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 and David Platt, Welsh international 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 – most notably full England internationals Rob Jones, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson and Dean Ashton and Wales international David Vaughan.


By the summer of 2007, Gradi was the longest-serving manager in English league football; he had 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). On 20 April 2007 Crewe Alexandra announced that, from 1 July 2007, Gradi would take up a new role as the club's Technical Director while gradually allowing newly appointed first-team coach Steve Holland control of the team.

Holland's first season in this role, 2007–08, was a disappointment as the club narrowly avoided relegation after finishing 20th with 50 points.[3] 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 Fôn Williams in the form of Steve Collis and Adam Legzdins. Striker Nicky Maynard was rumoured to be on his way out of Gresty Road, and eventually Bristol City signed 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 team changes did not help in the league, and Crewe took only 9 points from their 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 re-appointed Gradi as caretaker manager until a replacement could be 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. 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 suffered a poor end-of-season run, in which they did not win for 10 games and were relegated 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, where he spent five successful years, gaining two promotions. Davis replaced former assistant Neil Baker, who was moved to a new scouting role within the club.

Return of Dario Gradi (2009–2011)

On 2 October 2009, after nine months in charge, Thordarson was sacked after a run of poor results.[4] Dario Gradi was reinstated as caretaker manager in time for the following day's match against Rotherham. With the club on course to finish in a relatively safe mid-table position, despite lingering close to the playoff places for the majority of the season, another run of poor form saw the club finish in 18th place, only five places above the relegation zone. Gradi responded to this disappointment by refusing to take the team on a pre-season tour, stating that he "doesn't want to reward the players for what happened this season". A week later, on 19 May, the club sold two of their most promising players, defender John Brayford and midfielder James Bailey, to Derby County for a fee thought to be around £1 million, which could rise significantly if certain clauses are met.

The club finished 10th in League Two in their 2010–11 season and also ended up having the League 2 golden boot winner: Clayton Donaldson scored 29 goals, but moved to Brentford in July 2011.

On 10 November 2011, the club announced that Dario Gradi had stepped down as manager and would return to his previous role as Director of Football focusing on youth development.[5]

Seasons 2011–2013

Steve Davis was appointed manager, and led the team to a 16-match unbeaten run in early 2012 up to 7th position, earning the club a play-off place.[6] Crewe defeated Southend United in the semi-final with a 1–0 win at home in the first leg and a 2–2 draw at Roots Hall, extending the unbeaten run to a club-record 18 matches[7] and securing a play-off final against Cheltenham Town at Wembley on 27 May 2012 which they won 2–0 and earned promotion.

Before the 2012–2013 season started, Crewe sold Nick Powell to Manchester United, and on transfer deadline day (31 August 2012) captain Ashley Westwood was sold to Aston Villa. However, with new players coming into the first team, Crewe won the Football League Trophy, beating Southend United 2–0 in the final at Wembley in April 2013.[8] The team finished 13th in League One, ending the season by fielding a team whose starting 11 were all Crewe Academy graduates.[9][10]

While on a pre-season tour in July 2013 seven players were arrested and bailed over an alleged rape.[11]


Main article: Alexandra Stadium

Officially known since 2000 as The Alexandra Stadium, the ground 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 Absolute Recruitment Stand, (formerly The Mark Price Stand, before a change in sponsors)[12] – 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 Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van Stand, formerly the Pop Side, accommodates 1,680 away spectators.



As of 12 September 2012.[13]

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
1 England GK Steve Phillips (Player-goalkeeping coach)
2 England DF Matt Tootle
3 England DF Kelvin Mellor
4 England DF Harry Davis
5 England DF Mark Ellis
6 England DF Adam Dugdale
7 England FW Max Clayton
8 Ghana MF Abdul Osman (captain)
9 Guinea FW Mathias Pogba
10 England FW AJ Leitch-Smith
11 England MF Byron Moore
12 Wales DF George Ray
13 Scotland GK Alan Martin
14 Scotland MF Bradden Inman
No. Position Player
15 Scotland DF Gregor Robertson
16 England DF Jon Guthrie
18 England MF Liam Nolan
19 England FW Vadaine Oliver
20 England DF Oliver Turton
21 England GK Ben Garratt
22 England MF George Evans (on loan from Manchester City)
23 England MF Michael West
24 England DF Lee Molyneux
25 France DF Thierry Audel
26 England MF Chuks Aneke (on loan from Arsenal)
27 England MF Ryan Colclough
29 England MF Billy Waters
42 England MF Anthony Grant

Youth Academy

Crewe Alexandra L.F.C

Crewe Alexandra also have a ladies team that currently competes in the North West Women's Regional Football League Premier Division.

Full international players

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


Current Management & Coaching Staff

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

Past managers

As of 10 May 2013. Only competitive matches are counted.

Name Nat From To Record
P W D L Win %
W.C. McNeill
England August 1892 May 1894 50 12 10 28 24.00
J.G. Hall
England August 1895 May 1896 31 5 3 23 16.13
R. Roberts
England January 1897 December 1897 0 0 0 0 !
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 85 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 Wales 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 1,235 460 474 301 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 November 2011 58 18 17 23 31.03
Steve Davis[14] England November 2011 current 97 42 25 30 43.30

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


External links

  • Crewe Alexandra F.C. on Club statistics
  • Crewe Alexandra Soccerbase

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

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