Walsall player 85. Alan Birch


Personal information

Alan Birch
Date of birth 12 August 1956 (age 60)
Place of birth West Bromwich, England

Playing position Winger

Youth

1972 Walsall as an apprentice

Senior career
Years                     Team                                                   Apps       (Gls)
1973–1979              Walsall                                               191           (24)
1979–1981             Chesterfield                                        90            (35)
1981–1982             Wolverhampton Wanderers           15             (0)
1982–1983             Barnsley                                                44           (10)
1983–1984             Chesterfield                                         32             (5)
1984–1986             Rotherham United                           101           (28)
1986–1987             Scunthorpe United                            23             (2)
1987–1988             Stockport County                               20             (3)
Frickley Athletic                                       ?            ?

Total                                   511          (107)
Alan Birch (born 12 August 1956) is an English former professional footballer who played as a winger, making over 500 career appearances.He is the brother of Paul Birch who played for Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Alan arrived at Walsall as a 16 year old in 1972 after having had some trial games with West Bromwich Albion. He came through his apprentiship and signed professionaling in August/september 1973. Alam was loved by the fans for the enthusiasm and energy he gave on the field, he soon settled into the team and became a regular playing 191 times inclusive of substitute games, and scored 24 goals. He was sold to Chesterfield for a sum of around £40,000 in 1979, two years later he joined Wolves for £180,000 but never settled into the Wolverhampton system. He was sold to Barnsley and then returned to Chesterfield, Rotherham, Scunthorpe United, Stockport County and Frickley Athletic.

Here is an article from the spirites, about Alan’s time with them.

Chesterfield’s capture of Alan Birch was not only Walsall’s loss. Shortly before joining the Spireites he reportedly went to Field Mill for talks and agreed terms with Billy Bingham at Mansfield Town. Apparently, he went for lunch while the contract was drawn up and came back an hour later, to find that the Stags had sacked Bingham! Although the Stags were still keen on him, Birch decided that the move was no longer in his best interests, and the Spireites stepped in, consolidating an interest in Alan that dated back to an excellent performance for the Saddlers at Saltergate in March 1979.

Chesterfield paid £40,000 for Birchy in July 1979. He immediately became a crowd favourite and Alan graced a Chesterfield side enjoying its best spell for thirty years.His tightly-curled perm made him instantly recognisable as he executed the ‘roving brief’ that Arthur Cox gave him.He was allowed and encouraged to take people on, cut in from the wing and unleash powerful shots, and scored a number of memorable goals in this fashion.

The club finished fourth in the Third Division in his first season and one place lower in his second. A string of excellent individual performances attracted a £200,000 bid from Wolverhampton Wanderers and with a financial crisis hanging over the Spireites by a Damoclean thread, the bid was accepted. Much bitterness still surrounds the circumstances of his move to Wolves: They went into voluntary liquidation soon after signing him and re-formed, rescheduling their debts in such a way that Chesterfield did not receive the agreed fee.This was particularly hard on the Spireites, who needed the Wolves money in order to pay of a debt to Leicester so that a Football League-imposed transfer ban might be lifted. Wolves eventually coughed up a total of £177,500, very nearly all they promised, but in the eyes of many Town fans, Wolves were allowed to get away with it in order to keep a ‘big name’ alive: the same bonhomie was not shown to Chesterfield in their hour of need a few seasons later.

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