Red N Blue Legends- Alex McGregor Part 2

The Red and Blue

Alex McGregor

Part 2

Red N Blue Legends- Alex McGregor Part 2

In this interview carried on from the previous article, Shots winger from the late 1970's Alex McGregor remembers some of the characters from his time at the club, and brings supporters up to date with what he has been doing since he retired from football.

What work have you been doing since you left football?
When I finished with Farnborough Town I took over as manager of The Sports Company in Aldershot with Max and Maureen. I'm a keen golfer and I wanted to have weekends off so I got myself a job as an engineer with a French company called Crouzet, returning to my former trade. They are involved with aerospace. I spent thirteen or fourteen years with them, and they were on my doorstep. They took my job back to France so that's when I decided to take early retirement and just play a few nice rounds of golf, and that's what I do to this day.

The Aldershot team that you played in in the late 1970's is generally regarded as one of the most entertaining Shots sides to watch of all time. Did you feel that it was the best team that you played in?
It certainly was. Myself and Murray Brodie were very fortunate, him wide on the left and me wide on the right and we had John Dungworth and Andy Needham up front. Yes, we missed out on promotion on three or four occasions by finishing fifth when the top four went up, we were second, third during the season and we just couldn't cross the line. Can I just say that I know John Dungworth was the star, but Andy Needham was such a great partner for him because he used to run and take players away from John to score the goals. Andy never got the credit he deserved because he was a wonderful player and a wonderful lad as well. Last time I saw him he was taxi driving along with Will Dixon at Farnborough railway station, but I haven't seen him for some time now.

Who were your best mates at the club?
It must be Murray Brodie. When we were kids we used to play against each other when we were 12 and 13 because I lived on one side of a roundabout and went to one school and he lived on the other side about half a mile away from me. We didn't know each other, you just knew the name. I played for Shrewsbury against Aldershot and we beat Aldershot 5-2, and after the game in the bar I confronted him and asked him if he was the same Murray Brodie I'd played against all those years ago, and when he said he was, I told him who I was and we became really close friends from then on. Joe Jopling and Malcolm Crosby were close friends as well and the four of us were always together. The last time I saw Joe was a sad occasion, at John Anderson's funeral, and afterwards we went back to Joe's pub in Aldershot and had a few drinks with Joe, Malcolm and the boys. Malcolm's done really well for himself, he's a star. He was always keen on training and when John Anderson used to say 'someone come and do some exercises' in training, it was always Malcolm who used to put us through our exercises. He took Sunderland to the Cup Final and he's at Middlesbrough now. The other player who became well-known of course is Neil Warnock. I always say that I took his place at Aldershot because when I arrived at Aldershot he signed for Barnsley. I'm very pleased for Malcolm though because he's got the success he deserves.

What special memories do you have of Aldershot?
The special memories I have are of signing for Aldershot, and of the support I got from the spectators. The spectators are what makes or breaks you and the support I got was absolutely wonderful. The run we had in the Cup and also Johnnie Anderson's testimonial against Tottenham. To get to the fifth round of the Cup was a wonderful experience, although we lost to my old club Shrewsbury. We beat Sheffield United in that cup run and they had an Argentinian player called Alex Sabella who was a good player. Then we had the Everton game, when I scored, although we lost 4-1.

Tommy MacAnearney has got a bit of a reputation for some of the quotes he allegedly made to you when you played for him, can you remember anything of those?
Tommy was a great one for quotes, some good, some bad. I remember on one occasion when we were losing to a goal we conceded just before half-time, something like the 44th minute. We were all thinking as we went in for half -time that we were going to get a telling off from the boss (Alex didn't use the term 'telling off', but this is a family publication!). When we went in at half-time and we were down, we used to get a cup of tea, sit down and we all looked at the floor, because if he caught your eye, he would single you out for a 'telling off'. So on this occasion, as you can imagine, we were all sitting down when Tom came in. He turned to Johnnie Anderson and said 'John', 'Yes boss', 'What time was the goal scored?' and Johnnie says 'the 44th minute', Tommy then says, 'I won the golden goal'. Of course all dissolved into laughter and that was that. It was a wonderful time and one that remains in my memory.

Who in your opinion was the best player you played with at Aldershot?
The most experienced player was Murray Brodie, but the best player for me was John Dungworth. He was a pleasure to play with and was such a lovely guy. Murray would say the same, that if you were in a difficult position and had to pass the ball, John was always available. You would play a one-two with him and he would put it in the back of the net. It's a shame that he went to my old club Shrewsbury because he was better than going to them. We played 4-2-4 at Aldershot and when he went to Shrewsbury they were playing something like 4-4-2, and he didn't get the service there that he got at Aldershot, and didn't get the number of chances he used to get with us. I was sad that he never really went on and fulfilled his potential. John was always a quiet one in the dressing room but he was a wonderful centre forward.

Who was the best manager you ever played for?
I was very fortunate with Ally McLeod, Eddie Turnbull and Ron Greenwood, but I've got to say that for me it was definitely Eddie Turnbull, who was wonderful to me. It was my first experience as a full-time player and the knowledge and commitment he gave to me when I was at Hibs was fantastic.

What were the main differences between Tommy Mac and Len Walker?
I never spent a long time with Lenny, maybe a season. Tommy MacAnearney's knowledge was wonderful, he was so passionate in everything he did. I'll always be very grateful to Tommy for bringing me to Aldershot, and this area and I'm still here living locally. He put me in a club house in Sandy Lane, Church Crookham. I said to him 'I'm staying for a year' and he said 'No, you've got to go and buy a house'. So we bought a house in Pinewood Park and if we hadn't taken that advice to buy our own house, we would have probably moved away from the area, and although we've moved from Pinewood Park, we are still here in the area so that was a lovely thing he did. But he was special, his knowledge of the game was wonderful. We didn't always agree, but nine times out of ten he was right, and he had a wonderful ally in John Anderson. The two of them worked very well together. Tommy was the bad guy and Johnnie was the good guy and that's how it worked.

This article originally appeared in a Shots matchday programme