by Terry Rowley
These pages chronicle the playing legends of Altrincham Football Club. The texts have been kindly supplied by Terry Rowley, joint editor of the Robins' Review matchday programme. The profiles have previously appeared in the Robins' Review.
Herbert Blackshaw's career was unfortunately one of unfulfilled promise due to injuries and the Second World War but in his brief career at Moss Lane he was a part of Altrincham's second period of success.
Altrincham born Herbert joined his local side as a teenager and immediately aroused interest amongst Football League scouts with some outstanding performances on the left wing for Altrincham. Unfortunately he broke his leg in March 1934 after just 12 games and missed the remainder of what was to be a successful season for Altrincham. He recovered in time though to attend trials with Notts County in September 1934, which came to nothing as he was not fully fit and the 34/35 season was one of frustration for the young winger.
The following season, now fully recovered he was asked to trial again with both Manchester City and Sheffield United in July/August 1935, though once more nothing came of it and he completed the season with Altrincham. The following season he was offered terms by Oldham Athletic in October 1936 and his league career was belatedly launched. His time at Altrincham, although brief, had been fruitful picking up a Cheshire Senior Cup Winners medal and a Cheshire League runners-up medal. On joining Oldham Athletic he spent his first year in the reserves but eventually made his first team debut against Hartlepools United in September 1937 and scored on debut in fact he scored in each of his first three games for the first eleven. By the following season he was established first team player, playing 38 games and scoring 9 goals. All told he played a total of 62 games and scored 15 goals before the Second World War curtailed his promising Football League career.
For the curtailed 39/40 season Bert was now a first team regular and played in all three games for Oldham until the season was abandoned. During the war years he first 'guested' for Altrincham in the 1939/40 wartime competition and then played 3 games and scored 1 goal for Carlisle United in the1939/40 wartime season before both clubs closed down. He then returned to play for Oldham in the Northern Regional League when work commitments allowed. He then later surprisingly turned up and played for Luton Town in their first post war season prior to joining Wisbech Town in January 1946 as player/manager. Blackshaw continued playing until sadly on 16th April 1949, against Spalding United, he broke his leg again which forced his retirement from playing. Following retirement from football he worked for many years as a physiotherapist in the physiotherapy department of the North Cambridgeshire Hospital in Wisbech
Blackshaw had trials with the following league clubs:
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|League||FA Cup||L. Cup||League||FA Cup||L. Cup|
|Oldham Athletic||1939/40||3||0||0||1||0||0||Season cancelled|
|Oldham Athletic||1940-41||17||1||0||6||0||0||Wartime football|
Billy Felton had been a miner in the North East with the reputation as a tough, excellent, uncompromising tackler, comfortable at either right or left back, with excellent powers of recovery. He joined Altrincham early in the 1934/35 season after being put on the transfer list by Tottenham Hotspur, initially for fee of £1,000 but reduced to £500 when there were no takers. Altrincham audaciously made an approach for the former International who had captained Spurs on occasions in their promotion side in 1933. The offer was accepted and Felton headed north and made his debut in an FA Cup tie against Timperley Athletic. He was immediately appointed team captain and went on to help Altrincham clinch the runners-up spot in the Cheshire League for the next two seasons.
When Felton arrived at Moss Lane he was in the twilight of his career. Aged 34, he had come along way from his roots as a miner in the north east, playing with success for a number of football league clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur over the course of thirteen seasons, his abilities being recognised with selection for the full England side in 1925 against France, his only cap.
At Moss Lane he proved to be a near ever-present during his five seasons. Rarely injured, he led the side with dedication and total professionalism. Playing primarily as a left back he was just as comfortable on the right. He took on the responsibility as Altrincham's 'dead ball' specialist, even though he had only scored one goal in his professional career. Unusually, he even managed to score a 'hat trick' against Hurst in an 8-1 win, two of the goals being penalties and the third a free kick.
Unfortunately, after finishing second in the league in successive seasons (1934/35 & 1935/36) it was all downhill as Altrincham struggled financially to survive. Always popular with the crowd and his team mates Billy never gave less than his best, even though age was catching up with him. He was eventually appointed player/coach for his final season (1938/39) before retiring just prior to his 39th birthday and the onset of the Second World War.
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Edward 'Teddy' Bullen was a high quality, unfussy, hard working, left half from Warrington who had turned out for Altrincham Reserves in the Manchester Federation League as a teenager during the 1903/04 season without making the first team. His Altrincham career then stalled as he was unable to turn out for Altrincham the following season due to weekend work commitments in Warrington. But by the start of the 1905/06 season his work situation had changed and he made himself available from the beginning of the season and was turning out regularly for Altrincham's first team during the 1905/06 season. Teddy's performances soon drew glowing reviews for his tackling and passing on the left side of the Altrincham midfield. So good was he that during the season he was invited for extended trials at Gigg Lane, Bury, impressing the management sufficiently to be taken on full time during the close season.
It has to be remembered that at this time in their history Bury were a famous 1st Division side that had recently won the FA Cup twice in 1900 &1903. They were now obviously attempting to re-build this successful side but with only limited resources, thus unable to make big name signings they spread their net into the non league game. Despite the rebuilding Bury and Bullen were later to be relegated to the 2nd Division in 1911/12 and there remained in the 2nd division till the outbreak of the First World War when regular football was suspended. Bullen signed up with the army but still made himself available when home on leave, he also turned out for his home town team, Warrington Town, (not connected with the modern day team), when they replaced Denton in the wartime competition organized by the Lancashire Combination. Indeed great interest was generated amongst supporters when Warrington played Altrincham as not only Bullen but a number of other ex Altrincham players were included in the Warrington side like the Whitfield Brothers and Foster lining up against their old side over the course of 4 matches (including 2 friendlies, arranged after the success of the two league matches).
Tragically, Gunner 'Teddy' Bullen was the first Bury player to be killed in action on 11th August 1917. He had served Bury well since joining from Altrincham and a brass plaque was hung in the board room to his memory.
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