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Updated: Jul 12

Born on this day in 1950 in West Pelton, near Chester le Street, is Alan Foggon.

A talented schoolboy sprinter as he grew up in Craghead, Alan started out with West Stanley Boys, where he was often the biggest and strongest on the pitch, and became an apprentice at Sid James Park in 1965, turned pro two years later, and made his debut just before turning eighteen. His eye-catching displays up front earned him England Youth caps, and it looked as if he had a very bright future ahead of him.

Amongst his fourteen goals over the next four years was one in the final of the Inter City Fairs Do You Fancy A Go In A Tournament We’ve Just Made Up Cup, before the arrival of Malcolm McDonald pushed him down the pecking order. Fun Fact: In 1970 I was persuaded to attend the mags game against Liverpool, and Foggon missed an absolute sitter when he put the ball over the roof of the Leazes End from a couple of yards out. The Foggon the Tyne indeed.

Off to Cardiff he went, but didn’t like life away from his Craghead home, and moved to Boro after only a season and a bit, arriving in October 1972. His spell on Teesside was the most productive of his career, as he was top scorer in their promotion season of ’73-’74 and understandably something of a hero at Ayresome Park. In 1976 there was a spell in the USA with Hartford Bicentennials and Rochester Lancers “keeping himself fit” before Man Utd came calling, taking him to Old Trafford in the summer of ’76 with the deal done by Tommy Docherty meeting the player in a Montreal hotel during the Olympics. Unfortunately, this is where the wheels began to come off his career, as his fitness, which had always been an issue, was very obviously lacking, and he managed just three games before Utd cut their losses and, in typical Sunderland fashion, we took on a player with a suspect attitude and dodgy fitness in the September. Over that season, his ten appearances came under three managers (Bob Stokoe, Ian McFarlane, and Jimmy Adamson) who oversaw our failed quest to stay in Division One. His debut came alongside fellow debutant Jim Holton in a 1-1 draw at West Ham, who featured former Lads Keith Coleman and Mick McGiven, with Joe Bolton scoring a rare goal to equalise. Foggon looked way off the pace that campaign, although he said of Jimmy Adamson “He surrounded himself with players who’d been with him at Burnley. If you weren’t in the clique, you didn’t play.”

It was no surprise when he moved to Southend at the season’s end, but was loaned to Hartlepool after just half a season. This made him the only player to have turned out for the North East’s “Big Four”, but even that move didn’t work out and he dropped out of the professional game in the summer of ’78 at the age of just 28. Spells with Consett and Whitley Bay followed, but Alan’s story is one of unfulfilled potential, despite those medals with the mags and the smoggies. Of his physique, he said in an interview with the Northern Echo’s Mike Amos “Sometimes it bothers me when people still bang on about me being fat. I’m quite a shy person really. I’ve always been big, I was twelve-and-a-half stones when I was 15 and there wasn’t a picking on us. If I’d been Fatty Foggon, I wouldn’t have played at the level I did and I wouldn’t have been as quick as I was, but you can end up protesting too much. If people think that that’s the way it was, then there’s nothing you can do about it.”

After football, he took on the Wheatsheaf in Spennymoor and then pubs in Jarrow and The Simonside in South Shields, also featuring as player manager for Duggie’s Tavern in Hebburn in the over-40s league, before working in the security business.

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