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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 02, 2014

By Tony Matthews

Ally Robertson

Ally Robertson

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JOHN ROBERTS was a solid central defender whose career spanned 22 years.

Born in Abercynon near Swansea in September 1946, he played for his local club side before joining Swansea Town as an apprentice in June 1963, turning professional at the vetch Field in July 1964 … shortly after the Swans had been beaten in the FA Cup semi-final.

He moved from South Wales to Northampton Town in November 1967 and two years later switched to Arsenal for a fee of £35,000. A year after helping the Gunners win the League title in 1971, he was transferred to Birmingham City, signed by manager Freddie Goodwin for £140,000.

Over the next four seasons he scored once in 79 appearances for Blues who sold him to Wrexham in August 1976. He played in over 150 games for the Welsh club, gaining a Third Division championship winner's medal in 1978 as well as Welsh Cup winner's and runner's-up prizes.

His next club was Hull City (from August 1980 to July 1981) and his last, as player-manager, was Oswestry Town. He retired in June 1983 with almost 500 club appearances under his belt, plus 22 full, one U21 and five U23 caps for Wales. John went on to work as a stationery salesman and as a driving instructor.

KEN ROBERTS was a well-built, hard-shooting reserve inside-forward who found the net seven times in his 46 appearances for Aston Villa between 1951 and July 1958.

Born in Crewe in March 1931, Ken – nicknamed 'Shunter' – played for Crewe Villa and Cardiff City before moving to Villa Park.

On leaving the club he signed for Sutton Town and went on to assist Wellington Town, Stourbridge (1962-64), Redditch United, Bedworth Town and Kynochs, retiring in 1971.

Ken who also played cricket for Kynoch's and Lea Marston … he was a team-mate of mine in the early 1980s.

K.O. (KEN) ROBERTS – no relation to Ken Roberts (above) – was also an Aston Villa player who served the club for five years, from May 1953 until his retirement through injury in May 1958.During that time he scored three goals in 38 appearances as an outside-right.

Born in Rhosmedre near Wrexham in March 1936, K.O. (everyone referred to him by his initials) was an amateur with Wrexham for whom he made his league debut at the age of 15 years and 158 days against his future employers Bradford Park Avenue in September 1951 – before moving to the Midlands.

He had a short loan spell with Boston United in 1953 and after leaving Villa Park, remained in football until the later 1990s, serving in turn, with Oswestry Town (trainer/coach,1958-61), Wrexham (trainer/coach, assistant-manager and scout, 1961-67), Bradford Park Avenue (assistant-manager, season 1967-68), Chester City (manager and general manager, 1976-82), Wrexham again (chief scout and Youth Development Officer, 1982-90), Cefn Druids (manager, 1991-92) and Chester City, for a second time (Youth Development Officer, 1995-97).

STEVE ROBERTS was a midfield player who scored once in 21 appearances for Walsall before announcing his retirement in October 2009 due to a back injury.

Born in Wrexham in February 1980, Steve played for his home town club and Doncaster Rovers before joining the Saddlers in July 2008. He won one full, one U17, six U19 and three U21 caps for Wales and won the Football League trophy with Wrexham.

ALLY ROBERTSON scored 12 goals in 626 appearances for Albion before playing in 136 competitive games for rivals Wolves.

Born in Philipstoun, Lothian, Scotland in September 1952, Ally was a defender with Bridgend Junior & East Lothian Schools, Linlithgow Academy (August 1966) and Uphall Saints prior to joining the Baggies as an apprentice in July 1968, turning professional in September 1969.

He left The Hawthorns for Molineux on a free transfer in September 1986 and after four years with Wolves went to serve with Worcester City (manager, July 1990-May 1991) and Cheltenham Town (manager, May 1991-May 1992).

Now resident in Kinver near Stourbridge, Ally is employed as business manager for BMW Rybrook Shrewsbury Ltd.

Ally was just 17 when he made his League debut for Albion against high-flying Manchester United before a 45,000 Hawthorns crowd in October 1969. He went on to serve Albion through thick and thin, performing as a steady, unobtrusive central-defender, sending in challenges with his powerful shoulders and getting in some crunching tackles, not all of them legal!

He drew up a fine understanding with fellow defender John Wile and together the duo appeared in 573 games in Albion colours. They helped the club gain promotion from Division Two in 1976 and reach three major Cup semi-finals, while also containing some of the best strikers in Europe via the UEFA Cup competition.

In 1979 Robertson passed Jimmy Dudley's record of 166 consecutive League appearances for Albion, and when he left for Molineux only two players – Tony Brown and Wile – had played in more League games for the Baggies. In fact, Robertson's grand total of 718 + 11 substitute appearances for Albion (all games, including friendlies) makes him the second highest appearance maker in the club's history, behind 'Bomber' Brown.

He also played in 112 Central League games. When only 18 years of age, Robertson broke a leg playing against Charlton in a League Cup tie at The Hawthorns, but he bounced back in style and went roaring on towards the top, becoming one of Albion's finest defenders.

As a youngster he won four Scottish Schoolboy caps and added six youth caps to his tally over a period of three years, 1968-70, but he failed to get any full international recognition, hard through he tried. In five seasons (1975-80) he missed only seven League games out of a possible 210, as Albion strove to establish themselves back among the big boys of the First Division.

As a 'Wolf' he won Fourth Division championship and Sherpa Van Trophy medals in 1987–88, starring for the Wanderers at Wembley against Burnley in the latter competition.

He then added a Third Division championship medal to his collection the very next season when he skippered the team which included three other ex-Albion players, Steve Bull, Robbie Dennison and Andy Thompson.

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