During this period of enforced football inactivity Linfieldfc.com has provided weekly programme articles on some of our former players.
The series commenced 16 weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past 15 weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee, Eric Bowyer, Tony Gorman, Lindsay Curry, Damien Curran, Colin McCurdy, Martin McGaughey, Roy Walsh, Frankie Parkes, Warren Feeney senior, George O'Boyle, Noel Bailie MBE, Lindsay McKeown and Peter Thompson.
In this week’s article Linfieldfc.com reproduces an article from April 2019 in which the spotlight was focused on loyal 1970s defender Alan Fraser.
CULT HEROES – ALAN FRASER
by James Kennedy
It was the end of the “Swinging 60s” and Linfield Manager Ewan Fenton was faced with the problem of who would succeed 7 Trophy Legend Ken Gilliland.
Up stepped 16 year old Alan Fraser, who signed for The Blues from Hillsborough Scouts aged 14, and September 1969 saw the start of Alan’s decade-plus spell in the 1st Team.
“As the 1970s approached, I was drafted into the senior squad which at the time still included some of the 7 Trophy team, - players like Ken Gilliland and Sammy Hatton, alongside Phil Scott, Bryan Hamilton, Dennis Viollet, and plenty of other experienced players. I made my debut against Crusaders at Seaview and was a regular from them on”.
That first season ended with an Irish Cup final win (the famous 2-1 victory over Ballymena Utd at Solitude marking the last time Linfield would visit that part of North Belfast for 28 years) and a change of manager, with Billy Bingham MBE taking over in the hot seat.
“Wednesday 30th September 1970 was the night when we almost put holders Man City out of the European Cup Winners Cup, and that whole season under Billy was a success with 4 out of the 5 trophies on offer locally ending up at Windsor. And we also won the Blaxnit Cup against Cork Hibernians at Dalymount Park in Dublin despite being weakened by the absence of a number of players, including Bryan Hamilton who was away with the Northern Ireland squad”.
Unfortunately, the manager was to change on a regular basis over the next few seasons, and a relatively barren period in the club’s history ensued until Roy Coyle took over.
“We won the League in 1975, but we had no luck at all in Irish Cup finals, losing 4 out of 5 from 1973 onwards, and I was sent off in one of the games with Coleraine in 1975. And the less said about 1976 the better……”
The latter years of the decade were kinder to club and player alike, with Alan playing his part in 3 Double winning sides (he is proud of his 5 League medals and numerous others).
However, at the end of the 1980/81 season Alan was placed on the transfer list, and his next stop was Mourneview Park, Lurgan.
“Glenavon paid the princely sum of £8000 for me, and I stayed there for 2 seasons. My first trip back to Windsor Park was eventful as Mickey McDonald bagged 5 goals as we won 6-4!”
1983 saw Alan move to Carrick Rangers where an experienced side reached the Irish Cup final at the end of the season, only to lose 4-1 to Ballymena Utd”.
As the end of his playing career approached, Alan started coaching, initially with Carrick Rangers Reserves, and in 1991 he made the step up to management with another of his old teams, Glenavon.
“I was manager there for 3 years, and in that time we beat Linfield in the Irish Cup final, 2-1 at The Oval, while I was in charge on that never to be forgotten day in April 1994 when we led 2-0 against Portadown, had the League title in the bag, but lost out in the end to Linfield who had beaten Glentoran at Windsor Park”.
Further managerial spells at Ballymena Utd and Bangor followed, but these days Alan is a regular visitor to Windsor Park, and was present last Saturday as League title No.53 was secured.
“David Healy is doing a fantastic job, and I love coming back to my old stomping ground. It really does make me feel appreciated when fans of all ages stop and ask for a selfie or an autograph. I was blessed to play with some fantastic players - Phil Scott and Bryan Hamilton were probably the best of them - and it’s great that I am still remembered”.
Alan is pictured below receiving his Life membership award from chairman Roy McGivern in December 2019.