Crewe Alexandra Football Club
Crewe Alexandra Football ClubIntroductionThe Early
Crewe Alexandra Football Club
Over the years, Crewe Alexandra has rightly earned the reputation of a “giant killing” lower league team, knocking some of the giants out of FA Cup competition. Despite remaining in the lower reaches of the football league for the majority of their history, they have also earned the reputation of nurturing many great players at youth level, including former England captain David Platt.
The club currently play in the Coca Cola Division One and are based at The Alexandra Stadium, Gresty Road, Crewe.
The Early Years
Crewe Alexandra Football Club was formed in 1877 and was reputedly named after a local pub, The Princess Alexandra, which was also the place where the name was chosen. From very early on, the club also earned the nickname of “The Railwaymen”, owing to the importance of Crewe as a rail industry hub.
They played their first ever match against North Staffs the same year, with the game finishing a 1-1 draw. In 1884, in another historical match, they played their first FA Cup tie against Queens Park of Glasgow, but they unfortunately (and remarkably) lost 10-0! There would be good times in the competition just a few years later though as, in 1888, the club remarkably finished as semi-finalists.
When the new Second Division was founded in 1892, Crewe were among the founding members, though they were relegated back to non-league status after only five seasons. Indeed, it was not until the 1920s that Crewe finally rejoined the football league, by which time they had a sizeable and very enthusiastic fan base. In a game with Stoke City in the 1920s, a crowd of 15,102 packed into Gresty Road, a record that was not broken until their fateful FA Cup tie with Spurs in 1955 – when a record 20,000 people packed into the Gresty Road stadium to witness minnows Crewe hold mighty Spurs to a 2-2 draw. Embarrassingly, however, in the replay Crewe were trounced 13-2 by Spurs, a record defeat that stands to the present day.
The Glory Years
One of the most famous moments in Crewe Alexandra’s history was their famous FA Cup tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1961. A Chelsea side that included Frank Blunstone, Jimmy Greaves, Peter Bonetti and Terry Venables were brought to their knees on their home turf, as Crewe won the game 2-1. As ever with Crewe, their fortunes were mixed though, and in the next round they were thrashed once again by Spurs, although only 5-1 this time!
Cup glory was eventually followed by league success as, in 1963, Crewe were triumphantly promoted to the First Division, finishing the job with a 1-0 defeat of Exeter City – Frank Lord being the hero with the crucial goal. Apart from this high point in the history of the club, the period between the 1950s and the 1980s was not a hugely successful one for the club and, in 1979, they went a record 15 games without winning a game. It was not until in 1983 when Dario Gradi was appointed Manager of the club that things began to look up once again for the Alex.
The Gradi Era
Milan born Dario Gradi joined Crewe Alexandra in June 1983 as Manager and remains to this day at the club, now in the capacity of Director. He is one of the most widely respected managers in the football league, particularly for his capacity to raise young talent through the youth ranks. He nurtured young player Steve Walters, and gave him his debut for Crewe as the youngest ever player, at the age of 16 years and 119 days, in May 1983.
After a period of slow building, Crewe finally won promotion to the Third Division in 1989. They briefly went back down two years later, but were promoted again in 1994. In the same year, Neil Lennon was the first ever Crewe player to gain an International cap – for Northern Ireland against Mexico.
In 1997, Gradi’s hard graft took Crewe all the way to Division One, as they beat Brentford in the Division Two play-off. Against all precedent and expectations, Gradi kept Crewe in Division 1 until 2002, despite having meagre financial resources in comparison to other clubs at the same level.
A testament to their new resoluteness and quality, after dropping back down to Division Two in 2002, Crewe immediately regained promotion by finishing second place in 2003, their highest ever league position. Crewe managed to retain their position in the newly renamed “Championship” division until the 2005/6 season.
In the summer of 2007, Gradi became the longest serving manager in the English Football League, celebrating his 1000th game in charge against Norwich City. He later took on the position of Director and is gradually giving over control of the management role of the club to former assistant Neil Baker. However, his legacy has been long, great and appreciated by all those involved in the game. With the foundations laid, it is hoped the good times will continue at Crewe.
- Division Two – Runners-up (2002/03)
- FA Cup – Semi-finalists (1888)
- Welsh Cup – Winners (1936, 1937)
- Cheshire Senior Cup – (1910, 1912, 1913, 1923, 2002 and 2003)
- Most league appearances – Tommy Lowry, 436 (1966-78)
- Most league goals – Bert Swindells, 126 (1928-37)
- Highest league goalscorer in a season – Terry Harkin (35, Division 4, 1964-5)
- Most goals in a match – Tony Naylor (5, vs Colchester United on 24th April 1993)
- Biggest victory – 8-0 (vs Hartlepool United, 17th October 1995 and vs Doncaster Rovers, 10th November 1992).
- Biggest defeat – 2-13 (vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup 4th Round replay, 3rd February 1960)
- Record transfer fee paid – £650,000 (to Torquay United for Rodney Jack, August 1998)
- Record transfer received – £3 million (from Derby County for Seth Johnson, June 1999, and from Norwich City for Dean Ashton, January 2005)
The Alexandra Stadium is right next to Crewe Railway Station. When you exit the station, turn left and Gresty Road is the first street on the left.
Gresty Road can be reached by exiting the M6 at Junction 17 if you are coming from the north and Junction 16 if you are approaching it from the south.
From the North – Exit J17 of the M6 (A534) and follow signposts for Crewe/Nantwich, after 6 miles, and having passed the third roundabout in the space of a mile, you pass the Crewe Arms on your left and the Rail Station on your right. Gresty Road is the first left after the station.
From the South – Exit J16 of the M6 (A500) and at the roundabout, follow signs for Crewe. After about two miles, turn right at the roundabout (A5020) towards Crewe; then take the left at the next roundabout; straight on at the next, passing the Rookery Pub on your left and the Brocklebank on your right; then taking the left at the next and final roundabout, you will pass the Crewe Arms Hotel on the right and Crewe Station on the left.
Individual match tickets and season tickets for Crewe Alexandra can be purchased online by following the online ticket link on their website.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets directly from the Gresty Road stadium or by calling the following direct ticket line: 01270 25 26 10
Crewe Alexandra Football Club
The Alexandra Stadium
Tel: 01270 213 041
Web: Crewe Alexandra FC