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Alan Ball born, 12 May 1945

Alan Ball MBE  was born 12 May 1945 and died 25 April 2007.

He started out in football playing for Ashton United, signed a youth contract with Wolverhampton, who then decided not to take him on, tried his luck with Bolton who also decided not to take him on.  The normal reason was that he was too small.

After intervention from his father Blackpool gave Ball a trial and signed him as an apprentice. Alan played for England in the 1966 World Cup for England and then moved to Everton.  He won the 1970 League Championship with them – his only major trophy.

On 22 December 1971, Arsenal paid £220,000 (a record) for Ball, who made his début on 27 December 1971 against Forest.  But thereafter as the double winning side fell apart, Ball found himself in a team going nowhere.

Here is the Arsenal form for his era

Season League FA Cup League Cup
1972/3 2nd 3rd Wolverhampton 5th Norwich
1973/4 10th 4th Aston Villa 2nd Tranmere
1974/5 16th Final West Ham
1975/6 17th 3rd Wolverhampton 2nd Everton
1976/7 8th 5th Middlesbrough 5th QPR

Ball was made captain in 1974, but as matters declined, he announced his attention to leave, although then drew back from that.

In the summer of 1976 Bertie Mee retired and Terry Neill took over.  Alan Ball played on until December 1976 when he moved to Southampton for £60,000.

Season

Leg app

Lge goals

FA Cup

app

FA Cup

goals

Lg Cup

app

Lg Cup

goal

Total

appearance

Total

goals

1971–72

18

3

9

2

0

0

27

5

1972–73

40

10

8

4

3

0

51

14

1973–74

36

13

3

0

1

0

40

13

1974–75

30

9

8

1

0

0

38

10

1975–76

39

9

1

0

2

0

42

9

1976–77

14

1

0

0

6

0

20

1

Ball played with the promotion winning Southampton team before moving to the North American League, playing for Philadelphia Fury becoming player coach for a while before being sold to  Vancouver Whitecaps where he won the NASL Soccer Bowl.

In February 1980 Ball became as player-manager of Blackpool but he only stayed for a year as the team just missed relegation and continued near the foot the table.  Ball fell out with the fans, and eventually he left before Blackpool were relegated.

In March 1981, Ball returned to Southampton as a player and the following year played in Hong Kong before moving to Bristol Rovers before retiring as a player.  He had played 975 games across 21 years.

Ball became a manager of Portsmouth and he got them promoted to the first division.  However after they were relegated back to the second division he was sacked and moved first to Colchester then Stoke.

He changed the squad dramatically at Stoke, and took them into the 3rd division for the first time in 63 years.   When it was clear they would not immediately climb back to the 2nd Ball was sacked.

In July 1991 he tried again this time with Exeter City of the 3rd Division and he left them as they headed for relegation to the 4th Division.  He also worked with the England team but that was not a success either.

He returned as manager of Southampton in 1994 and managed to keep them up.  He re-established Le Tissier as a goal scorer and signed Grobbelaar.

Although he had some success at Southampton Ball went to Manchester City in July 1995 and as seemed by now his habit, was relegated with them.  He resigned three games into the next season.

Ball returned to Portsmouth as manager in Feb 1998 and the survived in the league by winning their final game of the season.  After his dismissal in the following season he retired aged 54.

He was at his prime a superb player, of that there is no doubt, but he was not a good manager, and the wonder is why he was able to find so many positions as a manager.  He always complained after each sacking that he was not given the backing of the board nor allowed sufficient cash to buy the players he wanted.  But there were occasions when he could make wholesale changes.  At Stoke for example he sold Chris Kamara, Dave Bamber, Leigh Palin, Carl Saunders, Gary Hackett and Nicky Morgan.  He bought Tony Ellis, Lee Sandford, Tony Kelly, Dave Kevan, Paul Barnes and Noel Blake.  It didn’t work, but then in management for Alan Ball it rarely did.

See also…

——————

The books…

Other sites from the same team…

1 comment to Alan Ball born, 12 May 1945

  • nicky

    I was disappointed with the overall service we received from Alan Ball. Somewhat like Bryn Jones, although in his case WW2 intervened in his career.
    Maybe I expected too much from his heroics in the 1966 World Cup but somehow he never reached my high expectations.Or it could have been the diminishing returns of the players around him, in which case I will soon be put right by Tony or Andy!.

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