Few might have heard of the Brit Alan Walsh a player with a modest career in English football, though doing well in the lower leagues for twelve years with Darlington and Bristol City before making a move to Besiktas at the age of 32.
A hidden story of a remarkable journey and one of those forgotten Englishmen achieving almost miracles abroad without getting much noticed. Alan Walsh got through the youth ranks at Middlesbrough during a time when the club were a major achiever in the top flight of the game.
Alan’s chances was limited with Boro just making three league appearances in the first team, and because his career had not taken off at the age of 22, he made his move to Darlington. In all a very successful time, but out of the limelight, playing a solid 251 league games and scoring 87 goals before he moved on to Bristol City, and from 1984 to 1989 serving well at Ashton Gate, netting 77 goals in 218 games.
When he thought his career in the lower tiers of English football had come to an end, a phone call from Gordon Milne, manager at Besiktas at the time, changed his life in a way and it wasn’t difficult to jump at this remarkable chance to get back in to top flight football and at this late stage of his career winning two league titles with the Turkish club.
The year was 1989, and Alan Walsh had just been offered a new deal at Bristol City, but had not yet signed the papers and after a chat with his wife they were willing to give this adventure a chance. Walsh played 45 games in two seasons, scoring 13 goals and of course at this late stage of his career it was not that he would stay on forever at Besiktas.
When it was time to say goodbye to Besiktas he had picked up four trophies, two league trophies, one cup win and a super cup win, it’s a remarkable collection in such a short time coming from English third tier football.
But as we all know English football does have a certain standard and many good players can be found in the lower leagues and they are full time professionals and those who are “overlooked” by the top flight at home, can soon find themselves more than good enough in a league abroad as the standards aren’t as high as home.
Alan Walsh left Besiktas at the age of 35 and had a brief spell in Hong Kong before returning home to England, having short spells with a number of clubs. Walsh has since retiring from playing been involved in football in different coaching roles at the two Bristol clubs City and Rovers.
A lovely little story of a player that made the most of his little adventure abroad and showing that he could probably have played higher in the leagues at home if the opportunity had appeared.