The King of Bloomfield Road
As 'Pool historian Gerry Wolstenholme writes, 'There have been many great players over the years at Bloomfield Road but only one has earned the accolade of 'King of Bloomfield Road' and that is the late, great Alan Suddick.'
Alan was born in Chester-le-Street on May 2 1944. He joined Newcastle United from school as an inside forward. He made his debut for the club aged just 17 and went on to play 152 games for the Toon, scoring 43 goals. He won the Second Division along the way and played for the England Under 23s.
In December 1966, Suddick joined Blackpool for £63,000, making his debut in the 4-1 defeat to West Ham on Boxing Day, where it is noted that Suddick set up the 'Pool goal.
He scored his first goal for the 'Pool on New Years Eve that year in a 5-1 drubbing of Southampton, and went on to quickly establish himself as a cult hero on the terraces with his immeasurable talent.
It was in 1971 though when Suddick really shone. He was instrumental in the Seasiders Anglo-Italian Cup success, scoring an incredible goal against Verona that he recounted in the introduction to the book 'The Italian Job':
'I well remember the first game against Verona for I scored one of the best goals of my career. Dave Hatton had the ball on the halfway line and I made a diagonal run to the edge of the penalty area and called for a pass. Dave picked me out as the centre half and the sweeper closed in on me. I back headed the ball over the centre half and that took him out of the play. As the sweeper approached I flicked the ball over his head as he committed himself, ran around him and then volleyed the ball into the net from the angle of the six-yard box.'
He was also the architect of the 10-0 thrashing of Lanerossi Vicenza in June 1972, scoring one of the goals.
Alan went on to play for the Seasiders until December 1976, where after a period on the sidelines through injury, he was transferred to Stoke City for £12,000. He only played nine league games for the Potters, scoring one goal before spending time at Southport and Bury.
He ended his days working as a decorator, but could still be found frequenting Bloomfield Road on a regular basis whether it be for matches or the many functions that he always found time for.
Over twenty of his old team mates attended Friday's event, and all of them had wonderful memories and stories of Alan that they shared with us. It was great to see the camaraderie that still exists between the likes of Sir Jimmy Armfield, Billy Bentley and Glyn James, and the video tribute to Alan was very moving.
I never got to see Alan play live, but there's no doubt that he was and still is a legend. Just to be part of the tribute to him on Friday was humbling.
BSA get a lot of stick, but the event was a fitting tribute to The King and raised a great deal of funds for charities to be chosen by Alan's family, who were also present on the night. Local artist Scott Rimmer's tribute painting to Alan was unveiled on the night, and will hang at Bloomfield Road.
As chairman Karl Oyston stated in the memorial program, 'There will be new heroes for the supporters to idolise, but whatever is achieved by any players here at Bloomfield Road, there will never be another Alan Suddick, 'the King of Bloomfield Road''.