Promotion Personalities – Alex Russell

1989/90 Programme

The following article was published during the 1989-90 season in the match day programme and is reproduced here in full.

Alex Russell must be numbered among the great Southport servants of all eras. His 346 League appearances was only exceeded by Arthur Peat and only Alan Spence and Joe Patrick scored more than Alex’s 75 Football League goals for the club. He possessed considerable football craft and skill. His outstanding constructive qualities made Alex the writer’s all-time favourite Southport player.

Born in South Shields, Alex played for two years in the South Shields Schoolboy side. From there he went to Marsden Juniors in the local J.O.C, League and it was while he was with this club that he played for Durham County Youth. Before becoming a professional footballer Alex was a useful cricketer, opening the batting for the Durham County Youth XI.

He was Everton manager Harry Catterick’s second signing after taking office and was a member of the Everton ’A’ side which completed the Lancashire League and Lancashire Cup double two years running. He also made about 30 Central League appearances for Everton for whom he signed as an amateur in March 1961, becoming a part-time professional two months later.

It was Lem Newcomb who signed Alex, then 19, on 31st October 1963 and he made an impressive debut against Barrow and crowned it with a good goal. Everton retained a financial interest in the player which meant that Southport were never able to obtain a transfer fee for him although he soon became a target for the ‘Scouts’. Alex was a regular in the Southport team becoming a full-time professional in August 1965 after qualifying as a compositor.

Alex Russell’s craftsmanship was probably at it’s best in 1965-66 season when he played a big part in Southport’s giantkilling feats over Ipswich Town and Cardiff City. In the promotion season Alex was the side’s midfield general but he missed the promotion run-in through injury and Arthur Peat filled his position.

Alex remained at Haig Avenue until the summer of 1970 when he joined Blackburn Rovers as part of the deal which brought Laurie Calloway to Southport. During his first spell with Southport Alex made 262 League appearances and scored 63 goals. He spent 12 months at Ewood Park before moving on to Tranmere Rovers and it was while he was on loan to Crewe Alexandra that Jimmy Meadows brought him back to Haig Avenue after Southport had sustained two consecutive away League defeats and been knocked out of the F.A. Cup at Port Vale in November 1972. Alex played in 23 of the remaining 26 matches scoring twice. On Easter Monday, before 6533 spectators, the biggest crowd of the season, Alex scored an equalising goal direct from a free-kick in injury time which made sure of the title. Alex had two further seasons at Haig Avenue, bringing his career total appearances to 426 and 86 goals. Alex then had a couple of seasons at Formby under Bryan Griffiths.

As an apprentice printer he completed his training with J. and C. Moores in Liverpool after he had come to Everton. Having a trade behind him meant that when his playing days were over he could go back to his job as a printer and some years ago took over the well established firm of Watkinson and Bond in Botanic Road.

Mike Braham