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Alec Chamberlain at Everton

Alec Chamberlain at Everton

Alec Chamberlain

Ipswich, Colchester and Everton

When you look back at Alec's short stay at Ipswich, you could say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the right place at the right time, too!

Sound odd? Well let me explain.

Alec spent a year at Ipswich at time when they were the UEFA Cup holders and one of the country's top teams - the days of Frans Thijsen, Arnold Muhren, John Wark, Paul Mariner, and Paul Cooper in goal.

Cooper was the undisputed number one at Portman Road at that time, and Alec was not within touching distance of breaking into the first team. By his own admission, manager Sir Bobby Robson made an extremely tough decision to let Alec go, and an opportunity was awaiting him virtually on his doorstep.

At this time, Ipswich had a close association with Colchester United, especially after Town hero Allan Hunter became player manager of the U's. With Mike Walker coming to the end of his distinguished career, Colchester needed a goalkeeper to be ready and waiting to inherit the vacancy when it arose.

Alec signed in the summer of 1982, and quickly proved himself just what Colchester needed. He was young and he was good. Very good, and before the season was out he was given first team experience. And when Walker took over as reserve team coach at Layer Road the following year, Alec had his chance.

And what an outstanding player for Colchester he was, quickly establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the then Fourth Division, and one of the best young 'keepers in the country.

For four seasons Alec was Colchester's trusted Number One, and was attracting interest from scouts at higher division clubs. Among those interested was former Watford manager Ray Lewington, who tried to sign Alec for the then Second Division Fulham!

Eventually the move did come - in the summer of 1987, and from the best club in the country! Everton were the reigning champions, and Alec was signed as cover for Neville Southall, then regarded as one of the world's best goalkeepers, let alone the country's.

Realistically, Alec was never going to dislodge Southall from the first team, but the experience of day to day involvement with such a big club and great players was a fantastic experience. Alec and his new bride Jane, married that summer, moved to Southport, and enjoyed the atmosphere of Goodison Park.

But it proved to be no more than a stopping off zone. During the season Alec was at Everton he went out on loan to nearby Tranmere Rovers for three months, and proved that while he might not make it into the first team at Goodison Park, he was certainly good enough to play at the highest level.

Alec's performances for "Tranny" earned him more rave reviews, and his break into the big time of the First Division was just around the corner...

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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