Tributes paid to Reading FC 'Pocket Rocket' Andy AlleyneBy Mike Pyle
June 22, 2012
Royals legendary “pocket rocket” Andy Alleyne, Reading FC’s first black player, has died aged just 61 after a long fight against cancer.
The head of a well-known sporting family, dad of four and a regular fixture in teams around the area for many years, Mr Alleyne was best-known for his stint as a right back with Reading from 1972 to 1976. He wowed spectators by scoring from the halfway line on his debut.
Mr Alleyne was born in Springtown, Barbados, in 1951 and showed promise as a footballer from a young age.
He came to Reading, grew up around Tilehurst and was a regular in the Reading FC youth team from 1967 to 1969 but did not get offered professional terms and left the club.
He worked for the General Post Office in Minster Street and played amateur football for Newbury Town but was recalled to the Reading FC squad in 1972 by caretaker manager Jimmy Wallbanks who took charge of the club after the sacking of Jack Mansell.
Mr Alleyne impressed for the reserves and was handed his first team debut against league leaders Southport in October 1972 – it was the first time a black player had ever appeared in the Reading first team.
Despite playing at right back, he marked his first appearance at Elm Park with a spectacular equalising goal from a free kick inside his own half in a match which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He made 53 league and cup appearances for the Royals and scored twice before leaving in 1976. He went on to play for a number of local clubs including Wokingham Town.
Richard Wickson, secretary of Reading FC Former Players Association, said: “Andy was a great guy, on and off the field.
“On the field he proved a fine and outstanding full-back deserving of a longer professional career than the 53 appearances that he is credited for. Off the pitch I found him to be a quiet, unassuming man with a wonderful personality.
“I know I speak for all his fellow team-mates when I say he was greatly thought of and will be remembered with great fondness.
“Our sincerest condolences go to Maureen and their family.”
The Calcot legend, who died on Wednesday morning, is survived by his wife Maureen, daughter Tia and sons Anthony, Andrew and Adrian.
The getreading website has been flooded with tributes to Mr Alleyne, many from fans who fondly remember his playing days. Colin Bibby said: “I had the pleasure of knowing Andy from the gym at the YMCA many years ago with Maureen always there at his side and also when I started to play football with Dee Road. He was a lovely man and will be missed a lot.”
Tilidee wrote: “I witnessed his goal from the half way line on the right. I believe it was a free kick on a very windy day. I also played along side him for Battle Athletic in his younger days. My condolences to a small pocket rocket who always wore his heart on his sleeve.”
No details of the funeral service have yet been released.
If you would like to share your memories of Mr Alleyne contact reporter Mike Pyle at email@example.com or call (0118) 918 3025.