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Alleyne gave his all - on and off the football pitch

Brilliant on the football pitch and even better off it.

That, in summary, was how Andy Alleyne’s grandson remembered the former Royals right-back at his memorial service in a moving poem dedicated to the 61-year-old.

Hundreds of members from the local community joined Alleyne’s friends and family at the Reading Globe to show their respects to the man from Barbados who lost his battle with cancer last month.

Loyal Royals will remember Alleyne as the first black player to play for the club on October 21, 1972.

Manager Charlie Hurley told the Reading Post the day before Alleyne’s debut that he had every faith in the 21-year-old’s ability.

“Andy has done very well whenever I have seen him play in the reserves,” Hurley said.

“I have every confidence he will not let us down.”

Alleyne, who was released as an apprentice at Reading by Roy Bentley, was then recalled to the club by trainer Jimmy Wallbanks the year before making his debut.

The historical and cultural milestone of being the first black Royals star was also marked with an incredible personal achievement against Southport at Elm Park in front of 4,836 fans as he scored from just inside the visitor’s half.

My predecessor, Dave Dibben, wrote in our Football Post that night: “A Staggering 55-yard debut goal from Reading’s new full-back Andy Alleyne turned the tide for the home side after Southport had dominated the first half of the match at Elm Park.

“Reading drew level with an absolutely sensational debut goal by Alleyne. Receiving the ball from Tony Wagstaff, (who was also at the service for Alleyne), almost on the touchline. . . Alleyne slammed over a high cross towards the far post.

“As the Reading forwards raced after it, the ball dipped suddenly under the crossbar into the corner of the net.”

Dibben, writing in his post-match verdict, labelled Alleyne as “Reading’s hero in a workmanlike display.”

The words determined, dedicated and enthusiastic are used liberally in the match report to describe Alleyne.

The same adjectives were used freely in the tributes at his funeral. A dedicated Christian and family man, Alleyne also had a wicked sense of humour.

Although he never got the amount of game time some believe he should have been given at Elm Park, Alleyne will always be a hero to those who knew him personally or admired him on the terraces.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andy and his old team-mate Gordon Cumming at the Raise a Glass to Friday evening in memory of his old team-mate Robin Friday in May.

Cumming was at Wednesday’s service and paid homage to Alleyne after seeing him for the first time in four years just weeks earlier.

Cumming said: “You could tell that Andy was seriously ill, but he clearly wanted to be there that night. That shows you what kind of a man he was. It must have taken a lot of strength to  do that.”

By Jonny Fordham, Reading Post

09 July 2012



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