Alan Buckley

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Alan Buckley
Personal information
Full name Alan Peter Buckley
Date of birth (1951-04-20) 20 April 1951 (age 70)
Place of birth Mansfield, England
Position(s) Forward
Senior career*
1967–1973 Nottingham Forest 18 (1)
1973–1978 Walsall 241 (125)
1978–1979 Birmingham City 28 (8)
1979–1984 Walsall 178 (49)
1984–1986 Stourbridge
1986–1987 Tamworth 3 (0)
Teams managed
1978 Walsall (caretaker)
1979–1981 Walsall
1981–1982 Walsall (joint with Neil Martin)
1982–1986 Walsall
1986–1988 Kettering Town
1988–1994 Grimsby Town
1994–1997 West Bromwich Albion
1997–2000 Grimsby Town
2001–2002 Lincoln City
2003 Rochdale
2006–2008 Grimsby Town
2012–2013 Grimsby Town (U17s)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Alan Peter Buckley (born 20 April 1951) is an English former professional footballer and football manager who now works as a sports co-commentator for BBC Humberside.


As a player, he was a forward from 1967 to 1987 for Nottingham Forest, Walsall, Birmingham City, Stourbridge and Tamworth. [1] He moved into management and has been in charge of Walsall, Kettering Town, West Bromwich Albion, Lincoln City and Rochdale. He gained renown for his three stints as manager of Grimsby Town between 1988 and 2008, where his achievements have made him the club's most successful manager. Buckley is one of only 14 managers to have reached 1,000 matches in charge of a league club, but the only one of the 14 never to have managed a team in the Premiership or its predecessor, the First Division. [2]

Playing career

Buckley began his career with Nottingham Forest, but was transferred to Walsall in 1973 having never managed to win a regular place in the first team. He became a prolific striker at Fellows Park, before he was transferred briefly to Birmingham City in October 1978. He returned to Walsall as their record signing (£175,000) in June 1979. [2] He began his managerial career with 'The Saddlers', initially as player/manager and briefly as co-manager with Neil Martin. This was an era that became a hallmark for some of the most attractive football seen in Walsall and the side gradually established itself as promotion contenders. [1]

Buckley gained a favourable reputation during his time in the Black Country, scoring against Manchester United as a player during an FA Cup upset in January 1975, and leading his Walsall side as a manager to victories against the likes of Arsenal, and a draw at Anfield during a League Cup run which took them to the semi-finals, just '90 Minutes From Europe'. He was sacked in August 1986, when Terry Ramsden bought the club, installing his own managerial team within 90 minutes of the takeover deal being completed. [3]

Alan Buckley is still regarded very highly at Walsall; promotion in his first season as manager and in 1984 taking the European Champions Liverpool all the way in a League Cup semi final after drawing at Anfield 2-2. Walsall were the better team but poor finishing and bad luck at home meant Liverpool won 2–0 with their only shots after which Graeme Souness said he would rather play against Juventus than Walsall as they totally "outplayed us" at times after the match.

He joined Tamworth as a player in October 1986, playing a total of five games for the club, [4] three in the West Midlands Premier League, with a debut in the 2–0 victory at Tividale on 4 October 1986. [5]

Management career

Later as a manager, after a spell with non-league Kettering Town, he guided Grimsby Town to promotion from the Fourth Division in 1990 and they reached the Second Division a year later [6] – where they spent all but one of the next 12 seasons. In his first two spells at the club, Buckley's Grimsby sides were renowned for their attractive passing game and mounted periodic challenges for the play-offs. Buckley remained at Blundell Park until the autumn of 1994 when he joined Grimsby's Division One rivals West Bromwich Albion. [6] His spell at the Hawthorns lasted two-and-a-half years before he was sacked for failing to get Albion anywhere near a promotion challenge.

A few months after being sacked by Albion, Buckley returned to Grimsby in summer 1997 for his second spell as manager. Town had just been relegated to Division Two, but he took them back to Division One at the first time of asking with two Wembley visits in 1998. Buckley remained in charge for two full seasons after that, but was dismissed after just two games of 2000–01. A couple of brief, short-lived spells in Division Three followed – first with Lincoln City, arriving at Sincil Bank in January 2001. [7] Buckley left the Imps in April 2002, with the club stating that financial reasons were behind his departure. [8] He then took charge of Rochdale in June 2003, [9] but left by mutual consent in December of the same year after failing to revive the club's fortunes. [10] On 9 November 2006 Buckley was appointed manager of Grimsby for a third time. [11]

In his first season back with Grimsby, a mid-table finish was considered a creditable achievement after relegation from the Football League had looked a distinct possibility. In 2007–08, Grimsby made a slow start but soon picked up. A good run in the Football League Trophy saw The Mariners travel to the new Wembley 10 years after their first visit. However this time Grimsby lost 0–2 to MK Dons. [12] League form suffered terribly afterwards, the season ending with eight straight defeats. After gaining just two points from the opening six games of the 2008–09 season, Buckley was again dismissed as manager. [13]

In his three stints as Grimsby Town manager—spanning, in total, over 10 years—the club was never relegated and he also guided them to three promotions. Only 14 managers have reached 1,000 matches in charge of a Football League team by 1998 and Buckley is one of them. [6]

On 14 June 2012 Buckley returned to Grimsby for a fourth time by joining the coaching staff as the new U17's team manager. [14]

Personal life

His younger brother Steve played over 300 games as a full-back for Derby County, and well over 100 for Luton Town. His eldest son Simon was contracted to both West Bromwich Albion and Grimsby Town without playing but later played at non-league level for Boston United. His other son Adam did however make just under 50 Football League appearances combined for both Grimsby Town and Lincoln City before going on to feature for a number of clubs at a semi-professional level.

Buckley's grandson Brandon currently plays for Grimsby Town. [15]

Media career

Since his departure from management with Grimsby in 2008, Buckley who continues to live in the area is often the co-commentator and guest pundit for BBC Radio Humberside's coverage of Grimsby Town games. He has continued to work in this role alongside his current management duties of the club's U17 side.


As a player


with Walsall

As a manager

Kettering Town

  • GMAC Cup winner: 1987

Grimsby Town

Managerial stats

As of 24 May 2007. [16]

Walsall 27 June 19791 July 198193362433038.71
Walsall 1 July 19811 January 198218945050.00
Walsall 1 July 19821 August 1986201876648043.28
Grimsby Town 6 June 198820 October 199432713010988039.76
West Bromwich Albion 20 October 199422 January 1997118394534033.05
Grimsby Town 21 May 199722 August 2000175676345038.29
Lincoln City 28 February 200125 April 200269162924023.19
Rochdale 1 June 200330 December 2003288155028.57
Grimsby Town 9 November 200615 September 200897334123034.02

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  1. 1 2 3 "Alan Buckley". Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Players Database. Neil Brown. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Manager Profile - Alan Buckley". League Managers Association. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. "Big shake up at Saddlers". Express & Star. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  4. "Player Info – Alan Buckley". Tamworth F.C. Heritage website. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  5. "Game Info for Tamworth vs Tividale on 4 October 1986". Tamworth F.C. Heritage Website. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 "Were you there...?". BBC Sport. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  7. "Lincoln look to Buckley". BBC Sport. 28 February 2001. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  8. "Buckley leaves Lincoln". BBC Sport. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  9. "Rochdale get Buckley". BBC Sport. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  10. "Buckley leaves Rochdale". BBC Sport. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  11. "Grimsby unveil Buckley as manager". BBC Sport. 9 November 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  12. "Grimsby 0–2 MK Dons". BBC Sport. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  13. "Grimsby dismiss manager Buckley". BBC Sport. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  14. "Alan Buckley makes Mariners return to join coaching staff". Grimsby Telegraph. 14 June 2012. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  16. "Alan Buckley's managerial career". Soccerbase.

Further reading