Carl Alford. He’s a man so far up the list of BoroGuide’s bestest-ever Boro’ players that he commands a tremendous view overlooking the Sussex coast. And, on a clear day, you can even make out the outline Guernsey. Probably. After Barry Hayles left for the greener pastures of the Football League in 1997, Boro’ struggled to use *that* famous FA Cup run to paper over what was an otherwise poor 1997-8 campaign.
Goals were needed. Gary Crawshaw managed 16 goals in 51 appearances; Neil Trebble with 10 in 47 throughout that season. Next was Giuliano Grazioli with nine – and he was only here for that one game against the Toon. So, it was clear we needed firepower and Paul Fairclough made no mistake in delivering it. In fact, you could argue this Cult Classic would also sit in the Bestsellers’ section. We’d ask you to trust us when we say we tried to get through this without a contrived reference to The Streets. But we failed.
Carl Alford: The Boro’ Story
Alford arrived from Rushden Anne Diamond (love rehashing old fanzine jokes); making his “unconventional” presence felt with a debut goal at Barrow. The next game threw up another goal. And the next game after that? Well, he didn’t score in that one. But it’s not as if he was out of the action long. His first Boro’ campaign yielded 33 from 50. Wowzer.
The man was clearly one who had long grown tired of scoring bog-standard punts from in and around the six-yard box. Those sort of goals were ones that BoroGuide built a career around. But Carl, nah. He liked to fling his “imposing” physique through the air. And, even when timing may have been slightly awry, the ball still skewed off a flaying body part and into the net. It was that easy to Carl Alford.
Under Dickie Hill, Boro’ raced out of the blocks at the start of the 1999-00 season with six straight league wins. Alford scored in five of them; continuing his run of form until March, when he scored his last of the season at Kidderminster. A more mellow 26-in-45 was that campaign’s final tally. Then he left for at-the-time-no-better-than-Boro-and-came-below-us-in-2001, Doncaster Rovers. Y u do dat Carl?
In one last undesirable twist of fate, Alford chose non-league’s biggest stage – the 2002 FA Trophy final at Villa Park – for one last demo of his eye for goal. The poise of the most elegant ballerina and the sunlit grace of a sprinting cheetah… were extremely notable by their absence; his overhead kick, however, getting the desired connection at our expense. Annoying? Fup aye. A pot for Carlo against us when his goals were more than worthy of one for us. But, like so many other greats to turn out for us, it wasn’t to be.