He may have left more than a quarter of a century ago, but Alan Buckley can still pull in the crowds at Walsall.
Back at the Banks’s on Saturday to promote his autobiography, Pass and Move – My Story, the former player, player-manager and boss was barely given a moment of peace by the Saddlers faithful.
A total of three hours signing books either side of the home game with Stevenage, which included a huge ovation when he was introduced on the pitch at half-time, The Buck was left under no illusions as to the standing he still has at the club.
Even though at times, he admits to finding it hard to fathom.
“I came to a couple of dinners recently and the fans knew more about me than I did myself!” he said.
“It was weird, they worshipped the ground I walked on. I couldn’t get my head around it. All the time I was here, I never realised the fans thought about me like that.”
He probably shouldn’t find it that surprising. Buckley remains the club’s all-time top scorer and was involved in some of the club’s greatest ever games, as both player and manager.
One of only 14 men to reach 1,000 games in charge of a league club and considering his success during three stints in charge at Grimsby Town, it’s perhaps surprising a book has taken until now. That it does exist is largely down to life-long Grimsby fan Paul Thundercliffe, who offered to be Buckley’s ghost writer after hearing him tell an anecdote on local radio.
“Over the years I’d chat to people, tell them stories and they’d suggest I write a book,” he said.
“I used to think ‘yeah right’, I’ll get a pen and paper and write a book shall I? I’m a football man, I’m not a writer.
“But when Paul got in touch I thought about it a bit more and the time was right I suppose. For all we had known at the time Paul might have turned around after a month and said it’s not going to work. But 18 solid months later we’ve got the book.”
The book details Buckley’s early career as an apprentice to Nottingham Forest right through to his final departure from Grimsby in 2008. He said: “It might sound arrogant and I don’t mean it to be like that.”
Pass and Move – My Story is available from the Walsall FC Programme Shop or can be purchased online at alanbuckleybook.com. It is released nationwide on November 11.