Farewell to Rangers’ Trophy legend Alf

A fearsome competitor on the pitch but a gentle giant off it, Alf Wood was perhaps destined to become a Stafford Rangers legend the moment he was selected for the 1979 FA Trophy final.

Alf Wood
Alf Wood

His two goals earned victory over Kettering Town in what was the Boro’s third Wembley appearance in just seven years, while also continuing a remarkable streak which saw the wearer of the club’s No.9 shirt score twice on each occasion.

Ray Williams and Roger Jones had both hit two in the 1972 and 1976 finals respectively, albeit the latter being a 3-2 defeat to Scarborough under the Twin Towers.

There would be no such disappointment for Wood, who at the age of 33 finally bagged the silverware which had eluded him during a 15-year professional career.

“If we ever get to the FA Trophy final again I am putting my house on the No.9 scoring twice,” jokes Phil Bennett, a Boro fan for nearly 50 years who was at Wembley the day Wood wrote his name into club folklore.

“He was a really strong player and having played in the league through the 60s and 70s, he never gave defenders an inch.

“But he was an honest player and that was reflected in his personality away from the pitch. He was a really nice guy.”

Wood’s death last Friday at the age of 74 has prompted an outpouring of tributes from those who played alongside him or watched him in action.

Victory at Wembley with Stafford came almost at the end of a playing career which began at Manchester City before lengthy stays at Shrewsbury Town and Millwall.

Wood, who was inducted into Shrewsbury’s Hall of Fame back in 2011, also played for Hull, Middlesbrough and Walsall before arriving at Marston Road in the summer of 1978. His previous associations came in handy for fans on occasion, as Bennett explains: “I remember being stood with a group of fans at an early Alliance League game at Barnet.

“Some chap came tearing over to us, told us he was a Millwall fan and then added: ‘I’d have beaten you all up by now, only Alf Wood is playing for you and he’s my hero!’

Alf Wood

“It was a bizarre moment. But it does tell you how much he was loved by fans of those teams he played for.”

Wood’s Wembley heroics came just weeks after his return from a broken leg sustained in a game against Gateshead in October 1978.

His final appearance for the club came in March 1980 as a substitute in a match against a Wealdstone team who featured a young Stuart Pearce in their ranks.

In total, Wood made 54 appearances for the Boro, scoring 23 goals.

Club spokesman Alan Gee said: “Fans have paid tribute on social media and among many of the comments there is a prominent train of thought that Alf was not only a great footballer, but a great man and left his mark on all he met.

“That also rings true from Alf’s former clubs, where he was remembered and adored.”

After hanging up his boots, Wood started his own business while devoting himself to his family.

He was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and for the past seven years lived in a specialist care home near Worcester. “We were and remain hugely proud of our wonderful dad,” his daughters, Karen and Samantha, wrote in a statement,

“While many will remember him for his successful footballing career when we think of him we will recall his huge love for his wife and family, and his great passion for life, which remained undimmed by his long battle with dementia.

“We are grateful for every moment we had with him.”

Donations in Wood’s memory can be made to the National Brain Appeal at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alf-wood

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News