Who Are Ya? - Crewe Alexandra
How Long Have You Supported Crewe Alexandra?
Since 1998, so coming on 20 years now. Started around the age of 8 when my dad took me to 2 games at Gresty Road and I've been going ever since.
Last Season's League Finish?
17th, which was perhaps a good finish after we look to be heading for relegation under previous manager Steve Davis.
What Do You Think Of Your Manager?
Erm, hard to say. I'm not a huge fan of the way he conducts himself on the touchline and he has made some faux pas off the pitch. As for his managerial skills, they are questionable at this stage. He has made, on paper, what should be good additions in the summer, but the results and performances haven't been good. I do wonder whether he has what it takes to turn the team around, the jury is very much out.
Hopes/Expectations This Season?
I went into the season optimistic of a mid-table finish and maybe even a push on the play offs if we kept injury free. But as the results have nosedived, if we can finish anywhere close to mid-table, I'd be very happy.
One(s) To Watch?
Tommy Lowery in midfield has been a shining light. He is only small, but is a technically strong player who's vision and range of passing is superb.
Another 2 who can catch the eye are George Cooper and Callum Ainley on the wings. They have struggled for form, but on their day, they can be amongst the best in the league.
Top Seven Predictions?
Luton and Notts County will probably battle it out for the title with their resources. Then its a toss up between a number of others for the last automatic spot. I think top 7 could well be at they are now, with Accrington, Exeter, Swindon, Coventry and Wycombe rounding things out. Lincoln, Cambridge and Stevenage are all dark horses, but haven't shown that consistency.
Bottom Two Predictions?
Morecambe look in big trouble. Jim Bentley usually relies on a strong first half to the season to keep them out of danger, but they haven't had a good start and with their money issues, I'm struggling to see them escaping danger.
Chesterfield look like last seasons Leyton Orient, on paper too big to go down, but with just 9 points from their first 16 games, they'll need to sustain some strong form in the 2nd half of the season to avoid relegation. Think Barnet and Crawley could also be in trouble, both teams badly lack firepower.
Thoughts on Lincoln City?
I'v got to give the Imps full credit for bringing in Danny Cowley, as he and his brother have been the catalyst for the clubs return to the football league. I honestly didn't see it happening as Lincoln had been mid table fodder since they went down, but those 2 turned the club around in spectacular fashion.
They've done well to build on last seasons achievements this season. They've got a rock solid defence and should have the backing to improve and maybe make a push on the top 6. They could, with some additions, do a Bristol Rovers all being well.
We don't draw (no tie in our last 19 games), but with Lincoln being specialists in that area (sort of), I think this one will finish 1-1.
Random Fact About Your Club?
The band Dario G is unsurprisingly named after our former manager and now director Dario Gradi. They produced the hit single Sunchyme, which reached number 2 in the charts in 1997.
What are your proudest and most embarrassing moments as a Crewe Alexandra Supporter?
Easily the 2012 promotion game at Wembley. It was red hot, the roof was fully open and 15,000 Alex fans (well, maybe half of them were daytrippers) watched as we beat Cheltenham 2-0 to go up to League One. It was an incredible day after an incredible 2nd half to the season.
The most embarrassing, well take your pick. We've had some real hammerings, 7 players arrested for alleged rape in 2013 (although they were cleared), the club getting embroiled in the sex abuse scandal last season. Or perhaps one of the last 2 relegations, both humiliating in different ways. I don't really want to pick a standout one, all were embarrassing and shameful in their own ways.
Do you have a Supporters Trust and what role do they play at the Club?
We used to have a supporters trust, but they disbanded a few years ago, so there isn't really a liason group unfortunately. The closest thing we have to that kind of thing is the Sanbach Travelling Alex, but they are involved in coach travel to away games.
Which was your favourite match involving Crewe Alexandra?
Easily 2nd January 2000. We were playing league leaders Man City at home in the Championship. First game of the new millenium. They had brought loads of fans, plenty of them dotted around the home ends, Gresty Road was packed. They scored early and some fans jumped up around me. Me, being 9 at the time, jumped up as well, having never experienced away fans in the home end. My dad quickly pointed out my mistake, much to my embarrassment.
We played well in holding City to just the 1-0 before my all time favourite player Rodney Jack rammed home an equaliser on 73 minutes. The ground erupted and we got an excellent 1-1 draw in the end. A great game with us at the peak of our powers.
Which was your least favourite match involving Crewe Alexandra?
Like the most embarrassing moment, take your pick. There have been a few. The most embarrassing has to be in the 15-16 season, when we were relegated by losing 3-0 at Port Vale. Relegation had been coming for months, but to have it confirmed by your closest rivals was beyond humiliating.
Does the 'Crewe way' still exist?
Yes, but it is doesn't mean what it meant anymore. The Crewe way used to be about open attacking football, about taking on teams far bigger than us and taking the game to them. It was how we got from League Two to the Championship and stayed there for 8 seasons out of 9 from 1997 to 2005. We showed ambition and took pride in punching above our weight.
Now, the only thing that remains from those days is the reliance on the academy to produce players. The style of play is possession based, which relies on solid, ponderous football. The way the club approach the first team now is like an inconvenience, the academy is the priority and they've admitted that themselves. The ambition and the drive is gone, they are happy to tread water now. The Crewe way is mostly long gone in my opinion.
Were there times when the 'Crewe way' was/is boring? I mean, we've come up against you a few times but I'd pull my hair out watching that every week. Seemed a lot of passing for the sake of it.
I never remember us being overly reliant on the passing game. Looking back through the games between the 2 teams, I don't think they are a particularly fair reflection of either team, as they've mostly been low scoring games, especially the last 4. But the deformed 'Crewe Way' which we try and play now might well come across as boring. Depends which Crewe turn up.
What happened to your excellent Youth Academy that kept you up there for so many years?
Hard to know. I think there has been a noticeable lack of quality coming through in the last 4-5 years, but we've had barren periods before. We went several seasons between selling Dean Ashton in 2004 and Luke Varney/Nicky Maynard in 2007 and 2008. The same as well for those 2 and Nick Powell/Ashley Westwood and Luke Murphy.
The academy is there and still producing players, but they haven't been of great quality of late. I don't know whether that's a result of the EPPP requirements or other factors, but yes, the academy has lost its effectiveness in recent years. Its decline could be permanent, although I do hope not.