Manchester City FC

Alex Williams - Manchester City FC - Biography of his Man City career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 04 April 1983

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      Monday, 13 November 1961
      Manchester, England
  • Manchester City FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 14th March 1981 in a 2-1 win at home to West Bromwich Albion (Aged: 19)
    • Club Career
      114 League apps
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Alex WILLIAMS - Manchester City FC - Biography of his Man City career.


Born just around the corner from Maine Road, Alex Williams was a goalkeeper who signed for his local club Manchester City in 1979. After gaining England youth honours he made his first team debut aged just 19 on March 14th 1981 in a 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion, thus becoming the first black goalkeeper to appear in the top flight of English football. He made one more appearance that term and a further three the following season, having to be content as understudy to England international Joe Corrigan.

It wasn't until the 1982-83 season that he got a decent run in the side, making six appearances during September and October, and when USA-bound Corrigan left the club the following March Williams was promoted to number one choice. Unfortunately City were toiling in the relegation zone by that stage, manager John Bond having resigned, and with six of the next nine games ending in defeat a point was needed from the last game of the season at home to Luton Town to ensure survival, but a disastrous 1-0 defeat condemned the Blues to relegation.



Under new manager Billy McNeill the 1983/84 season saw the likeable Williams firmly in possession of the goalkeeper's jersey, but the expected drive for promotion at the first attempt ran out of steam towards the end of the season. Despite early exits in round three of both cup competitions, to Blackpool and Aston Villa respectively, the Blues were joint-top of the table with Newcastle in February. However a disastrous two months saw an eventual fourth place finish, just out of the promotion places. On a personal level Alex had been an ever-present all season for his club, and during the summer went on to become a member of the England Under-21 side that lifted the 1984 European Championship trophy with a 3-0 aggregate victory over Spain. He had already become a firm favourite with the City fans, but it was during this time that he became a regular target for racial abuse from opposing supporters, although the genial giant shrugged it all off and blamed it on his proximity to the crowd!



The 1984/85 campaign got off to a poor start with one win in the first five games and it looked like an uphill struggle once more, but in a three month spell between September and December Williams kept clean sheets in nine out of fourteen league games to push City up the table. With defeats in the FA Cup to Coventry (1-2) and the League Cup to Chelsea (1-4), a period of inconsistency then followed, and by the time Charlton Athletic arrived at Maine Road for the final game of the season the Blues needed a win to achieve promotion. A resounding 5-1 victory eventually made sure they went up in third place on goal difference over Portsmouth. Once again Alex had played in every league and cup game of the season and his 21 clean sheets in 42 league games was the second best ever recorded by a City keeper.



Despite playing in the first eight games of the 1985/86 season Williams was suffering with a toe injury, and after a 3-0 loss at home to Manchester United in the derby match on September 14th he lost his place to Eric Nixon. Sadly for Alex this was to prove his last game for the club after playing in 102 consecutive league games between March 1983 and September 1985, as he was to suffer a bad fall and injury to his spine in a reserve team match when he was on the road to recovery. After struggling to regain full fitness he was sent out on loan to Queen of the South for a brief period before he was eventually allowed to leave Maine Road in November 1986 when he was transferred to Port Vale. He had made a total of 125 league and cup appearances for the Blues but after only one full season with Vale he was forced to quit the game with serious back problems at the age of only 25.



Fortunately his services were not lost to the game. The respect in which he was held led to him being appointed Community Officer at Port Vale, which in turn led to him returning to Manchester City two years later as a key figure in the club's Football in the Community scheme. He was such a success in the role that in 2002 he was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours list for his services to young people. (David Redshaw)


Senior career
Years            Team            Games         

1980–1986    Manchester City    125    (0)
1986             Queen of the South    5    (0)
1986–1987    Port Vale    35    (0)

Total     165 games

Williams returned to Port Vale in July 1988 as the community programme officer

but departed in January 1990 to take up a similar role at Manchester City.

He then worked as the Executive Manager of City in the Community, Manchester City's community programme.

Williams was awarded the MBE in the 2002 New Years Honours list for his services to young people.