Outside left Alan James Daley, often known as “Digger” Daley, was born in suburban Mansfield to a father who was an insurance manager. Alan reached his later teenage years at the end of World War Two and was on the books of his local club Mansfield Town during 1946/47 season, playing in the Stags’ reserve side. In July 1947 he signed for Hull City as a backup the plethora of outside left options that City had assembled the previous season. Daley quickly did enough to merit a first team start and by the end of October 1947 City manager Frank Buckley had selected Alan four times. However City’s November 1947 signing of another left winger from the Mansfield suburbs, Alec Bloxham, hampered Daley’s game time and he made just three more starts in the spring months of 1948. The whirlwind of signings that swept over Hull City when England international Raich Carter took over the manager’s reins from Frank Buckley rendered Daley surplus to requirements and he left the club in the 1948 close season.
Alan then embarked on a sixteen year odyssey around numerous league and non-league clubs, in the early years while still working as a chimney sweep in the Mansfield area. In September 1948 he joined Welsh side Bangor City, whose player-manager was Alan’s former Tigers team-mate George Richardson. He joined to Birmingham Combination side Nuneaton Borough at the start of the 1949/50 season, but by November he had switched to Worksop Town in order that he could better juggle his working and footballing commitments. This move clearly worked a treat because Daley scored a flurry of goals for Worksop – the other “Tigers” – and attracted the attention of Doncaster Rovers who signed him back into the Football League scene in March 1950. After just one start for the Rovers first team Daley was consigned to the resreves during the early stages of the 1950/51 season and in November 1950 he was loaned to Southern League side Peterborough United for the rest of the season. Given a free transfer by Doncaster in the 1951 close season, Alan joined Boston United for the 1951/52 season where he scored 12 goals in 30 starts for the Midland League side. He spent 1952/53 season at Division Three North side Scunthorpe & Lindsey United and he had a successful return to senior football, scoring eight times in 35 league starts. However Scunthorpe did not retain him in the 1953 close season and after a short spell at Northamptonshire side Corby Town, Alan returned to his first club Mansfield Town in November 1953.
Some stability finally came to Daley’s career and he spent nearly three seasons at Field Mill, making over 100 senior appearances in all competitions and scoring roughly a goal every four games, playing at outside left in tandem with inside left George Darwin. In February 1956 Mansfield were struggling towards the lower reaches of Division Three North and bought in left winger Charlie Mitten, The Bogota Bandit, who had made his name at Manchester United after WW2 and, alongside ex-Tiger Neil Franklin, had joined Colombian side Independiente Santa Fe on a maximum-wage-busting salary in 1950. Mitten was appointed player-manager at Mansfield and his first act was to dispense with his rival for the outside left shirt – Daley joined Stockport County the day Mitten was appointed, having scored 25 goals in 97 appearances for the Stags.
Alan’s good form continued at Stockport as he hit 13 goals in 42 appearances for the Hatters in 1956/57 season, but by the end of 1957 he was out of the first team and rumoured to be moving on to York City. He eventually left Stockport in June 1958 having scored 18 times in 75 senior appearances and joined Crewe Alexandra. Again, his form soon attracted outside attention and in November 1958, after 14 starts for Crewe, Daley, now 31, joined Fourth Division Coventry City. Daley assisted Coventry to promotion to the Third Division at the end of 1958/59 season and stayed for one and a half more seasons, making 56 appearances and scoring 10 goals before joining Southern League side Cambridge United in January 1961 – Cambridge were managed by another ex-Tiger Alan Moore. Daley remaining in the non-league game for three more years, starting 1961/62 season at Burton Albion before quickly switching to Ilkeston Town in October 1961. He spent his final season, 1963/64, playing for Sutton Town back near his native Mansfield – closing the loop, Sutton Town had played Hull City in the FA Cup three years earlier in 1960!
Daley worked in the administration team at Mansfield Town for several years after his retirement as a professional player, and also turned out in the Mansfield Sunday League into his 40s. He later became a market trader and moved to Milton Keynes, which is where he died in June 2008.
Date/Place of Birth: 11 October 1927, Mansfield
Hull City First Game: 15 September 1947, Halifax Town A (Division Three North), 19 years, 339 days old
Hull City Final Game: 13 March 1948, Darlington A (Division Three North), 20 years, 154 days old
Mansfield Town (1946-1947), Hull City (1947-1948), Bangor City (1948-1949), Nuneaton Borough (1949), Worksop Town (1949-1950), Doncaster Rovers (1950-1951), Peterborough United (1950-1951, loan), Boston United (1951-1952), Scunthorpe United (1952-1953), Corby Town (1953), Mansfield Town (1953-1956), Stockport County (1956-1958), Crewe Alexandra (1958), Coventry City (1958-1961), Cambridge United (1961), Burton Albion (1961), Ilkeston Town (1961-1963), Sutton Town (1963-1964)
Hull City Record
Career: 7 apps, 0 goalsAlan Daley