Centre forward Alan Warboys joined the Tigers from Fulham in September 1977 as manager John Kaye looked to revamp his striking options following the retirement of Ken Wagstaff in 1976 and the sale of Jeff Hemmerman in 1977. The acquisition of Warboys, following a month after Bruce Bannister was signed from Plymouth, meant that Hull City had reformulated the all-Yorkshiremen Smash and Grab partnership that yielded 119 goals for Bristol Rovers in four seasons between 1972 and 1976. Alas, the old magic was rarely rekindled at Boothferry Park. Warboys had been playing first team football at Fulham so was match fit, but at times he appeared to be losing his edge as a goalscorer.
Having said that, when it clicked for Warboys the results were impressive – in early October 1977 Kaye was dismissed and two days later City entertained league leaders Tottenham Hotspur, adorned by such big names as Glenn Hoddle, Gerry Armstrong and future City manager Peter Taylor. Warboys struck both goals as lowly City beat table-topping Tottenham 2-0. Then in March 1978 Warboys struck a hattrick in a 3-2 victory over Millwall. Warboys netted seven goals that season and was City’s leading goalscorer in a season that ended in relegation to to the Third Division – but those seven goals came in just four matches, the other 27 appearances for Warboys were barren in front of goal. Warboys started rarely for City in the 1978/79 season as new signing Keith Edwards rapidly got amongst the goals and Bannister became the primary supply line. He had short runs of starts in November 1978 and March 1979 that each yielded one goal, but in the 1979 close season he was allowed to leave Boothferry Park.
Alan Warboys was born at Goldthorpe in the Dearne Valley between Barnsley and Doncaster. He joined the groundstaff at Doncaster Rovers in the mid-1960s and made his first team debut three days before his 18th birthday in April 1967, shortly after signing his first professional contract. He scored his first senior goals in May 1967 against Scunthorpe and Gillingham as Rovers were relegated to the Fourth Division. Warboys was a regular choice for Doncaster in 1967/68 season as the club consolidated in the fourth tier, and despite missing two months of football in December and January he ended the season with 9 goals in 37 appearances, taking his tally for Doncaster Rovers to 11 goals in 44 appearances.
This promising start to his career encouraged First Division side Sheffield Wednesday to sign the 19 year old Warboys in June 1968. He was used sparingly in his first season at Hillsborough but was a more regular choice in 1969/70 season when he made 42 senior appearances and scored 8 times, including a brace against Napoli in the Anglo-Italian Cup. Despite Warboys’ goals the Owls were relegated in May 1970 and he began the 1970/71 season as first choice striker.
In December 1970 Wednesday’s Second Division rivals Cardiff City paid £42,000 for Alan’s signature and he headed to South Wales. Warboys scored twice in his second start for Cardiff against his recent employers Sheffield Wednesday, then added four goals to his tally in March 1971 4-0 win over Carlisle. Alan scored 13 times in 18 starts during the second half of the season as the Bluebirds narrowly missed out on promotion to the First Division, then scored another 13 times in 1971/72 as Cardiff hovered at the other end of the table – Warboys’ highlight was a March 1972 hattrick against Preston. In the opening weeks of the 1972/73 season Warboys left Cardiff having scored 27 times in 72 appearances. He joined First Division Sheffield United, a bold move for a former Wednesday player, but the tarnsfer didn’t come off and Alan left six months later after just 8 starts and no goals.
He headed South West again in March 1973 and signed for Third Division side Bristol Rovers. Doncaster-born Warboys was paired with Bradford-born Bruce Bannister, both of whom still lived in Yorkshire and travelled together for games and training, and a highly effective partnership was quickly forged. In the 1973/74 season Bristol Rovers won promotion to the Second Division after finishing second in the Third Division table with Warboys and Bannister, now termed Smash and Grab, contributing 40 of the 64 league goals scored that season. Highlights for Warboys were when he scored four (and Bannister another three) in a December 1973 8-2 thrashing of Brian Clough’s Brighton, then added another hattrick in the following league match against Southend. The following season Alan scored another 12 league goals in the Second Division and he remained first choice centre forward at Eastville for a further two seasons as the Gas avoided relegation back to the Third Division three times. In February 1977 Warboys was again scoring regularly for Bristol Rovers, form that led to a move to another Second Division side Fulham. In six months Alan played alongside George Best and Bobby Moore, scoring six times in 24 starts for the Cottagers prior to his September 1977 move to Hull City.
Warboys left Hull City in the 1979 close season and returned to his roots, re-signing for his first club Doncaster Rovers who were now competing in the Fourth Division. Alan served Doncaster for the last three years of his playing career, netting six times in 40 starts in 1980/81 season as Donny finished third in the league table and won promotion to the third tier. Alan hung up his boots in the 1982 close season, bringing to an end a 15 year career that yielded exactly 150 goals from 533 senior appearances, 59 of which were made in the top flight for both Sheffield clubs. The promise of a job with Doncaster Rovers after his playing days ended did not materialise but Warboys remained in the Doncaster area and ran the Rings O’ Bells pub in Swinton for a while, then became a lorry driver.
Date/Place of Birth: 18 April 1949, Goldthorpe
Hull City First Game: 10 September 1977, Brighton & Hove Albion A (Division Two), 28 years, 145 days old
Hull City Final Game: 10 March 1979, Bury H (Division Three), 29 years, 326 days old
Doncaster Rovers (1966-1968), Sheffield Wednesday (1968-1970), Cardiff City (1970-1972), Sheffield United (1972), Bristol Rovers (1972-1976), Fulham (1976-1977), Hull City (1977-1979), Doncaster Rovers (1979-1982)
Hull City Record
Career: 50 apps, 9 goalsAlan Warboys
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