Ciderspace News Page : Alan Skirton RIP : 1939-2019
12 May 2019 : Alan Skirton RIP : 1939-2019
Alan Skirton, in a picture taken last season
Alan Skirton, pictured during 2001 whilst at Yeovil Town
Photo © 2002-19 Ciderspace/Tim Lancaster
We're sorry to hear that former Yeovil Town Commercial Manager Alan Skirton has passed away at the age of 80 years old. The former Arsenal, Blackpool, Bristol City, Torquay United and Bath City winger had a 21 year association with the club at both the old Huish and the current Huish Park grounds, and was the main voice that fans heard over the tannoy during that period, before retirement saw him position himself in the stands as a supporter of the football club.

Alan joined Yeovil Town Football Club on 14th Sept 1981. Chairman David Hawker and Director Bryan Moore had heard of his work at Bath City and persuaded him to make the move to South Somerset. An offer from Bristol City was also on the table, thankfully Alan made the right choice. On his arrival he found the club's Lottery in a poor state and set about introducing a door-to-door sales team that would prove to be very successful. Years later the introduction of the National Lottery meant that changes had to be made, but the Lottery Office still continued to raise important funds for the football club.

Through various advertising and sponsorship schemes several million pounds were raised for the club. But his most successful scheme was undoubtedly the Patron Scheme that allowed businesses large and small to become involved with the club. Alan has often been given the credit for introducing the Patron's Scheme, however he was always quick to point out that it was spawned from an idea raised by Tony Williams, a director of the club at the time, who came across a similar scheme at Bognor Regis Football Club and thought it would be beneficial to Yeovil Town. Alan's hard work ensured this to be the case, and it was hugely influential in the club's cashflow position, particularly during the summer months, up until the point when the club surprisingly dropped it during the mid-2000s.

Alan was born in Bath in 1939 and it was at Bath City where he started in football, a career that would fill his working life. His early days at Bath City had the scouts flocking to Twerton Park, a short spell working for Bath Council, followed by National Service delayed his entry into Professional Football.
When Arsenal made him an offer a 19 year old Alan headed for the capital. Unfortunately Tuberculosis halted his Arsenal career before it had hardly started, but 18 months later he began 6 years in the Arsenal team which would bring 154 first team appearance and 54 goals, quite an achievement for a winger playing at the highest level. He is among a select band of wingers who have scored 100 league goals.

A £30,000 transfer to Blackpool followed where Alan stayed for 3 years, once again scoring a goal every three games. A move back south to Bristol City, and then Torquay United followed before Alan ended his playing days at Weymouth. He even managed to fit in a short spell winning the League title in South Africa playing for Durban City with Johnny Haynes and Budgie Byrne.

Alan Skirton is on the top row, second left, in this Arsenal team photo
Alan Skirton is on the top row, second left, in this Arsenal team photo

Alan's discipline on the field was excellent, in fact he was never even booked when playing for Arsenal, although many Yeovil fans will recall an incident with Yeovil goalkeeper Tony Clark that should have seen a 'veteran' Weymouth winger being reprimanded by the referee! As Alan's playing career was coming to an end he saw how the then Weymouth Commercial manager, Alec Jackson, earned his living and felt that this could be his own future, he assisted in the commercial department at Weymouth during the latter days of his playing career. He then moved back to his hometown club Bath City to become the Commercial Manager and stayed for 10 years, even reviving his playing career and playing a few games for them in the Southern League. When Yeovil Town stepped in he could see the potential in South Somerset and set about a task that would lead to him being one of the most successful Commercial Managers in Non League football.

For 21 years Alan was the face, and voice, of Yeovil Town Football Club. Businesses near and far were persuaded to sponsor the club or advertise in one way or another. Matchdays at Huish or Huish Park saw Alan on the microphone, although the power in the voice meant that the assistance of amplification was not always been necessary in the Vice Presidents lounge! He officially retired from the club in October 2002, just before they entered the Football League, although provided them with consultancy for some time after that, as well as taking his seat in the Main Stand, where he watched his team take the Conference title.

Alan's retirement saw him stay living in Somerset, meaning that he kept in touch with those who he had established friendships with, throughout his life. He was particularly popular with club sponsors and Patrons from the 1980s and 1990s, who he treated not only as business partners, but as friends. As such he was always spoken about highly at the club by those of that era. Our sincere condolences to his wife Jane, his son Andrew and all of the Skirton family. He will most certainly be missed.

Alan Skirton - bottom right in the Blackpool team photo - shortly before he departed for Ashton Gate
Alan Skirton - bottom right in the Blackpool team photo - shortly before he departed for Ashton Gate

[With thanks to former Patron John Baker for providing much of the above history of Alan's involvement at the club.]

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