July 8th 1941
Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient, Chelsea
Dario Gradi arrived at Crewe on June 16th 1983 after a last minute interview for the manager's job that Peter Morris had just vacated.
The club at the time were the butt of many footballing jokes. Having finished in the bottom two of the Football League four times in the five season prior to Dario's arrival, Crewe were definitely on the brink of falling into oblivion.
Dario arrived with a long term plan though; five seasons under his guidance had seen a steady improvement on league positions. 16th, 10th, 12th, 17th & 17th were nothing to shout about but it was a lot nicer than having to rely on re-election to keep your Football League status.
Dario's vision of nurturing young talent through to the first team was always there. He took players on who weren't deemed good enough at other clubs, a certain Geoff Thomas was signed from when Rochdale released him and David Platt joined the Alex after a loan spell from Man Utd. No-one would have guessed that those two would be England internationals in a few years.
It wasn't just cast-offs though, Dario wanted a place for Crewe youngsters to learn the game and after a couple of failed attempts Dario and chairman John Bowler had the idea of putting a astro-turf pitch behind the main stand. It would be where the renowned Crewe Alexandra Academy would be born.
1988/89 saw the Crewe rise above the bottom league for the first time in 25 years. Money from the sales of Thomas (ï¿½50,000) and Platt (ï¿½400,000) was being plowed straight back into Dario's quest for youth. The season saw others start raising eyebrows at the action at little Crewe - the club spent little periods at the top of Division Four and young players like Steve Walters and Rob Jones were being recognised with England youth call-ups.
It was promotion that made people sit up and look though. MORE...
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