The Preston North End football legend, Alex Dawson, sadly passed away in a Kettering Care Home on Friday morning, 17th July.
The Black Prince, as he had been fondly nicknamed, had been suffering with dementia. Despite being born in Aberdeen Alex was brought up in Hull and whilst a schoolboy in that city he represented England Schoolboys as a left-winger! He was soon snapped up by Manchester United, gaining precious experience in the same youth set up as Bobby Charlton.
After winning the FA Youth Cup twice he was soon featuring in the United first team, playing and scoring in the last three games of the 1956-1957 season and he was still only a 17 year-old youth. Alex came to the fore probably quicker than expected due to the Munich Air Disaster and started goalscoring on a regular basis.
He still to this day holds the record of being the last footballer to score a hat trick in an FA Cup semi-final when beating Fulham in 1958. His reward was to appear in the cup final itself albeit on the right-wing.
During his time with the Red Devils he scored an impressive 45 goals in 80 league games and 8 goals in 10 FA cup ties. His worth today would be mind boggling! However despite his obvious eye for goal, Matt Busby decided that he could be sold on and Preston North End quickly snapped him up.
It was £20,000 well spent. He scored on his North End debut against Rotherham United in October 1961 and soon settled down to Second Division football. His bustling style of play went down a treat with the North End fans who wished for a quick return to the top flight but even his 27 goals in his first full season was not enough to challenge for promotion.
The following season, 1963-1964, is one that lingers in the memory of many North End supporters as the club narrowly missed out on promotion and also made another FA cup final appearance, cruelly losing to West Ham United 2-3 at the death. Alex’s contribution was scoring another 36 league and cup goals.
He had become a cult hero with his powerful shooting and amazing heading ability.
By 1967 he had been transferred to Bury for another £20,000 fee having amassed 132 goals in 237 league and cup appearances. Alex, who was 80 years old, will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.