Ex-Arsenal hitman takes ‘Church role

Redditch Advertiser: Patron Gunner: Alan Smith has agreed to be a figurehead for Alvechurch. Patron Gunner: Alan Smith has agreed to be a figurehead for Alvechurch.

FORMER Arsenal legend Alan Smith has taken a role at the club where he started his illustrious footballing career by becoming a patron for Alvechurch.

The 50-year-old former hitman has agreed to fill the shoes left by club stalwart Roy Yardley.

Now a pundit for Sky Sports, Hopwood-born Smith kicked off his career by playing for Alvechurch in the 1981-82 campaign.

The new role will be a purely symbolic one, with the club hoping to have Smith at the certain events, particularly as they are planning to celebrate their centenary next year.

It is also hoped that Smith’s connection with Alvechurch will be raise the club’s profile.

Club secretary Steve Denny said: "After former club patron, Roy Yardley died in May 2011, the board decided not to re-appoint anyone to the vacant position, as a mark of respect for Roy.

“However, after 18 months without a club patron, I proposed that we approach our ex player, Alan Smith, to see if he would be interested in the position.

“I know Roy would fully support and welcome Alan as his successor and the club are delighted and honoured that Alan has accepted the role of club patron at his former club.

“The role is primarily one as a figurehead for the club, but depending on Alans commitments, we are hoping that he can attend major club functions and events and that the club can benefit from using his name to support any commercial opportunities that may arise in future."

Smith’s naming as club patron is an ideal successor to Yardley, who was a stalwart at Lye Meadow for over 50 years before passing away in 2011 following a short illness.

He started out as a rookie striker, before moving to Leicester and then the Gunners, before retiring in 1995. He has on occassions even mentioned Alvechurch while broadcasting.

"I was delighted to accept the role of Patron to Alvechurch,” commented Smith, who scored 86 goals for Arsenal.

“The club will always be in my heart because I enjoyed some very happy times there, and as an 18-year-old, I learned a lot about senior football.

“They gave me my start and for that, I shall always be grateful."

Meanwhile, Alvechurch will be aiming to bounce back from a 4-1 loss at the hands of Kirby Muxloe in the Midland Alliance on Saturday. Jake Aaron scored for the Churchmen but they were stunned by Muxloe in the first half.

They faced Ellesmere Rangers last night, and go to Westfields in the league on Saturday (3pm ko).

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Senior Cup second round clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 18 after heavy rain forced the match off last week.

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