Them and us – Alex Bruce (Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United)

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The visit of Newcastle United on Saturday gives TNS the chance to once again delve into something that most people think Latics haven’t got.  History!  Step forward Alex Bruce…

Alex was born in Dundee on 23rd December 1952 and started his career with Preston North End in April 1968 when he arrived at Deepdale after being scouted in Scotland by North End chief scout Jimmy Scott.  Alex had no part to play in Preston’s relegation season under Bobby Seith in 1969/70 and he was also an onlooker as new manager Alan Ball restored the Lilywhites’ Division Two status the following season.

He signed his first full professional contract in the summer of 1970 and he made his North End debut against Swindon Town at Deepdale on the last day of season 1971/72.

He netted22 goals in 62 Division Two games for North End before signing for Newcastle United in January 1973 for a fee of  £140,000.  The Geordies were in Division One at the time and Bruce struggled to break into the team on a regular basis and after 20 appearances during which he netted three times, he returned to Preston North End in August 1975 to form a great partnership with Mike Elwiss, whose transfer to Deepdale came about through Bruce’s original sale to Newcastle!

However, the Geordies had insisted on taking North End star John Bird and  £60,000 in exchange and the Deepdale manager, former Latics caretaker manager Bobby Charlton resigned in protest!  He was to make a further 301 appearances for the club rattling in 135 goals in the process.

Alex was signed for Latics by Harry McNally in August 1983 after he was released by Preston North End. He made his Latics League debut against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park on 27th August 1983, the opening day of the 1983/84 season and the game resulted in a 0-0 draw.

Alex was to stay at Springfield Park for two years and during his last season he coached the reserve team after picking up a serious knee injury that was to end his career. He made 35+8 League appearances for the Blues and he netted 7 League goals in the process, before a knee injury forced him to retire from the game. He then tried his luck at non league level with Rushden and Diamonds but gave up the game within weeks of signing for them.  Alex is currently an operations manager in charge of seven leisure centres in South Ribble.

A bit of Alex Bruce trivia – did you know that Alex first played for the Latics on 4th May 1978 as a guest (from Preston North End) in a testimonial game for Latics legend Micky Worswick?

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