|Full name||Adrian Alston|
|Date of birth||6 February 1949|
|Place of birth||Preston, England|
|1967–1968||Preston North End|
|1968–1969||South Coast United|
|1977–1978||Tampa Bay Rowdies||19||(8)|
|1979||St. Petersburg Thunder Bolts|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12 May 2007.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 May 2007
Adrian Alston (born 6 February 1949) is a former professional footballer. Born in England, he began his career as a youth player with Preston North End before moving to Australia without making a first-team appearance. In Australia, he played for South Coast United, St George and Safeway United and was called up to the Australia national football team after two years in the country.
He made his international debut in 1969 and was instrumental in helping the side qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, the first time the nation had ever reached the finals tournament, where he featured in all three group matches. His performances attracted attention from around Europe and he eventually signed for First Division side Luton Town. After one season, he joined Cardiff City before moving to the North American Soccer League to join the newly formed Tampa Bay Rowdies where he finished his professional career.
His brother Alex was also a professional footballer.
Born in Preston, Alston was playing as an apprentice at his hometown club Preston North End when he was offered a deal which quadrupled his wages at Preston by Jimmy Kelly, manager of South Coast United in Australia. He had been playing with Preston for one year and was convinced to move after being told that the "heavy grounds" in England did not suit his playing style. He settled quickly in the country, scoring the goal that won the National Premier Leagues NSW Division One title in 1969 in a 1–1 draw with APIA Leichhardt and was chosen to play for a New South Wales representative side soon after. He later moved to St George and was offered a contract in Japan, along with teammate Attila Abonyi, after impressing in an Asian tournament that St George won but turned down the deal.
Return to Europe
His performances in the 1974 World Cup saw Alston receive offers from a number of clubs in Germany, including Hertha Berlin, Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Alston agreed a deal with Hertha that would include a $40,000 signing-on fee and a temporary apartment until he was able to secure his own living accommodation and a fee was agreed between Hertha and Safeway United. However, Alston received a late offer from Luton Town in The Football League who had tracked Alston following his performance against the side during a tour of England by the Australian national side in 1970, Alston having scored the winning goal during a 2–1 victory. The club had achieved promotion to the First Division, the highest tier in English football, the previous season and Alston decided to join the Hatters in order to help his wife settle and the lack of a language barrier.
In his debut season, Alston finished as the club's joint top goalscorer, along with Ron Futcher, in the league as the club suffered relegation. However, Alston spent just one season at Kenilworth Road as the club began to experience financial difficulties resulting in Alston not being paid at times. Alston later described his decision to reject offers from Germany and return to England with Luton as "the biggest mistake I ever made". Cardiff City manager Jimmy Andrews paid £20,000 to take him to Ninian Park with the club also agreeing to pay Alston the wages owed to him by Luton. He scored twice on his debut in a 4–3 win over Chesterfield and later went on to become the first post-war Cardiff player to score a hat-trick in the FA Cup in a 6–2 win over Exeter City. In his first season, the club won the Welsh Cup, qualifying for the European Cup Winners' Cup the following season. In the first round of the competition, Alston became the first Australian player to score in a European competition when he scored in a 1–0 victory over Georgian side Dinamo Tblisi on 15 September 1976.
After helping the club win promotion to Division Two, he struggled to reproduce his form the following year and left Cardiff to play in the NASL for Tampa Bay Rowdies. Alston later stated that he enjoyed playing for Cardiff more than any club in his career and had only chosen to accept Tampa's offer due to the money offered to him.
On his debut for the Rowdues in the NASL, Alston was unveiled to the club's fans by arriving in a helicopter. After his first season with Tampa, Alston returned to Australia to play for Canberra City, who were managed by his former international teammate Johnny Warren, as a guest player. He scored on his debut, during a 4–0 victory over Sydney Olympic, and made a total of ten appearances and scored three times before returning to Tampa. During his second season in the US, Alston suffered a knee injury that would eventually force him to retire from professional football.
Alston made his debut for the Australian national team on 19 July 1969 in a 1–0 friendly victory over Greece, who were undertaking a tour of Australia. Alston later commented that as soon as he began playing for Australia, he was "no longer English". He won two further caps in 1969, playing in two out of three matches of a tour of Rhodesia against the national side in November, before scoring his first international goal the following year in a friendly match against Greece.
Alston was instrumental in Australia's progress during the qualifying rounds for the 1974 World Cup, scoring three goals in the group stage and once during the final play-off match against Iran as Australia qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history. He was named in the squad for the tournament in West Germany by manager Rale Rasic. In the opening match against East Germany, Alston performed a move to beat defender Konrad Weise that was used later in the tournament by Dutch international Johan Cruyff and became known as the "Cruyff turn". Prior to the Australia side meeting West Germany in the group stage, German manager Helmut Schoen stated:
|“||"We have nothing to fear from Australia....apart from Adrian Alston"||”|
Alston started all three of Australia's matches at the tournament as they suffered defeats to East Germany and West Germany and drew 0–0 with Chile. He lost his place in the side soon after to John Kosmina but did return to play in the qualifying stages of the 1978 World Cup as Australia failed to qualify after a series of disappointing results and he was never called up for the side again. In total he represented Australia between 1969 and 1977 in 37 official matches, scoring 6 goals. Alston represented New South Wales in 1974 as a player and led the selection of the Illawarra region as coach in 2004.
Australia score listed first, score column indicates score after each Alston goal.
|1||17 November 1970||Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, Athens, Greece||Greece||1–0||3–1||Friendly|
|2||11 November 1971||Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia||Israel||2–2||2–2||Friendly|
|3||11 March 1973||Sydney Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia||Iraq||2–0||3–1||1974 FIFA World Cup qualifying|
|5||13 March 1973||Sydney Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia||Indonesia||2–1||2–1|
|6||18 August 1973||Sydney Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia||Iran||1–0||3–0|
- South Coast United
- National Premier Leagues NSW Division One winner: 1
- Cardiff City
- Welsh Cup winner: 1
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