Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Saturday, 14th July 2012
Date and Place of Birth
22nd June 1967 - Manchester
Transfers to and from Burnley
from Stoke City - 17th December 1998
released - 14th May 1999
First and Last Burnley Games
Northampton Town (h) - 19th December 1998
Northampton Town (a) - 8th May 1999
replaced by Brad Maylett
Chesterfield, Chester City (loan)
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
Burnley were in something of a mess in December 1998. We were struggling near the bottom of the third tier of English football and were right in the middle of a run that saw us conceded 22 goals in six successive away games.
The only bright news on the horizon was a promise of better things with the arrival of new director Barry Kilby who was set to underwrite a new rights issue to try and bring in some much needed money.
Ahead of that, Kilby offered his financial support to manager Stan Ternent and before a home game against Northampton Town he swooped to sign Stoke City right back Ally Pickering. Ternent was delighted.
"Ally has a lot of experience and I need that at the moment. He is a good player. He's available on a free transfer, and I hope to be taking him until the end of the season. This signing, hopefully, is a start and he is a steady player who will go straight into the reckoning."
Pickering was 31 and had been in the reckoning for a few years having started his Football League career late with Rotherham United. He was 22 by the time he joined the Millers having previously played in non-league football with Buxton. That move brought with it a record transfer fee for Buxton of £16,500, a record which still stands today.
He quickly won a place in the Rotherham side and featured against the Clarets in the 1991/92 season as both teams won promotion from the old fourth division. He went on to play 88 times for Rotherham before a transfer to the Premier League with Coventry City in 1993.
He enjoyed three seasons at Coventry and it was something of a surprise when, in the summer of 1996, he left for Stoke City. He'd played a full season for the Sky Blues in 1995/06 in the Premier League but they accepted £80,000 for him as Lou Macari took him to the Potteries.
For two full seasons, Ally Pickering was the first choice right back at Stoke and played against us in the League Cup in the second of those seasons. However, an injury at the start of the next season saw him ruled out and once fit he was unable to get back into the first team.
Manager at Stoke by then was Brian Little, and he said at the time of his move to Burnley: "It's a good move for Ally and a good one for the club. He has had his problems with injuries this season and it has been an unfortunate few months for him.
"It has been looking increasingly difficult for him to get back into the side and this could be a fresh start for him."
It was a fresh start. He'd played in Stoke's first two games of the season before the injury but that had been it until his arrival at Turf Moor where he went straight into the first team for the home game against Northampton, a game we lost 2-0.
The Burnley team that day was: Paul Crichton, Ally Pickering, Matt Heywood, Brian Reid, Gordon Armstrong, John O'Kane, Chris Brass, Mark Ford, Mark Robertson, Andy Cooke, Andy Payton. Subs: Steve Morgan, Kevin Henderson, Phil Eastwood.
It was an awful performance but things started to get better for the Clarets and Pickering was very much part of that improvement. He settled into the right back position and made it his own, missing only four games in the remainder of the season.
Three of those misses came in successive games in January after he suffered an ankle injury and he was also ruled out of the 6-0 home defeat against Manchester City after being one of two players sent off in a 2-0 loss at Wycombe, the only time Pickering was on the losing side in ten away appearances for Burnley.
Burnley eventually climbed away from the drop zone and ended the season without defeat in any of the last eleven games. Pickering played in all of those games with one of them a memorable occasion for him when he scored a stunning goal to give us an early lead in a sensational 4-1 win back at his previous club Stoke.
It was a poignant moment for him. He almost didn't play when, just four days before the game, his dad passed away. "I lost my old fella on Tuesday and I came to prove to my dad that I could come here and do a good job," he said.
"He's been everywhere with me so it was like a personal thing for me. My mum made me play really. She said to me 'go there and show them what they've been missing' so I came and scored a goal like that."
It looked very much as though Burnley had found the answer to the right back problems but on the last day of the season, ironically against Northampton, rumours were circulating that he would not be getting a new deal.
It was difficult to imagine, even more so when he was named in the side, although those rumours increased when he was surprisingly replaced just past the half hour with Brad Maylett replacing him.
Three days later, when Ternent announced his retained list, Pickering was one of eleven players not to be offered a new contract. No one was surprised by any of the others but the manager said: "I have had to make some tough decisions this time round but that's what I'm paid for and I've made them."
Pickering dropped out of league football, signing for Altrincham, but returned with a move to Chesterfield. Whilst there he spent a time on loan at Chester City and, in February 2000, played his last ever Football League game although it wasn't a memorable day with Chester beaten 7-1 at home by Brighton with Bobby Zamora grabbing a hat trick.
His days in football certainly weren't over, and at the time of writing they still aren't. He went on to play non-league football for Hyde United (twice), Gainsborough Trinity and Mossley before becoming Mossley manager in 2001.
Two spells as manager of Woodley Sports followed. He was there from 2005 to 2007 and a year later returned with the club saying: "Ally was everyone's favourite for the job. His entertaining style of football has been missed.
"We were aware that our fans wanted Ally back at the club and the new board have acted quickly in securing his services."
Having left Woodley for a second time he was appointed caretaker manager of New Mills in March 2010. In his first full season in charge he guided them to the North West Counties Premier Division title.
Ahead of the 2012/13 season, Ally Pickering continues as manager of New Mills.