Alan Birchenall

Leicester City In 100 Players: Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall

Club Historian John Hutchinson reviews the careers of 100 of the most outstanding players to represent Leicester Fosse and Leicester City in the Club’s 138-year history. The series continues with Alan Birchenall, whose 51-year association with Leicester City, both on and off the pitch, has been truly remarkable.
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The Birch, as he is universally known, signed for Leicester City in 1971 with a formidable reputation as a striker forged at the highest level with Sheffield United, Chelsea and Crystal Palace. An England Under-23s international, he was one of the first players to command a £100,000 fee when he was Dave Sexton’s maiden signing at Chelsea in November 1967.

In his three years at Stamford Bridge, he played nearly 100 games. He then moved to Crystal Palace in June 1970 for another £100,000 fee, before arriving at Filbert Street in September 1971 in yet another deal reportedly worth £100,000 and which involved Bobby Kellard going to Selhurst Park.  

The Birch came to Leicester as a striker but spent most of his career at Filbert Street in the centre of a midfield three playing alongside Jon Sammels and Keith Weller. 

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Alan Birchenall
Alan Birchenall

The Birch was an iconic player who would add to his legend after hanging up his boots.

He was a regular in the first team for the next four seasons and a key part of Jimmy Bloomfield’s City teams which were among the most entertaining sides in England, a team whose style was epitomised by the likes of Birchenall, Sammels, Weller, Worthington and Glover. His spectacular goal against Leeds United at Filbert Street is still played on the big screens before kick-off today. On their day, Bloomfield’s team could beat anybody.

After leaving Filbert Street, Alan played for San Jose Earthquakes and Memphis Rogues as well as for Notts County, Blackburn Rovers, Luton Town and Hereford United. He was also player-manager at Trowbridge Town. However, his association with Leicester City continued.

His 40 annual charity runs became a regular feature prior to the last game of every season. Working with the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation, he has personally raised over £1M benefitting more than 100 local charities.

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Alan Birchenall
Alan Birchenall

Joining the class of 2016 in toasting the Club's greatest-ever achievement - winning the Premier League.

His charity work with the Club was rewarded with an MBE in 2003, his appointment as an Honorary Freeman of Leicester in 2009, and the award of a Master of Law degree from the University of Leicester in 2011.

He was granted a testimonial by Leicester City in 2000 and, in 2011, he was appointed the Club’s first ever ambassador-for-life. He has interpreted this role in his own distinctive way, working tirelessly to help others in the community.

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