Football: Vickers rejected United for Stoke ... and never looked back
HE turned down Liverpool and Manchester United to score more than a thousand goals for the likes of Kidsgrove Athletic, Leek Town and Northwich Victoria.
And now Alan Vickers has got his hands on a medal ... from the Football Association to mark his 50 years' service to the game.
The award is not only for Vickers' remarkable performances on the field.
The 65-year-old is also the long-serving chairman of the Sentinel Charity Football Competitions, helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for local good causes.
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A career which began with Park Road YC in the Stoke League in 1963 soon moved on to Bank Athletic of Mow Cop and then Kidsgrove Athletic.
His ability in front of goal didn't go unnoticed by Liverpool's chief scout, the former Port Vale manager Norman Low.
Vickers recalls: "I was working at Burslem Tile Works and, when I went home for my dinner, my mum told me a man had been there in a white suit with a white carnation driving a white Jaguar.
"It was Norman Low and he wanted me to get in touch so I could play in a reserve game at Anfield.
"I went back to work and told my boss, Joe Hill, who was also a hospital radio broadcaster.
"He told me to go home, get changed and he'd take me to meet someone.
"Back I went and he took me to meet the then-Port Vale manager, Stanley Matthews.
"I signed for Vale instead but, after being there for a few months, it was obvious it wasn't going to happen for me.
"I'd had to ring Norman Low and tell him I wasn't coming to Liverpool. He told me I'd made a mistake because I could always drop down if things didn't work out at Liverpool, but I couldn't do it the other way around. Our paths would cross again a few years later when he was manager of Witton Albion.
"I scored five goals against them for Kidsgrove and Norman got the sack at half-time. They didn't even give the poor beggar until the end of the game."
Opportunity knocked again for Vickers when he scored 16 goals in the first six games of the 1969-70 season for Kidsgrove.
He was invited for a two-week trial at Manchester United by Jimmy Murphy, assistant manager to the legendary Matt Busby. However, Vickers was injured, so he went to see physio Doug Brown, who would later become Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent.
"I told Doug about the offer from Manchester United and he took me down to Stoke City instead. Tony Waddington popped his head around the door and I signed for Stoke.
"I did play reserve-team football for Stoke for 12 months.
"I don't suppose many people have said 'no' to Liverpool and Manchester United, but I definitely did.
"My excuse is I couldn't drive until I was 27, so I would'nt have been able to have get there!"
United's loss was quite a gain for several non-league clubs as Vickers became a phenomenal success.
He'd catch three buses to play for Oswestry, then a leading non-league club managed by Jackie Mudie and employing Mel Charles as Vickers's strike partner. He also enjoyed notable success at Northwich Vics under the guidance of Paul Ogden, who would also manage him at Leek Town.
Northwich reached the fourth round of the FA Cup in 1977, beating Rochdale, Peterborough and Elton John's Watford before losing 3-1 to Oldham Athletic in front of 29,000 fans after the game was switched to Manchester City's Maine Road ground.
Northwich's success earned them an invitation to take part in an Anglo-Italian tournament later that year, pitting them against Parma, Cremonese, Lecce and Teramo.
Vickers recalls: "In the home games against the Italian sides, Paul Ogden told me to take no prisoners. So, by the time we got over to Italy for the games there, their local paper was describing me as a Karate expert."
Despite playing in the FA and Anglo-Italian Cups, one of Vickers's fondest memories is winning the Sentinel Cup with Kidsgrove in 1967.
In fact, he scored a hat-trick in the final to help Kidsgrove beat Knutton Village Hall 3-1.
Such is his regard for the Sentinel football that he was honoured to join the Sentinel competitions committee in 1982.
He said: "The Sentinel Cup has a special place in the affections of football people in this area.
"I adore the competitions and am proud that we have also raised thousands of pounds for good causes, including equipment for special schools.
"There is a lot of demand for the competitions and they continue to go from strength to strength."
Vickers is also in good health having survived a major scare last summer.
He suffered an aneurysm while on holiday in Majorca and underwent a five-and-a-half hour life-saving operation before he was able to fly home. He now keeps in shape with regular walks around Trentham Gardens with, among others, former Stoke City stars Terry Conroy, Gordon Banks, Denis Smith, Brendan O'Callagan, John Ruggiero, Harry Burrows and Jimmy Greenhoff.
You really wouldn't want to take them on in a kick about.