Born in Rawmarsh on the 29th January 1939 Alick Jeffrey showed early promise and played for Yorkshire and England schoolboys. Just prior to leaving school, the Manchester united manager, Matt Busby invited Alick to sign for United only to find the youngster had already agreed to sign for Peter Doherty and join Doncaster Rovers. Busby missed out, but promised that Jeffrey would be a united player before long.
He made his first appearance in a strong Rovers side, which was tipped to challenge for promotion from division two, at the age of only 15, in September 1954 before scoring his first goal for the club in January 1955 in the sides 3-2 win at home to Plymouth, before hitting the headlines with a splendid cup brace against first division Aston Villa. Jeffrey had become a regular in the first team at 16 and ended the season with an impressive return of 9 goals but there was clearly more to follow. The following year, still in his mid-teens he notched a further13 league goals but it was the following year that the youngster would really explode onto the scene. The striker simply blew the opposition away scoring 15 times in just 13 games at the start of the 56/57 season and still only at 18 years of age was one of the hottest properties in English football. A spell of 6 goals in 3 games prompted Busby to make good his word and United began negotiations to sign the talented forward in October 1956. The deal all but complete, the clubs agreed Jeffrey would sign following the England under 23 international against France that month, only for fate to deliver a cruel blow.
During the game Alick sustained a double fracture to his right leg. Complications followed forcing him out of the game with the FA eventually awarding him compensation for a career ending injury, and English football had been robbed of one of its finest young talents.
Understandably heart broken, Alick went to non-league Skegness Town determined to make a recovery, only to receive another set back by breaking his other leg. This would surely have proved too much for most people but Jeffrey fought back for a second time and after months of further hard work he was ready to re-join Rovers and try to resurrect his career. In late 1963, with a season best 11,719 fans turning out to witness his comeback. Alick was soon back among the goals and his partnership with Laurie Sheffield helped the club win the league in 1966 with the pair scoring 50 goals between them.
Tragedy however was never far away and the following season Alick and club captain John Nicholson were involved in a car accident. Devastatingly John was killed and Alick was out of action for months. Understandably things were never quite the same from then on and Alick left the club in 1969. In total he had made 294 appearances for the club, scoring 140 goals; he was president of the club up to his death in December 2000.
Alick is universally accepted as being the clubs greatest ever player. Tremendous with either foot, a strong, powerful runner who was a great finisher, who knows what he may have achieved had he not been injured as an 18 year old, when history was robbed of a player who could have surely gone on to be one of the greatest of a golden generation. Even with his career at Belle Vue so devastatingly curtailed, he is still remembered with great fondness and admiration by all.
Alick Jeffrey Doncaster Rovers