Crewe Alexandra is a club with a glorious reputation, a League One outfit that play aesthetically pleasing football.
They have earned plaudits from many journalists and ex-professionals for their approach play.
Run on a shoestring budget in a small town known for its railway heritage, the club has had to structure itself carefully to remain financially stable and successful on the pitch. Despite being limited to one of the lowest transfer budgets in the whole of English football, this has not prevented the club’s ambition and success.
Their brand of football has seen a superb resurgence through the Football League under the guidance of former Burnley, Barnsley and Crewe defender Steve Davis.
He has been at the helm during The Railwaymen’s rapid ascension up the table in the midst of a club-record 18 match unbeaten streak which concluded in their 2-0 win against Cheltenham Town in the League Two Play-Off Final in April 2012.
Their return to League One last season was as equally successful as Davis managed the side to a solid 13th placed finish and their first major Cup victory as they defeated Southend United 2-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium.
Davis’ current 45.45% win ratio stands as the most successful ratio of any Crewe manager to date, only closely rivalled by George Lillycrop’s Second World War ratio of 44.44%.
The Alex’s most glorified accomplishment however, is its ability to nurture talent. The Crewe Alex academy is known to stress technical excellence, which accords with the aim to have the first team play attractive, passing football.
The current Director of Football and Director of the Academy Dario Gradi, who managed Crewe for 1,362 games over several spells, is well known across the country for his ability to recognise and adapt young footballing talent. Gradi helped launch the careers of many players who went on to play top division and even international football.
These include failed Manchester United apprentice David Platt who went on afterwards to captain England,Rob Jones and Danny Murphy who went on to play for Liverpool, Seth Johnson who featured for Derby County and Leeds United, Welsh international Robbie Savage and regular Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon.
His success continued into the 21st Century, where he has helped launch the career of a new generation of young stars including former fans’ favourite Rob Hulse, Dean Ashton, David Vaughan and Manchester United's teen starlet Nick Powell.
Gradie earned many accolades for his renowned success at Crewe, including an MBE in January 1998 for his contribution to football.
Crewe’s reputation has recently been tainted by an incident in Cornwall whilst attending a training camp on their pre-season tour. After their 2-1 victory in a friendly against Truro City on Friday evening, it is alleged that several Crewe players were involved in an act of sexual assault against a 20-year-old woman in the town of Redruth.
Initially, five players were arrested on suspicion of assault in the early hours of Saturday morning and a further two men were later arrested in Cheshire in connection with the incident. This is Staffordshire report that the men’s ages are 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 24 and 35. The club have deemed it irresponsible to comment during a police investigation and the seven have since been released on bail by Devon and Cornwall Police. They are due to report back to police between September 30 and October 8.
The Railwaymen earned glowing positive publicity after fielding a squad of 11 home-grown academy graduates in the 2-0 final day win at home to Walsall last season.
That reputation faces the prospect of being left in tatters should the allegations prove to be true. The story has made headlines at major institutions such as BBC Sport and various national newspapers and will have a ripple effect on the club’s future.
The club itself has had to cancel their orthodox weekly conference as they attempt to ascertain the situation. Until the club release official information, no-one bar the Police know if the allegations are true or false and the fans will have to worryingly await the situation’s outcome.
A majority have called for the players to be shown the door should it be true, no matter who those involved are.
Hopefully for the club, its fans and everyone involved, the allegations will prove to be false and the club’s reputation will remain significantly less unscathed. Should that not be the case however, and then the club could be in for a very unwelcome dilemma. Until then, all speculation and judgement should be reserved.
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