Albert McPherson was a towering influence in Black Country football. The tall, muscular Lancastrian stood like a mighty oak at the heart of the Walsall rearguard in the 1950s and '60s, skippering the Saddlers to the most uplifting achievements in their history, then nurtured emerging stars, including the young Bryan Robson, during his lengthy spell as a coach and trainer with West Bromwich Albion.
He entered the professional game with Bury in 1949, but after three seasons without a senior call-up he fell out with the management and joined Stalybridge Celtic of the Cheshire League. Two fulfilling campaigns later in May 1954, having proved he was too accomplished for the lower level, he was recruited by Walsall's visionary manager Major Frank Buckley.
Soon he was made captain and, under a different manager in Bill Moore, he led Walsall to successive promotions, the Fourth Division title of 1959-60 followed by the runners-up spot in the third tier in 1960-61 – behind Bury. In an exhilarating side in which prolific forwards Colin Taylor and Tony Richards stood out, McPherson was the defensive focal point and a crucial factor in achieving success.
Though he remained a dominant performer, he could not prevent relegation in 1962-63; a year later he joined the coaching staff of top-flight West Bromwich Albion. After helping the first team to League Cup glory in 1966 and another final in 1967, he found his most productive niche working with youngsters, becoming mentor and friend to the likes of Robson, Remi Moses, Len Cantello and Derek Statham. He retired in the mid-1980s, rejoicing in respect throughout the game.
Albert McPherson, footballer and coach: born Salford 8 July 1927; played for Walsall 1954-64; died 11 January 2015.