Marin Soccer League

 Alan Sproates June 30, 1944 ~ February 6, 2015

Marin’s corner of the footballing world suffered a loss this month, with the passing, at age seventy, of former English professional Alan Sproates, who played at one time in Marin Soccer League’s predecessor, the Mayflower Soccer League, with clubs including Inter Marin, Old Boys, Skandia and Real Marin. He is survived by the love-of-his-life, and wife of 17-years, Bonnie.
A native of Hetton-le-Hole, a village in County Durham, in the northeast of England, Alan was a skilled and gritty midfielder, born and bred in a quarry and coal-mining region that also produced professionals Ralph Coates (Tottenham Hotspur), Bob Paisley (Liverpool F.C.) and Bryan Robson (Sunderland and Newcastle United).
Alan’s technical skills and talents as an incisive distributor and offensive sparkplug brought him to the attention of Sunderland, where he played at Roker Park, in the early 1960s. He was subsequently traded to Darlington F.C., (“The Quakers”) where he was a popular crowd-pleaser at the Feethams cricket ground pitch. He played there from 1965 to 1974, appearing in 315 league matches, and was revered by fans there as “Quick Quaker Sproates”. (On his arrival, the local Northern Echo newspaper, gushed, “The Quakers have found a winner in Sproates!”) Looking back at his life in soccer, Alan noted that when the Quakers clinched promotion in his first season with them, for the first time in over 40-years, “That was an amazing day when the whistle went. All the crowd came on the pitch to celebrate; that day was the highlight of my career,” he said.
Alan was loaned to the Miami Toros of the fledgling North American Soccer League in 1973, and then decided to pursue new ventures in Adelaide, Australia. There he was signed by the Ukrainian Sports Club Lions, playing in the South Australian First Division. While with USC he was voted, “Best & Fairest Player in the League,” and awarded the prestigious John Martin Medal, in 1975, recognizing the league’s MVP.
Soon after, however, Alan came back to the U.S., in the late 1970s playing for the Los Angeles Skyhawks in the American Soccer League, and the San Francisco Fog of the Major Indoor Soccer League. It was in the Bay Area that Alan met Bonnie, and where he finally retired as a professional, moving on to coach youth soccer teams, lead summer soccer training camps, and play the occasional match in the Marin Soccer League and in local tournaments.
A kind soul, with a dry and gentle British wit, Alan kept current on local and international football doings, and enjoyed sharing the occasional pint (or two) with friends. He will be missed by all who knew him, especially his soccer brethren.
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A gathering of friends, to celebrate the life and times of Alan Sproates, was held at the Mayflower Pub, 1533 Fourth Street, San Rafael, on Sunday, March 1st and for pictures and comments of the event go to

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