Tributes paid to Worthing-born England defender who faced the great Bobby Moore

Tributes have been paid to Worthing born Alan Dennis, who captained England Boys Clubs in 1959, who died recently aged 79.

Alan Dennis during his playing days
Alan Dennis during his playing days

Dennis, along with fellow Worthing Boys Club player, Brian ‘Spiv’ Sirrell played against Wales, winning 2-1, under floodlights at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Molyneux Ground in February 1959, followed by another game against the Principality, this time a 1-1 draw, at Eastbourne.

Recalling the game Sirrell told the Herald: "It was the first time we’d ever played under lights, and at the end of the game Wolves boss Stan Cullis came in and said he wanted to sign us both, but at the time we were registered as amateurs with Arsenal.”

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Whilst at Eastbourne United, then one of top non-league clubs in Sussex, Dennis played for Under 18’s and in December 1958 played against West Ham United in the FA Youth Cup.

Alan Dennis' England cap

Eastbourne lost 6-0 and a 17-year-old Bobby Moore scored from the penalty spot, his only goal from 12 yards in his entire career.

Dennis also had trials for Portsmouth, played for Worthing and late became arguably one of the best players to ever grace the Worthing League.

Brian continued: “Right from a young lad Alan was lovely man, with a wonderful sense of humour, when he packed up football he’d already moved to Tangmere, he became manager of Halnaker.

"Pre-season he took the team up on the Downs and asked them all to join hands, and then broke into a chorus of ‘The Hills are Alive, with The Sound of Music’.”

Alan Dennis

Alan’s son Clive said: “My Dad’s sad passing has reiterated to us how many people lives he touched, we’ve been overwhelmed with the cards and messages received. With limited funeral numbers due to Covid those who couldn’t attend the Crematorium saw him off from Ian Hart’s funeral office before watching the service on the internet. "

Alan is survived by his wife, Val, sons Clive and Mark, stepchildren Gary and Sarah.

His grandsons, Rob, Tommy, Chris, Jamie and Sam have followed in his footsteps and all played local football.

Donations in Alan’s memory can be sent to the British Heart Foundation, c/o Ian Hart Funeral Service online at