Modern Greats: Chris Almond

In the 21st Century, more than 500 players have played First Team football for Prescot Cables and over 180 have scored a goal for the Pesky Bulls, but none has been more efficient in front of goal than Chris Almond.

In two and a half years at the club, Chris scored 62 goals in just 85 appearances. Kevin Garforth and Gary Jensen are the only two players to have found the net more times, but Kevin Garforth took 293 matches to score his 76 goals for the club and Gary Jensen hit the ‘onion bag’ 72 times in 131 appearances. On average, Chris Almond scored a goal every 1.3 games for Prescot, which is the best ‘games per goal’ ratio of any Cables player to have scored at least 20 times this century.

Chris was brought to the club by Brian Richardson, who before taking the top job at Prescot had coached Chris at Skelmersdale United and even taught him at school. Having joined Skem in 2008, Chris played for them until being signed by Southport for an undisclosed fee. In 18 months at Haig Avenue, he scored 14 goals in 58 appearances. He then moved to Chorley, helping the Magpies to win the Northern Premier League Championship. After leaving Victory Park, Chris returned to Skelmersdale United before Brian Richardson lured him to Cables.

His debut came in an away match at Bamber Bridge on Boxing Day 2016 and was marked by a goal in a 5-1 win. Plenty more would follow, including the first of four hat-tricks for the club in a 7-2 victory over Glossop North End as Almond rattled in 12 goals in just 18 games, helping Prescot to ease away from relegation and lift their first-ever Liverpool Senior Cup, with a win over his former club Southport.

In an ‘away’ match against Skelmersdale played at Prescot on New Year’s Day 2018, he scored four times against his former club in a 6-1 victory. He also scored in the Liverpool Senior Cup Final as Cables retained the trophy, romping to a 4-0 win at Marine. But his season was regularly disrupted by injury; he started only half of Cables’ matches during 2017-18 and ended the campaign with 19 goals from 31 appearances.

Injuries would again prove disruptive during Almond’s final season at Prescot, but not to the same extent as the popular and versatile player hit a season long ‘purple patch’. Interviewed in the programme for the home match against Droylesden, which was played on 8th December 2018, Chris discussed his excellent form.

“I’ve managed to score a few goals over the course of my career. I finished as top scorer for Skelmersdale United for a few seasons when I was there a few years ago and I was the top scorer for Southport in the first season I was there. But yes, I think my current record at Prescot is the best of my career in terms of a goals to games ratio.”

And yes, Chris did score in that game. Twice.

By this stage in his career, Almond had turned 32 and, having played at a higher level, was considered a ‘wise head’ around which a young squad had been built, although he wore the responsibility lightly, remarking in the same interview:

“I don’t think it adds any pressure, I think everyone is under pressure to go and perform and keep hold of your shirt.”

Although he remained a key selection when available, Chris missed the 2019 Liverpool Senior Cup Final through injury and Cables were unfortunate to relinquish their grip on the trophy, losing on penalties to Southport. Despite a strong finish to the 2018-19 season, in which Cables won their last four matches with a combined goal difference of 16-3 and Almond scored four times, the Pesky Bulls narrowly missed out on the promotion play-offs. Chris Almond had played in 36 of their 51 matches and scored 31 goals in all competitions – a remarkable return and enough to win him the Golden Boot as the NPL West Division’s leading goalscorer.

At the end of that campaign, manager Brian Richardson left for the Assistant Manager’s role at FC United of Manchester, taking Chris Almond and several of his team-mates with him. Given that FC United were at a higher level and usually played in front of four-figure crowds, few people could begrudge those who travelled down the East Lancs Road their move. However, almost 18 months later, Almond has yet to play a competitive match for the Red Rebels.

In May 2020, Chris Almond told the FC United of Manchester website the story:

“We met up for the first pre-season session which was brutal, I’d heard about Reno’s empasis on fitness and it was a tough mix of 1500m, 800m, 400m, 200m and 100m – and the other sessions didn’t really let up but I felt really good, the work I’d kept up over the summer had meant while it was hard it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could have been. It came to the fourth session though and my hamstring went a bit tight, with my experience I should have just felt my way through the session but we did a sprinting drill and I then felt my hamstring go, it was really frustrating as it meant I was going to miss quite a few sessions plus the first few pre-season games.

“The Bangor 1876 game came along and …my hammy felt good, and I was itching to get on, so we agreed that I’d come on for the last 20 minutes. I warmed up before the game and at half time and felt fine, so I came on as planned and with my first touch scored a tap in. Then shortly afterwards Craig Carney had played a ball through and I’m quite quick so I would normally drive through with the ball, but with my hamstring on my mind I thought I would play the ball out to someone who was making a run on the outside of me, so as the ball came to me I tried a Cruyff turn so that I could play them in but as I turned I heard a crack and felt my knee give way a little.

“I went for a scan and I presumed it would come back that it’d be a torn meniscus but during the time I was waiting for the scan results I was working and it gave way again, but this time it gave way and my knee locked so I couldn’t straighten my leg. Shortly after I got my results and it was a torn meniscus but I’d also completely snapped my ACL, so it meant it would be a lot longer. My knee had locked becase the torn meniscus had torn a bit more with me walking on it then folded over inside my knee so there was no space in the joint for my leg to straighten out and so it locked, known as a ’Bucket Handle’ meniscus tear.

“That meant that my ACL surgery couldn’t be done until the meniscus was healed, so that needed to be operated on, then have three months of rehab on that, then the ACL reconstruction after that.”

Sadly, the pandemic arrived before Chris’ ACL surgery did and he is still waiting for his operation; it had been due to take place this month, but the new lockdown may prevent that from happening. Once the reconstruction takes place, Chris will need 6-9 months of physiotherapy and recovery before returning to the pitch.

Having been hugely popular during his time with Cables, Chris Almond will carry the good wishes of our supporters with him as he seeks to return to full fitness. His contribution to the club means he will always be a Pesky Bull.