Deptford, London born centre half Alf Messer began his football career with Sutton Town after the First World War from where he joined Midland League club Mansfield Town in 1921. In 1922 he signed for Nottingham Forest spending 1922-23 on their books without playing a senior match. Messer signed for Third Division (Sourh) club Reading in 1923 making his Football League debut at Luton Town that December and went on to score 19 goals in 295 appearances between 1923 and 1929, missing only 6 first team matches during that period and being ever present in three of his six seasons at Elm Park, including when Reading won the Third Division (South) Championship in 1925-26. He was, in all respects, the definition of a stalwart of the Reading team of the time with a reputation as a very powerful header of the ball.
In 1927 he was a key member of The Royals’ team that got to the FA Cup semi final where they lost 3-0 to eventual winners Cardiff City at Molineux. He was club captain from 1928 and despite his tough, uncompromising play, he was described as ‘a gentleman both on and off the pitch’. Messer eventually signed for Second Division Tottenham Hotspur in July 1930, and at the time was described as “a brilliant defender who is also an attacking force. Messer is a master at ball control and can dribble his way through to have a long shot at goal”. Messer made 53 appearances for Spurs, finding the net twice, before leaving White Hart Lane in 1934 to join Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic, where he made a further 10 appearances and ended his playing career in 1936.