The non-league memories of Mick Worswick – A Latics Legend
PART ONE – MICK’S FOOTBALLING JOURNEY.
About five years ago Mick kindly agreed to recall some of his football memories for the old YOTAC site. The interviews I conducted with him gave a superb insight into the club during the mid 1970’s. I have decided to reproduce them here at TNS so that they are not lost due to the advent of TNS.
I personally found ithem very interesting and I would never have guessed that Mick played under Jimmy Milne, who was the player/manager of Wigan Athletic as long ago as 1946. The irony of him signing just after Jimmy’s son, Gordon, left the Springfield Park managerial hot seat has not been lost on me either!
What follows is Mick’s story. A story of determination and success, even though Mick himself is too modest to admit it. He aspired to be one of the best players to put on the blue shirt of Wigan Athletic AFC. Here is the first part of the interview in ful…
“I was brought up on the Moor Nook estate in Preston and lived about a dozen houses away from Brian Hall (of Liverpool fame – BR) and also about 100 yards away from Mickey Burns, who of course went on to play for Blackpool and Newcastle United. For the schoolboys of that time, there was not much to do when school had finished, or at weekends, so, naturally, all three of us honed our football skills at every given opportunity and desperately wanted to become professionals.
“I was the first of our trio to be invited to a professional club at the age of fifteen, when Blackburn Rovers offered me trials. Unfortunately, I was not asked to join the ground staff (the equivalent of today’s football apprenticeship – BR) but I did stay for three seasons as an amateur playing in the junior teams. The highlight being an FA Youth Cup tie against Liverpool at Ewood Park, where I played left half (which was always number 6 and is today left midfield).
“Not only that, but I was in direct opposition to a certain Tommy Smith. We drew 0-0 and although we lost the replay at Anfield, before a sizeable crowd, it was a great experience and it made me even more determined to become a professional football player. Mickey and Brian by this time, had both gone off to University and I was serving an engineering apprenticeship with the Goss Printing Press in Preston. As time went by I eventually realised that I was not going to make it at Blackburn Rovers. After leaving Ewood Park I was invited to play in Preston North End’s junior team and soon after I played three reserve team games on the trot. These were against Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale and against Leeds United at Elland Road. Towards the end of that season and after having a talk with the North End manager, Jimmy Milne, it was obvious to me that I was not going to be offered professional terms at Deepdale. (Mick is still a Preston North End supporter – BR)
“The dream of playing League football had all but disappeared, so after one reserve team game for Queen of the South (and another ‘don’t ring us and we wont ring you’ episode), I joined non- league Burscough and picked up my £1 expenses every Saturday for the 1965-66 season. By this time Mickey Burns was playing for Skelmersdale United and he was responsible for me joining them and receiving a rise in expenses to thirty bob (£1-50).
“Never in a million years would I have thought that in the next two seasons I would play at Wembley in an FA Amateur Cup Final in front of 75,000 spectators, a replay at Maine Road with 55,000 fans in attendance and an Amateur International for England against Italy. That particular Skem team was one of considerable talent. Mickey Burns and Alan Mansley went to play for Blackpool, Alan Bermingham signed for Wrexham, Norman Whitehead was offered a contract at Rochdale (Norman signed for Latics from his last Football League club, Grimsby Town in 1976 and went on to play six times for Latics – BR) and our skipper, Dave Moorcroft, joined Dallas Tornadoes in the States.
“Me? I joined Chorley as a semi-professional, but after the initial disappointment of once again missing out, and not being quite good enough to join a Football League club, I enjoyed four happy seasons with them, and of course, in 1972 it led to me joining Wigan Athletic. I had formed the opinion, in games that I had played against Latics, for Skem and Chorley, that they were the best non-league club in the country,bar none, and my judgement was spot on, and a wonderful six or so seasons later my dream of playing in the Football League finally came true when I made a twelve or so minutes long appearance as a substitute against Newport County at the grand old age of 33.
“Shortly afterwards I joined Barrow at the start of the inaugural season of the Alliance Premier League (now the Conference of course) who were managed by my old Latics team mate Mickey Taylor. (Mickey Taylor signed for Latics from Netherfield at the start of season 1972/73 and went on to make 74+1 NPL games for Latics, scoring twice – BR). I had two very happy seasons there before I finally decided to hang up my boots.”
I would like, once again, to thank my first ever Latics hero for taking the time and trouble to bring yet another wave of nostalgia over all of us who will never forget from whence Wigan Athletic, the town’s Premier sporting club, came.
Part two to follow…
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