The TNS Top 50 All time Latics players: #36 – Roy Tunks

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Let’s get this show moving again then with another entry into the Wigan Athletic hall of fame. This time it’s another custodian up on the podium and one of long-standing at that. Anyway, by now some folk might be getting sick of my prose dare I say so it’s time to hand over to one or two guest writers and I had only one name in mind when it came to the subject of Roy Tunks:


TUNKSY! By Les Bagg


Being a kid who preferred getting covered in slutch trying to save goals as opposed to scoring them, my earliest heroes were always goalkeepers. Banks, Zoff, Maier, Stepney and Shilton; I was like a cross between Jan Tomaszewski and Paddy Roche!


John Brown was my first Latics green shirted idol, but he couldn’t go on for ever, Bob Ward looked the answer but injury put paid to his career so we needed a full time man in the nets; that man would be Roy Tunks and when I heard we’d signed him I was chuffed to bits.


I already knew Tunksy through my late and great Uncle Frank, he was a fanatical Preston fan and I’d sometimes join him and my cousins at Deepdale  for the odd midweek game. Frank was a “What’s said in the ground stays in the ground” kind of bloke, and me and the cousins used to giggle away as Frank threw the crème de la crème of insults and obscenities at any PNE players who were not playing up to scratch. A player he never, ever abused was Roy Tunks and I could see why, he always seemed to be outstanding and was so cool he could chill milk!


We crossed swords for the first time with PNE in the League Cup in 1980-81 and I was full of admiration for both goalkeepers, I wanted Tunks to play for us, my wish would come true, soon.


He played his first game for us away at Hereford during the 81-82 promotion season, one of the Smiths Happiway Spencer’s away trips, full of Long Life and bravado, I was proud as punch to see our new keeper, because I’d told people how good he was yonks ago! That was basically it for the following six years, first name on the team sheet in every way, as reliable a netter that you could wish for.


The iconic games that he played in for us along with his consistency in the bread and butter matches are a telling legacy of his contribution to this club’s history.


The classic Springfield Park floodlit games v Chelsea and Villa along with promotion in 81/82, the near miss promotion years of ’86 and ’87, with the glorious FA Cup run of the latter. Tunks was a vital and inspirational presence behind some of Latics’ most exciting football teams before the Whelan revolution.  Roy Tunks name will forever be chiselled into the Wigan Athletic stone tablet as the man who saved three penalties on that  marvellous, muddy Monday night in Mansfield (in May!) to take us to Wembley and into football immortality as the first winners of the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985.


We took in a cat, an old chap had died and his cat needed a home so it came to us. I have this habit, if I have a Kit Kat or any biscuit wrapped in silver paper I roll the paper up and keep it handy. The silver paper ball then flies across the front room in the direction of whoever has upset me on the television. One day the silver ball was taking it’s usual path towards the screen, the cat followed it, jumped athletically and stretched out a paw to tip the silver ball around the side of the television. The cat as yet didn’t have a name…”TUNSKY!” I shouted. It had one now!


Roy Tunks Career Profile by Bernard Ramsdale

DOB: 21st January 1951
Other clubs: Rotherham United, York City, Ipswich Town, Newcastle United, Preston North End, Hartlepool United, Blackburn Rovers (goalkeeping coach), Newcastle United (goalkeeping coach), Tranmere Rovers (goalkeeping coach)
Honours: Freight Rover Trophy winner 1985 (Wigan Athletic)

Roy was signed from Preston North End for £7,500 by Larry Lloyd in November 1981 following injury to John Brown and Lloyd wanted an experienced man between the sticks as Bob Ward was the only other keeper at the club. He made his Latics League debut on 7th November 1981 against Hereford United at Springfield Park. The game resulted in a 1-1 draw.

Roy never really looked back after that and went on to become one of the best goalkeeper the club has had. His stay at Springfield Park lasted until the end of season 1987/88 when he joined Hartlepool United for a brief spell before returning to Preston as goalkeeping coach. In total he made 245 League appearances for the Blues and was very popular among the fans.



36. Roy Tunks

37. Gary Teale

38. Eamon O’Keeffe

39. Joe Hinnigan

40. Ian Kilford

41. Hugo Rodallega

42. James McCarthy

43. Mickey Worswick

44. Noel Ward

45. Simon Haworth

46. Gary Caldwell

47. Mike Pollitt

48. Bert Llewellyn

49. Bryan Griffiths

50. = Graham Barrow

50. = Maynor Figueroa

50. = Paul Jewell

50. = Graham Kavanagh

50. = Henri Camara

50. = Lee Cattermole



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