Anyone for a pantomime villain? Here we had a player who had amazing, natural ability but was often guilty of that most heinous of crimes to a Wigan Athletic crowd, the crime of not quite giving 100% all the time.
Watching back my old videos, my first recollection of Haworth was of a rangy youngster banging in a winner for Cardiff at Springfield Park, looking roughly half the size he did when he signed for Latics, still a relatively lean looking young man.
The big Welshman was Latics’ record signing when Ray Mathias paid Coventry City £600,000 for his services on 2nd October 1998 – note no transfer window back then. He quickly became the fulcrum of a devastating attacking triumvirate alongside Stuart Barlow and “Sir” Andrew Liddell during our final season at Springfield Park.
The newly constructed JJB Stadium was looming in the horizon and it was Simon Haworth who bagged the first competitive goal at the new ground, one of a brace to put Scunthorpe to the sword 3-0. He also crashed home the winner against Bristol City two weeks’ later in Latics’ next game at the JJB Stadium.
He will be remembered as much for what he did at the end of the 1999/2000 season on an emotional and devastating afternoon at Wembley in the play off final against Gillingham after producing a goal of such audacious quality it summed Simon Haworth up to a tee. Receiving the ball on the far edge of the box, he controlled and flicked it with the outside of his boot to calmly loft it over the stranded Gillingham ‘keeper. A moment of sublime genius on a highly frustrating afternoon.
It all turned a touch sour though for Haworth and despite spending almost four years at the club, towards the end of his time at the JJB Stadium he made no secret of the fact that he wanted to leave the club.
He had constantly endured a love/hate relationship with the Wigan fans; a section of whom would never accept anything other than a headless chicken anyway but Haworth’s languid style was so lethargic he would be in danger of deportation from a Mexican village.
There appeared to be no way back one afternoon when Latics foolishly brought him off the bench whilst comfortably beating a lacklustre Cardiff team, only for the travelling Welshmen to stop slating their team and start up a chorus of “Haworth is a Bluebird” at which point Big Simon appeared to “Do the Ayatollah” in response whilst gently trotting about up front.
He left on 28th February 2002 and joined Tranmere Rovers who secured his services for a fee of £125,000 and it’s fair to say he received a fearful reception on a Tuesday night that September at Prenton Park from the travelling Latics massed behind the goal.
Sadly, football is often the most cruel towards those who never truly reach their potential and Haworth had to retire from the game prematurely a couple of years later following a serious leg injury. He is currently making a living as a players’ agent.
In total he made 99+18 League appearances for the Blues and scored an impressive 44 League goals.
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