Them and us – Harry Penk (Southampton and Wigan Athletic)

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Harry was born in Wigan on 19th July 1934 and developed into a very exciting winger (outside left/right in those days)!  He resided in Orell and was a trainee painter and decorator when he signed for Wigan Athletic in the winter of 1954,

He went on to make 55 Lancashire Combination appearances for the Blues, scoring seven times in the process.  The Blues won the Lancashire Combination championship and the Lancashire Junior Cup (during which Harry scored in every round except the semi final) during his first season at Springfield Park.  Season 1954/55 also saw him help the team to the Makerfield Cup and the Liverpool Non League Senior Trophy but his talent had been spotted by the wider footballing world and it wasn’t long before the big boys came calling.

He was sold to Portsmouth by Latics manager Walter Crook on 5th September 1955 for a fee of two and a half thousand pounds, a Lancashire Combination record at the time.  Walter resigned his post as manager shortly afterwards and Harry himself didn’t fancy the move down south, preferring instead to wait for a Lancashire based team to come calling.  But the fee had been agreed at board level and Harry packed his bags for the South Coast, an area that he was eventually to fall in love with.

His time at Fratton Park consisted of just six league appearances without scoring during the 1955/56 season, his debut coming on 31st March 1956 against Charlton Athletic at Fratton Park.  He made a further 3 appearances, netting twice the following season, in a home 1-0 win against Charlton Athletic and a 3-3 draw against Sunderland at Roker Park.  His final appearance for Pompey came against Tottenham Hotspur at home on 3rd November 1956.

He moved to Plymouth Argyle in the summer of 1957 for a fee of four thousand pounds and he became a first team regular with immediate effect.  His time at Home Park yielded 104 league appearances and 14 goals, including a goal in a 1-1 draw at Accrington Stanley which earned the Pilgrims the Third Division championship on 25th April 1959.

In the summer of 1960 he signed for newly promoted Southampton who had the problem of their winger John Sydenham often being called up on National Service.   His debut for the Saints came on 10th September 1960 and it was a bad one for Harry as he was on the receiving end of a 5-0 drubbing by Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park.  He was dropped until the away game at Huddersfield Town on 10th October 1960 and this time he was on the score sheet, but the result was a 3-1 defeat at Leeds Road.

He went on to make 52 league appearances for the Saints before finishing his football career at Salisbury City.  Although his football career was ended a few years later he continued playing the game that was the second love of his life, cricket.  He played for Hursley Park Cricket Club for many years and still lives in the Hampshire region.

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