Them and us – Steve ‘Mandy’ Hill (Latics and Blackpool)

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STEVE ‘MANDY’ HILL – Blackpool and Wigan Athletic

This weekend’s crucial game against Blackpool is an ideal time to look back on the career of former Blackpool and Wigan Athletic winger Mandy Hill.

Born in Blackpool on 15th February 1940 Steve signed for his hometown club as a youth team player in the summer of 1956 and the club coaches groomed him to be a successor to the great Sir Stanley Matthews. Steve though came pretty close and his promise was obvious as he progressed through the ranks and was called up into the England Under 23’s squad on four occasions, partnering Jimmy Greaves on one occasion.

After signing his first professional contract on 19th May 1959 he made his League debut for the Tangerines on 3rd October 1959 against Manchester City at Bloomfield Road which resulted in defeat, although Steve didn’t play too badly as the deputy for Matthews who was inured.   His appearances were limited during his first two seasons due to the form of Matthews.   He was a star turn for the reserve’s Central League team though, and he finally got his chance to impress at Blackpool when Matthews was transferred to Stoke City in October 1961.

Having made just 17 League appearances without scoring since arriving at the club he then made 37 League appearances, scoring once that season before a serious of serious injuries saw him make just 18 further League appearances without scoring over the next two campaigns and his place in the team was taken by Leslie Lea who he could not dislodge.   This set the scene for a move to Tranmere Rovers in September 1964 for a fee of £6,880. His manager, former Latics boss Ron Suart, is recorded as being very sad that he never really lived up to his full potential at Bloomfield Road, and wished him well for the future.

He spent four seasons at Prenton Park during which he amassed 130+1 League appearances, netting 10 times in the process.

Ian McNeill was impressed with Steve enough to offer him terms at Springfield Park and the move was completed in the summer of 1968, just in time for Latics’ inaugural Northern Premier League season, indeed the NPL had only been formed that summer.

He made his Latics debut on the opening day of the season, 10th August 1968, against Scarborough away from home   The game resulted in a 2-0 victory and Steve’s career at Springfield Park blossomed. He was a crowd favourite due to his impressive dribbling and work rate on the wing and he went on to make 22 NPL appearances that season, scoring 3 times.  His season was cut short when after just 15 minutes of a Lancashire Junior Cup game against Great Harwood at Springfield Park he shattered his knee cap and this was an injury that all but finished off his career.

The following season saw him make only 12+2 NPL appearances during which he scored once from the penalty spot. He also converted a penalty in a Lancashire Challenge Trophy second round game against Darwen at Springfield Park which resulted in an 11-1 win for the Blues. He decided to retire at the end of that season and left the game completely, after deciding to manage a TV rental shop in Blackpool.

He sadly passed away at the Trinity Hospice in Bispham on 27th November last year (2010) aged 70.

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