TIGER TALES: Another former Tiger is hunted down!

In my last post, I caught up with former Tiger Colin Heywood and mentioned another, Greg Wilson. I attended St. John’s Primary in Dukinfield with Greg and had a very brief chance meeting with him many years ago. The power of social media meant that his wife picked up on the previous blog about Colin and got in touch – and we met this week at his dad’s home in Dukinfield.


For those who don’t know us, Greg on the left me on the right.

Stone-clad houses now dominate our former playground adjacent to St. John’s church at the end of Vicarage Drive. It was here that we spent many hours honing our skills and developing our love of the beautiful game. We’d line up and pick our teams, lay jumpers or Parka coats for goalposts and never worry if the ball went over the wall onto the road – one of us simply went and got it! Greg was never picked last. He was never picked first. He was always doing the picking! A dominant character, no one really dared to argue with this because he was just too good to endure the indignity of waiting to be picked!

When Tiger’s pioneer, Don Woodcock found him kicking a ball against the wall of the house, he quickly snapped him up, putting him in the team above his own age group where he flourished. I remember Greg being strong and tricky, powerful and accurate. He started at Duki Tigers aged 8 and stayed for some time, playing for Tameside Boys and North West England Boys as well. The scouts were on his case from the age of 11. As a teenager, he almost caught the eye of Bobby Robson during a spell at the England Centre of Excellence at Lilleshall but a toenail infection left him on the sidelines and the chance was gone.

A lifelong Liverpool fan, Greg soon attracted interest from a number of clubs including United and City, but signed as an apprentice with Oldham Athletic at 16. After 2 years he signed a professional contract with Latics which saw him play under Joe Royle and alongside the likes of Andy Ritchie, Roger Palmer and Graeme Sharp. Life as an apprentice was clearly something of a ‘mixed bag’. Greg spoke of cleaning duties and being on both ends of practical jokes and initiations, much of which is not suited to a family audience (but let’s just say the lads were very creative with cans of ‘Deep Heat,’ tubs of vaseline and boot polish!).


Greg in his Latics days

His playing career took him to St. James’ Park, Maine Road and Goodison Park to name a few. But when I asked him about his favourite time, he had no doubt – a testimonial match at Anfield in front of 25,000+ fans, for the late Wayne Harrison. Harrison’s record-breaking transfer from Oldham to Liverpool saw him become the most expensive 17-year old, but his time at Anfield was blighted by injures.

Greg also recalls playing against the stars of United’s Class of ’92 and scoring a perfect hat-trick against the now famous Ryan ‘Wilson’ at Salford Boys. The other Wilson (now known as ‘Giggs’) also scored that day and the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

His most painful memory (literally) came in a match against Man United reserves in 1992 where he was clattered and flattened by  Bryan Robson. It clearly left an impression on Greg as he winces when he describes it! Robson was returning from injury and Greg thought his luck was in that day as Robson was smelling heavily of booze. Robson was known to like a pint ‘or two’ as a player, but it hardly seemed to matter as he was captaining United and England so well. It didn’t affect his performance that day either as he let the young centre midfielder and his teammates know he was there!


 Bryan Robson (left) takes on the young Latics players. Greg is second from the right, still standing at this point!


At 21 Greg left Oldham and had a brief spell with Hyde United as a semi-pro before taking an opportunity to work in finance, which is how he still earns a living. He is married, has two daughters and a young son. When I ask him about getting back into football, and maybe doing a bit of coaching he doesn’t rule it in or out but I get the feeling he might jump at the chance if it was offered…

What has struck me from my meetings with both Colin and Greg is the enjoyment they’ve had from football and the way they’ve been able to leave it behind and move on once it finished. A career in football is the privilege of only a few and for many of these it is short-lived. But (don’t try to tell this to a 10-year old) there is more to life than football. And I can say, without the slightest hint of bias, that you DO need to listen to your teachers (Colin, lol!) when they tell you to think of a second career…just in case.

This Tiger Tale was written by Tiger’s parent and club chairman, John Taylor. His two children train and play with the Tigers.

Interested in writing your own Tiger Tale? Contact via: sarahjohn.taylor@gmail.com


TIGER TALES: Former Tiger found! Call off the search… and start a new one!

In a recent post, I wrote about my search for former players following the surprise discovery that two of my old schoolmates had had professional and semi-professional contracts. Following a social media trawl and a tip-off from local non-league knowledge fountain, Mike Pavasovic, I tracked down Colin Heywood and finally met up with him last week at his Tameside home.Photo CH

“You haven’t changed much, I easily recognised you,” he said as he greeted me at the gate. Either his eyesight has gone a bit, or he’s one of those people who naturally knows how to get a conversation off to a positive start!

Colin had changed. The ’80s hair had all gone and as you might guess, he’d looked after himself physically. Married with children he now spends his time renovating his home and working as a builder. Colin was in fact working on a roof in Dukinfield when Mike Pav spotted him! He has less time for football now; he has other priorities and grand plans for the house.

He talked fondly of his time at Duki Tigers and of the many opportunities it brought him. Like many young lads, being a footballer was the only thing on his mind, but he clearly had a confidence in his own ambition as illustrated by a high school conversation with his careers teacher. “You’ll never be a footballer, you need to study and get a proper job,” she told him. How he proved her wrong when he signed for Sheffield United on 3rd June 1989, a two-year deal that saw him work under Dave Bassett – something he was keen to (respectfully) inform his former careers teacher during a chance meeting many years later! A great lesson for any youngster in the power of  believing in yourself.

He moved on to play semi-professionally for Mossley, Buxton, Droylsden and Curzon Ashton as evidenced by the wide range of newspaper cuttings, collected by his proud father and given to him in a presentation folder some years ago. What is obvious from all the cuttings is that he knew how to find the back of the net. However, it didn’t always go his way; the example below shows how football can bring highs and lows for any player!


In a second presentation folder, Colin’s dad collected various documents and newspaper cuttings some of which relate to Duki Tigers. Below for example, a program from a cup final in 1985:

Prog cover CHProg inner CH

Captain on the day, Greg Wilson, went on to play for Oldham: I haven’t managed to track Greg down yet, but Colin is going to get in touch with him and he’s given me a few leads to find others including Stuart Woolley (see above), another former schoolmate.

I’m not really one for reunions – I’ve never been to a school reunion, and don’t think I ever will, but after 26 years it was easy to just ‘carry on where you’d left off,’ so to speak and the conversation just flowed; there’s always plenty to talk about when football is the topic of conversation.

And now there is a bit of me that wants to get these former players (and coaches) together in a room, just to share stories, have a drink, and celebrate what has been achieved in the last 39 years at Dukinfield Tigers.

In 2017 the club will be 40 years old. A great excuse for a get together and a party, don’t you think?

This Tiger Tale was written by Tiger’s parent and club chairman, John Taylor. His two children train and play with the Tigers.

Interested in writing your own Tiger Tale? Contact via: sarahjohn.taylor@gmail.com