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.
“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:
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.
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