Have you ever wondered what happened to all of those players that you have seen come and go over the years? The heroes and the villains? The saints and the sinners? The stars that you talked about for years after they had retired and those you instantly forgot?
If so, Where Are They Now? is definitely for you!
Not all players end up running pubs or become TV pundits! It's no secret what Gary Lineker is up to these days but what about the many thousands of players who have slipped from public view? The first edition of "Where Are They Now?" uncovered some fascinating post football stories including the former Arsenal striker who became Iceland's Finance Minister; Millionaires; Bankrupts; Vicars; Comedians; Singers; a Phil Collins lookalike... and one or two publicans!
Updated: 20-01-18Signed for Manchester United after a successful trial, after being spotted playing in the FA Youth Cup for Lancaster City. He progressed through the youth team and reserves into the first team, making his only appearance in a League Cup tie against Crewe Alexandra. He was sent out on loan but when United ditched one of their reserve teams, he was handed a free transfer in June 2008. He went on to play for AFC Halifax after spells at Northwich Victoria and Southport.
Updated: 20-01-18Went to the same school as former United team mate Mark Howard, he grew up near the Cliff. He signed apprentice forms having been at the Manchester United since the age of eight. After a handful of first team appearances and following a succession of loan spells, he signed for Sunderland in January 2008. Bardsley married glamour model Tanya Robinson in 2014 and signed for Burnley in July 2017.
Updated: 20-01-18Jack spent two years mainly in the Manchester United reserves partly due to a run of bad luck with injuries and was allowed to join Southport. He worked as a joiner in Bacup where he was also secretary of the local football team, Bacup Borough. He later worked as a mill engineer in Manchester. Died in March 1961, aged 60.
Updated: 20-01-18Moved across Manchester after he was made available for transfer after being banned, following an illegal payments scandal. Won the League title during his first season at United, only missing two games. Bannister played less regularly the next season, before losing his inside right berth altogether. He took a move closer to home by signing for Preston North End in October 1909. He was the landlord of the Ship Inn in his native Leyland for a number of years.
Updated: 20-01-18A forward who scored seven goals in his first six games for the Manchester United to set up the march to the 1935-1936 Second Division Championship, but then the goals dried up in the First Division as United's fortunes slumped. 14 goals in 23 games in the 1937-1938 season aided another successful promotion campaign. He returned to Wrexham after retiring and worked in a local steelworks until his death in December 1967 aged 62.
Updated: 20-01-18Legend has it that when United's chief scout, Louis Rocca, wanted to beat off the competition from several other clubs to sign the highly rated Ball, he picked him up from his home one Sunday in a taxi and drove around all day until they had shaken off the competition. His first spell at Old Trafford only lasted a few months before he was sold to Sheffield Wednesday when the club needed cash, only to return two and a half years later in part exchange for Neil Dewar. He created history in September and October 1934 when he appeared in all three divisions in a six week spell. He ended his career at Luton Town where he missed one game against Bristol Rovers through injury and his stand-in, Joe Payne, scored ten goals! He spent 20 years working for Vauxhall Motors before joining a wholesale manufacturing chemist. He was a masseur in his spare time and in retirement, helped out behind the bar of his son's pub. He died in February 1976, aged 69.
Updated: 20-01-18Found his chances at Old Trafford very limited because he had to understudy one of the greatest full backs in the club's history, Johnny Carey. Because of the lack of first team chances, he made the short move to Bolton Wanderers in exchange for Harry McShane. Managed Wigan Athletic for three seasons before leaving the game and he became a painter and decorator before emigrating to Australia.
Updated: 20-01-18Spent two years in the United youth team and was a FA Youth team winner before he was released without being offered a professional contract, and he returned to Ireland to sign for Shelbourne. He been played back in Ireland until his retirement in 2010.
Updated: 20-01-18Moved to Old Trafford along with Newcastle's Adamstown-Rosebuds' teammate Doug Johns as a 17 year old initially on a six-month scholarship deal. He stayed on after Johns returned home, impressed Sir Matt Busby enough to be offered a two year contract. He was a regular for United's reserves but because he didn't qualify for a work permit, he was unable to play for United's first team. It came as a surprise to Busby in 1966 when he announced he was homesick and wanted to go home to Australia. Sydney Hokoah paid an Australian record £5,600 to secure his signature. The Australian football legend returned to his native Newcastle where he ran his own successful sports store business until retiring.
Updated: 20-01-18Played for United in the North Final of the Football League War Cup defeat to Bolton Wanderers. Astbury worked for a building supplies firm and was an ex-captain and lifelong vice- president of Hawarden Golf Club. He died in 1993, aged 73, in Flintshire.
When we researched the first printed edition of 'Where Are They Now?' in the 1990's, footballers were already incredibly well paid by conventional employment standards but prior to that, players had to find a new career once they had hung up their boots.
This meant that we unearthed plenty of interesting and un-expected stories, many of which are found on the site. Sadly, there were some we could not re-produce for legal reasons - sorry!
Playing professional football, particularly at the highest level should ensure that modern players should not have to worry about money for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, this has not limited the number of fascinating tales for us to tell. For example, were you aware that former Sheffield United midfielder Curtis Woodhouse became British light welterweight champion when he took up professional boxing, having apparently 'fallen out of love' with football? If the rumours are true, he was not just a winner in the ring! At one point, he was considered to be 50 to 1 outsider to win the title and a successful £5,000 scooped him a cool £250,000 when he defeated defending champion Darren Hamilton.
If you know of any other stories that may interest fellow fans, please do let us know.
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