How McAteer’s Bolton move earnt Marine a new roof... and bag of footballs
STAR OWES STELLAR CAREER TO TOUGH MERSEYSIDE LOVE
MAKING HIS NAME Jason McAteer at Bolton and boss at the time Phil Neal (below)
Founded: 1894 Ground: Rossett Park, Crosby Capacity: 3,185 (389 seated) Manager: Neil
League: Northern Premier League Division One North West
JASON McATEER ensured that the roof didn’t cave in on non-league Marine – now the Lilywhites hope to hit the heights in the FA Cup.
The former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland international is one of the Merseyside club’s famous sons despite playing only a few first- team games under iconic manager Roly Howard.
Now under present boss Neil Young the Northern Premier League club, from football’s seventh tier, are hoping to make more headlines when they travel to EFL League Two side Colchester United.
McAteer said: “I’m made up that they’ve made the FA Cup first round. It’s just a shame there will be no fans to watch them because the revenue from these games normally can keep clubs like Marine going for a couple of seasons.”
The bustling midfielder owes his career to a tough couple of years in Marine’s reserves and a chance meeting with Liverpool legend Phil Neal.
He added: “I was at college doing graphic design and in my spare time earning a few quid as a barman in the Sportsmans Arms, which is opposite Tranmere Rovers’ ground. I’d also started making a bit of a name for myself playing Sunday League football.
“Marine’s centre- forward Paul Meachin came into the Sportsmans every now and again and asked if I fancied having a run out for Marine reserves.
“Yeah, I really fancied that especially when I discovered that the reserve team was full of players who had been released in the past by Liverpool, Everton and other league clubs in the area.
“The league they were in contained many of the ‘A’ teams of the big clubs including Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United.
“The United team included the eventual class of ’92, young players like David Beckham and Gary Neville making their way in the game. I remember playing against Ian Rush in the Liverpool side and John Barnes, who was coming back from injury. They would start off in the ‘A’ team before moving on to the reserves and then back into the first team.”
But it appeared that the route to the all-conquering Marine first team and the chance to play under Howard, who entered the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest serving manager with 33 years and 1,975 games, was blocked.
He said: “They were streets ahead of everyone else winning their leagues and plenty of trophies but being a three-sided ground they were never allowed to progress into the Conference.
“It cost too much money to develop the ground to the necessary requirements so they never made the progress they deserved despite being about the best team around.
“Despite winning just about everything they could Roly was probably better known as Kenny Dalglish’s window cleaner! I barely
HOME COMFORTS Marine’s Rossett Park ground with a capacity of 3,185 had a sniff of the first team. Luckily though I played against Bolton ‘A’ with Phil Neal, who was the Bolton manager, watching.
“I played out of my skin, scoring a couple of goals and when I got home that night the reserve team manager Dave Ramsden rang to say Bolton were offering me a trial.”
McAteer was told to reject the offer of a contract from Marine to ensure that Bolton wouldn’t have to pay any transfer fee if the trial was successful.
Neal liked what he saw and McAteer’s career took off, one which encompassed Liverpool, Blackburn, Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers.
Marine though weren’t entirely forgotten.
“There had been a big storm and a tree fell and went through the roof of Marine’s social club at the ground,” recalled McAteer.
“They were desperate to fix it because obviously the social club was a big source of income. As a goodwill gesture Bolton gave Marine £500 and a bag of footballs.
“It was tough but my time at Marine was the making of me. You had to grow up quickly. It gave me the tools for a successful career.”
And for Marine that meant a new roof for the social club.